Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Get an Agent

You may have heard it’s just as hard to get an agent to accept your manuscript as it is to get an editor. I agree. Whichever road you take, I've outlined some steps. But, before you start your search, have you revised, revised, revised and then let your manuscript sit for several weeks or a month only to revise again? You have? Good. One more thing, find a good critique group that also writes in the genre you do. Not only are they beta readers, but they can be a good source of information (or a source of comfort).

Let’s start the search!

1. Spend some time finding an appropriate fit. Does the agent represent what you write, if not, move on. There are many ways to find out what an agent is interested in. Besides online sites, there are several hard copy books (I have the Guide to Literary Agents published by Writer’s Digest Books). You can check the acknowledgement pages of books that are similar to yours for the agent’s or editor's name. If it's not listed, check the author's website, Facebook or other social media. You can also follow agents and editors on Twitter. Once you have a name, look him/her up.

2. Write a good query letter. Did the whole room groan? I know, it’s hard to do. But, if your query isn't getting any response, it could be you’re targeting inappropriate agents, meaning they don’t represent what you write, but you figured, oh what the heck, I’ll send it anyway or your query isn't doing its job. 

3. Write a one page synopsis and a one paragraph synopsis. Why? It may show you that you don’t really know what your story is about which may be reflected in a poorly written query. See rule number 2.

4. If you’re sending the first ten pages or the first three chapters, and you’re targeting the right agents, and not getting a response, maybe your beginning needs work. There are plenty of good resource books on the bookstore shelves (I have The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman).

5. Don’t do a shotgun approach when querying. You could end up shooting yourself in the foot. Instead, query only a few or five, but not twenty five. If you get any feedback or realize your manuscript needs a major overhaul, you've already eliminated twenty four other agents.

6. Don't let the rejections consume you. There are plenty of well written stories that are never traditionally published. Some reasons are: marketing felt the manuscript couldn't beat the competition, marketing felt they couldn't successfully market it (no marketing hook, too small an audience, bad timing, etc.), budgetary restraints (they can't publish everything they like) or the agent or editor didn't "fall in love with it," unfortunately, a very subjective decision.

Be patient, good luck and keep writing!

No comments:

Post a Comment