Find a Literary Agent
May 22, 2021
Here’s how I’m going about finding a literary agent. I invite feedback should you have anything to add.
I want my work to be represented by a reputable agent, someone that supports the type of projects I want to build. My goal is more than just proving I’ve got something that can sell, it’s about the process I’ve built. I figure if I were the agent, I’d want to know the pace and expected output. I’m a teacher, parent, and programmer. I need to demonstrate that I’ve found a way to write, edit, and promote on top of everything else.
Listen to Experts about Agents
The advice from my references has been excellent. Many of the courses from MasterClass have provided the most actionable steps. But it’s also been great to plug into my local community, too. Gather information.
Build a Map
I’m looking for agents that have an interest in representing my genres (speculative fiction, action, fantasy, thrillers). I went through my GoodReads profile and built a list of the publishers that release the stuff I love most. Trade journals list contracts between publisher and writer along with the representing literary agent. Finally, I browse client listings on literary agents’ websites and map other connections between agents and publishers.
Take the Pulse
Still more pre-steps before I reach out to an agent. Until this point, I’ve only had a distant perspective of selling books. I’ve got to pull up a chair and watch how the sausage is made. But this is not part of my regular news consumption, so I use Todoist to set monthly reminders to read up on what types of books are being sold and are nominated for a Hugo. A subscription to Locus has been insightful, though I’m still learning to unpack the industry updates.
Out on Twitter, I roll my eyes as I scroll through the same formulaic posts, (What are you reading this weekend?). I’d love to give Pitch Wars a try with something like this submission:
Like most people, Kent Aguinaldo preferred being comfortably numb to cyber warfare. But after his protective service team is ambushed, the person that knows why is on the run from a strange, cutting-edge threat. Kent’s old employer, a private military company, might help him get answers or might have been behind it all.#PitMad #A #T #AC #MH
I’m impressed with the simple functionality of QueryTracker. Minimalist designs impress me, (though I shudder at PHP). Finding an agent is made so much easier with these tools. I paid my fee for the premium account.
Sort and Filter
There are 73 agents looking considering writers working in thriller, sci-fi, and fantasy. I’m going through the websites and Twitter profiles of each and ordering my list.
Write the Query Letter
The last push of my manuscript will be to post the query letter to Scribophile and my writing group to get feedback. I might send it out to my mailing list, too. I’m sure KM Weiland wrote a checklist or two I’ll use. The first thing a literary agent sees of mine will be as polished as I can manage.
Specify Exclusive Consideration
An area that I’m still learning about is exclusivity. How miserable would it be as a literary agent to read the entirety of someone’s manuscript only to find out they’ve already signed with a different agent. This is why the full manuscript is sent along with a note that they have exclusive access for a window of time. How long should that window be? What’s the protocol there? I’ll let you know when I find the answers.