Guide to Literary Agents
Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2012
The Christian Writer’s Market Guide
Guide to Literary Agents blog
Very much enjoyed reading the comments this morn. I completed the manuscript for my second book and am working on the sequel. This site motivated me – thank you!
I am a new author looking for information relative to any and everything pertaining to writing! You have an AWESOME Blog. Thanks for the information. I will be back!
Hi, what do I do if I can’t find any Agents that wants to represent my book?
Firstly thanks for such an informative blog. When do you throw in the towel, or know when to? I have been trying to get an agent for a crime novel (no competition there) for over a year. I got great encouragement from The Literary Consultancy when I sought advice, but now I am losing faith. I think it is the timescales; between 12 weeks and six months to hear back that I find hardest. It feels like limbo. I have done some e-publishing in the meantime, but the actual ‘novel’ remains on hold. I think any realistic advice would be good. Something to kick-start my thought process again. Thanks
Yes this is an old post, but I figured, I’ll ask my questions in the corresponding places.
How do you find an agent that will accept your religion and genre? Everyone who accepts spiritual/inspirational/Christian sci-fi/fantasy either ignores me or tells me I’m wrong in my beliefs. The people who accept my genre say that they refuse to take ‘religious materials’. I’m not asking that the agent have the same beliefs as me, but a little respect and consideration would be nice. In my search for an agent, I found that it seems to be getting to the point that you need an agent to get an agent nowadays. And, this is just my opinion, but that’s just plain stupid!
Okay, sorry for ranting, and thank you for reading.
me to contact her and use the agent’s name. You also get a feel for whether you have chemistry with the agent and can work with that person when you meet them.
I recommend attending writers’ conferences and meeting with agents in person. I’ve found agents extremely approachable and helpful, even if they don’t represent works in my genre. I’ve always gotten useful feedback and one agent even gave me the name of a colleague and asked me to contact her and use the agent’s name. You also get a feel for whether you have chemistry with the agent and can work with that person when you meet them.
I hate asking my writer friends for referrals and so I never do. It’s a tricky line to walk–that line between friendship and networking. If they happen to refer me or offer, I’ll take it. Otherwise, they are my friends. :o) Thanks for the clarification though on referrals.
I’ve kept my ears open and watched sales and which agents sign authors who write similar to what I write. That’s how I ended up picking you for one of my agent appointments at the ACFW conference. I read blogs too, if the agent/agency has one.
I also listen to my friends when they rave about their agent. I’m lucky enough to be in a great group of writers with fellow interests and I’m one of three without an agent yet. And I listen to the things they don’t like about their agent. Both of my CP’s recently left their agents, and one in particular I’m very glad I saw the whole thing because I was able to not waste that agent’s time by pitching her something that didn’t fit her agency. The appointment was then open for someone else who might be a better fit with her.
My advice if anyone asked would be listen and pay attention. And get to know some of the other clients so you can ask questions about the agent you’re looking at. It does help. A lot! I do believe that made all the difference with my pitching success last month.
I try to do as much research as I can on the agent before submitting a query.
Thanks for this post.
Networking is great, but I do want to give some good news to those who are feeling “but I don’t know any writers who have agents!” My agent found me in her query slush pile. We didn’t have any connections or past meetings. I had read an interview with her in Writer’s Digest and felt that we would be good fit based on several of her comments.
The query process is frustrating, but it can work. Hang in there. Make your book the best it can be and then keep trying.
What a terrific discussion!
I like what Else said about approaching an agent who has represented someone whose book you really like or might be similar in style/audience to what you are writing.
Also like what Kathleen says about observing an agent online to see if your styles match.
Rachelle, I’ll look forward to your post about why you attend conferences. I’m curious, as an agent I know spends a good deal of time attending conferences, but I believe she does so to raise her own platform.
Thanks for the timely post. I will start querying agents, God willing, in November.
So far, I am just gathering as much info. as possible. I’m praying, and simply put, trying to remember my manners.
I figure agents are like other people. Respect is imperative.
I’m doing agent research right now, and it’s not a quick “who reps YA” search– I check out their agency page, then I google interviews with them. If I don’t already follow them on Twitter, I check out their Twitter feed or blog. Basically, I do the same thing a lot of agents say they do for prospective clients– check out how they represent themselves in public and see if I think we could work well together. It takes a lot of time and energy, but it also means I’m not wasting my time or an agents’ by querying them when it wouldn’t be a good fit anyway.
As others have said, research is key. I’ve known several aspiring authors who just send their queries to any and every agent whose name they see. This is not effective, because (1) that person could get a bad reputation for jumping the gun and not doing research, which looks sloppy, (2) both the agent’s and the author’s time is wasted, and (3) even if you get one of those agents to agree to rep you, that agent might not be the best fit.
I’m in the middle of writing my first novel, but I’ve already started looking at agents I’m interested in, who have worked with authors similar to me and whose work ethic I admire. I’m choosing agents who have blogs so I can get to know them, their preferences, their advice, and make sure it matches what I have to offer. Because as much as I want an agent, I don’t just want ANY agent. I want one that will rep my work well.
Rachelle, currently I’m focusing my “efforts” on only a handful of agents in this way–reading their blogs, checking the success of their authors, etc. Is that too narrow (to only have a handful I’m looking at)? Obviously, once I finally finish my novel and query, I’ll know whether or not my work is even acceptable to them.
Thanks again for some wonderfully practical advice!
When I read a book I really like or read something that is similar to what I write, I check the acknowledgement section in the book. Nine times out of ten an author will thank his or her agent. I make a note of who that agent is since we seem to share the same tastes.
Research like crazy and then go to conferences. Oh, and be sure to pay attention in the workshops while you’re there. It’s not JUST about meeting an agent ; )
I recommend looking at books that are similar to yours, and then googling to find out who repped them.
When you’ve read and enjoyed a book and can honestly open your query letter by saying that you read and enjoyed that book and think your book would appeal to readers who liked it, I think that’s helpful.
“I really enjoyed X by XY, and think that my manuscript will appeal to readers who liked X.”
I didn’t do that with all the agents I queried, but I did do it with the one I signed with. It got a quick positive response.
That way you’re “referred” by a writer who’s never met you, and in a completely honest and legitimate way.
This. I’ve found several agents I want to query this way. I already know those agents are open to books along the same lines, which gives some sense of reassurance. Of course, there’s no guarantee those agents will like my work, but at least I know somebody out there was able to sell my sort of thing at some point. You can often get agent names by reading the acknowledgements page as well, especially for newer authors.
If you are searching for an agent, first continually hone your craft. Even successful published authors do this. You are never finished polishing the craft.
Second network. You have to find a place to rub shoulders with other writers.
The whole writing life is a journey. Finding an agent is the same as finding a life long friend. You don’t go into this blindly. And neither does an agent.
Pray. Research. Network. Keep writing. Study craft. Then wait on the Lord. I’m still doing all the above and in His time it will happen the right way. Thanks for the post.
This post makes me smile with gratitude. There have been so many beautiful encounters on my journey and I’m thankful for each one. As for finding the right agent, I researched like crazy, talked to other writers, and then just trusted my gut. I have a good gut and I couldn’t be happier with my agent. ~ Wendy
Lots and lots of research.
The entire process gives me stomach cramps. lol. Two things I hate are waiting and rejection. I guess I’m in the wrong business!
I tend to agree with Otin.Rejection is tough, to say the least. When I finally had an interest from a prominent agency,they asked for a six week exclusivity and I was afraid to say no. Waiting to hear from them was agony…and then they said “no”. I try to follow every bit of reasonable advise I can find, except for the “social” aspect. I am shy about that. Will that always hamper my chances at finding an agent?
hi, all the above. I read continuously in my genre and always research agents in author acknowledgements. also have met agents at conferences. Rachel, I’m curious, with the numerous unsolicited queries agents receive, what draws you to conferences for queries instead of your in-box? thanks carol
Simply put, I don’t go to conferences for queries – that wouldn’t make any sense would it? Spend all that money, take all that time away from the office (not to mention the family) for queries that I can just as easily get at my desk? No.
I’ll have a blog post about Why I Go to Conferences next week… thanks for the idea!
You make a good explanation of industry etiquette on this point. Every year, new writers try their hand at getting published, and regardless of whether they have talent, they’re still new to the business and green when it comes to understanding proper etiquette in finding representation. Thanks for shortening the learning curve on this aspect of the industry.
In addition to the sources you list above, I also suggest that newcomers subscribe to one or two good magazines, such as Writer’s Digest. Reading a spectrum of articles on all things writing will open eyes to vital information and protocol.
I found my agent through the acknoweldgements pages of a writer who I liked and admired, and who was writing in the same ball-park as me. She was the first and only agent I approached. Quality beats quantity – put your effort into targeting your approach rather than firing off queries to every agent you can find the address of.
Research, research, research using all the sources you listed: The GLA, Publishers Weekly, AgentQuery, etc. But better than that, if you network with other writers, build relationships with your critique partners & such, one of them might refer you to their agent, as I was lucky enough to have done for me, twice in fact. After that, your work must speak for itself.
Thank you for this. This is great!
Rachel, When asked once how I found my agents, I told the author it was a fluke. The publisher recommended the agent, so I got things done backwards. This is not normally the case in 99.99% of the times. I was approached by the publisher rather than me approaching them which is unusually rare.
That was also back in the day when agents were not as plentiful as they are now, and publishers were not huge conglomerates. Today, I’d be lost in the slush piles and stacks of query letters just like everyone else.
Today, when a new author asks how it’s done. I refer to writer conferences and Herman’s Literary Guide. I rarely refer authors to my agents.
Would you say that an agent would give more time to a manuscript that comes with a recommendation, than a really polished query letter from a cold-caller? (Assuming the agent is open to new submissions?)
Cheers, Belinda G
If three agents offered representation, would you consider them all equally, or would you give more weight to the one that your friend has raved about?
If I were shopping for cars, I wouldn’t give equal weight to all the polished shiny cars in the lot, I’d look especially closely at the one that has been recommended to me.
I think this is one of those many times that being involved with a network of other writers is invaluable–especially if some are part of your critique group and others are those you’d feel comfortable with sharing your work, and you have either spent time with in person or e-mail back and forth with. They can recommend agents to you based on their own experiences or from what they’ve heard from other writers and if you’re close to them, they’ll be people you can trust with this information. Following an agents blog and knowing who they represent can help as well, that way you know what they’re looking for and maybe even get a little sense of their personality.