So you’ve finished a manuscript and polished it up. Your ready to submit but you have no idea who to submit to. Your at the gate like this lovely goat, trying to break through to the other side.
I’ve been here a while too. I’ve put together spreadsheets of agents for my YA and adult manuscripts. So here are my tips on how to build a nice list of agents to query.
- Start with Agent Query and/or Query Tracker. These are databases of agents that can be sorted by genre. I prefer Query Tracker because it creates a spreadsheet-style list that includes who is and isn’t taking submissions and if it’s via email or snail mail. These are very big picture so the research doesn’t stop here.
- If you’re writing YA, check out Literary Rambles blog for in-depth profiles on agents. These profiles include links to interviews and articles and give real insight into the agents. Some of the agents also take adult so it’s worth perusing their profiles if you have a list of agent names from Query Tracker.
- Subscribe to the Guide to Literary Agents blog. Chuck Sambuchino has alerts and overviews of new agents seeking new authors.
- If you’ve read a book similar to yours, look in the acknowledgements and see who the agent is. Target them for your query list.
- Conduct a quick Google search on the agent’s name. Click on a few links and research the agent. If there is an Absolute Write thread about them, pop over and see what was said. Sometimes an agent changes agencies, retires, passes away, or does something shady–people come here to find answers and share info.
- Go to the Preditors and Editors website and verify that the agent/agency has no reported issues.
- This is most important: Make sure you visit the agency’s website and adhere to their submission guidelines. This is the most updated spot for an agency address and submission format. It supersedes what is written anywhere else.
Those are all absolutely free ways to find an agent. If you have some money to spend, I recommend adding a few more.
- Attend a conference. There are usually several agents and editors at local conferences and then you can submit to them and rise to the top of their slush pile because you can reference the conference. To get you started, there are a few conferences in the column to the left of my blog post.
- Pick up a copy of the Guide to Literary Agents book or subscribe to their online version (it’s a massive directory of agents compiled by Writer’s Digest).
I’d love to hear how you go about targeting agents. And please let me know if I left anything out. 🙂