Sunday, August 29, 2010

Now for the Hard Work

The book is done. Now it's time to find an agent. Most writers look forward to this part about as much as they look forward to going to the dentist, or poetry readings by Glenn Beck. I understand completely.

I'm not going to pretend to tell anyone how to get an agent. I've had two, and no good idea how I landed either. One I parted amicably with. The other relationship fell apart over a misunderstanding fostered by less than optimal communication. I'll take the greater part of the blame for that; I hadn't done as much due diligence as I should have to see how our marketing visions synched (or didn't), and I was immature about a couple of things. These agents helped me immensely as a writer, and I have great respect for both of them.

What I hope to do here is to post a travelogue of sorts. I'll going to let you see how things progress for me, with names redacted to protect all concerned. I make a mistake, you'll see it. I do something right (which will probably be accidental), you'll see that, too. If anyone learns anything from all of this, it will have been worth it. A lot of people have been generous with their time and expertise with me; they don't need my help in this area, so maybe I can repay them by helping someone else, however indirectly.

The first thing you need to do is to find agents to query. Agents are everywhere. Run a search on The Google and it will seem you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one. Which are well suited for your work and personality is the catch.

The best advice I can give for finding an agent is to read people who know how to do it. Janet Reid is an agent who gives great query advice. Miss Snark, who is, alas, no longer blogging, had a blog that is well worth your time, though it has not been updated in quite a while. Recent articles by Marcus Sakey and A.C. Crispin bear looking into. The best piece of advice I can give is covered in some of these other locations, and I used it when looking for both of my agents: read the Acknowledgements section of books somewhat similar to yours to see who represents those authors. Mention why you chose them when you write. They'll appreciate the fact that you did your research.

I finished that part of the process last week, and I generated a list of about fifteen agents. A few days ago I researched all their contact information and submission guidelines. (This eliminated one from the list, as his agency was of the "you'll only hear back if we want to see more" school of agenting.) That was the easy part. Soon I'll have to actually write the queries and complete the packages.

I'll keep you posted. Cross your fingers.

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