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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Agent Hunting Tips

Hunting for an agent isn't like trophy hunting where you want the buck with the biggest rack. Hmm, I see where that could be taken wrong. Moving along. You want, no, you need to find the agent that is right for you. Not just any agent will do. Trust me, I'm speaking with the voice of experience on this one. Connecting with the right agent starts in the querying process.

Do NOT blanket query. What that means is sending out generalized query letters to pretty much everyone who calls themselves an agent. Take your time and do your research. Make sure the agents you submit to represent your genre. Just because someone takes urban fantasy does not mean they'll take fantasy. Just because they take young adult does not mean they'll take middle grade. Read the agent's bio's carefully. That is your introduction to them, your chance to get to know them a little. Then read what they're looking for. If it isn't under their bio it is almost always under the submission guidelines.

Follow submission guidelines to the letter, literally. There is no room for error here. If the agent says cut and paste ten pages because they don't accept attachments, do it and don't send attachments. Those who don't follow guidelines are the first to be rejected. Be confident, don't talk too much about yourself, don't sound whiney, and don't forget to be polite.

You need an agent who communicates the way you want to communicate. Maybe you want an agent who is a hard copy kind of person who prefers limited contact via phone calls. Or maybe you want more of an on line person with a blog, Twitter account, Facebook account, one that's easy to reach in many ways. A good relationship all comes down to communication so make sure you and the agent communicate in the same way.

Not all agents are the hands on type who help with editing, story building, or brainstorming. If you need or want that kind of agent make sure you ask how involved they'll be in those processes. These are good things to ask at the offer of representation stage. Some list this type of thing on their websites. Explore their websites thoroughly to learn all you can about them. Don't have time for that? Then you don't have time to submit.

For more great tips check out this article by Writer's Digest: Get The Inside Track To Agents

12 comments:

  1. All great reminders! I had 'picked' my to-be-agent... it was a great joke with my writer's group that I was 'stalking' the agent online. But alas, I've queried him twice and both times no luck (and I'll admit, I read the first submission a year later and wanted to crawl under a rock! lol) Thanks for keeping these obvious (but all-too-easily-ignored) standards right upfront - helps keep us on track!

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  2. Great tips and very fitting for where I'm at in the process:)

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  3. All very good advice. I think the part about finding the RIGHT agent is so important. We tend to focus on finding an agent - anyone who will be willing to represent us. But if it isn't the right fit, it will not work, and then you'll be back @ square one. Good research can help with this, but you do have to interview an interested agent and ask questions. It's a two way street - just like any job interview. And if it is not the right fit, just keep at it until you find it!

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  4. I know how you feel DLCurran. Unfortunately the agent we pick out as our first pick is very rarely the one we end up with! The important thing is that we keep looking, keep trying, and keep improving. The right one is out there, just maybe not where we expect!

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  5. I'm glad the timing was good for you Candyland. Best of luck submitting!

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  6. Thanks Elizabeth. That's so true! Having been through the agent hunt more than once now I'm really finding that if I narrow it down to those who fit me and my work my responses are better and faster.

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  7. Excellent advice from one who knows -- thanks, Heather! Be confident but don't forget to be polite -- I love that! I agree with Elizabeth, too -- it's a two-way street just like any job interview. Some of Noah Lukeman's blog posts make it crystal clear how important it is to do a proper agent search before submitting, and to stay on top of contract details etc. when you're lucky enough to land that agent you've been wanting.

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  8. You're welcome Linda. I hope it helps! Great tip on Noah's blog. It's a must read for anyone who is submitting!

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  9. Thanks for the link to WD. I'll go read more. :-)

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  10. Great advice, Heather. I've been so busy with my query and my final edits that I've kind of pushed this part of the process to the side. Guess I better start soon since I'll be querying next month.

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  11. My fingers are crossed for you Stina! Happy agent hunting!

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