A few months ago, I finished my novel. After multiple revisions and edits, I felt confident about moving on to the next step. Time to find an agent! The excitement to be in this new stage of the writing journey, was both exhilarating and completely daunting.
Now what? Years of working on my craft, and now, in a sense, I was starting all over again in a new space. Where I had tools in my pocket for plotting, character development, dialogue, writing description and more, I didn’t feel like much of a girl scout on “finding an agent.”
- Was there a right way to do this?
- How do I find an agent that loves my work?
- How many agents should I query at the same time?
The unknown of the new process brought many unanswered questions and concerns for me, much like giving yourself a diagnosis from google before going to the doctor. I wanted to find an agent that would see my potential, love my work, and would pursue it. One that would fight for the stories I’d send them.
How do you go about getting that agent?
1. Figure out what genre you’re writing. This is super important, so that you make sure you’re sending your story to an agent who’s actually looking, and wanting your style and genre of work. This also helps to allow you to lower your search down some. If you’ve written a mystery, don’t send it to agents that aren’t interested in mystery. Even if you think it’s the most amazing story next to Sherlock Holmes, DON’T DO IT.
2. Go to conferences or workshops. A lot of times, there are opportunities to do pitch sessions, manuscript evaluations, and to speak one-on-one with an agent. If you get that opportunity, take it. Not only are you able to build confidence and talk about your story, you get to know the agent, and they get a feel for who you are. Seeing someone’s personality and if you click, what you like about them, even how you feel around them . . . a good start. This allows you to pick out different things you’d want in the future from an agent as far as personality, work ethic, and mannerisms. It’s nice to know that your working relationship could be a good fit.
3. Social Media Sites. We live in a world where you can get to know a lot about publishing companies and agents through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The things that they post show you as an author who they are, what they like, and who they represent. At conferences, when you meet agents, make sure to get a business card with their info, and give them one of yours. This is a great way to make a connection, so you both can find each other online.
4. Online websites. There are so many resources you can find that will give you a list of agents, and what their specific needs are.
5. Books are a great tool as well. Writers Market puts out multiple additions every year with updated information on agents and publishing companies. The two books I typically get are Guide to Literary Agents 2018 and Writer’s Market 2018. They’re available now through Writer’s Digest. They have multiple additions with articles on how to write a query letter, what an agent does, and writing a synopsis.
6. Once you find agents who are interested in your specific genre, make a list and research each one even further. Go to their websites. Read everything you can about them. Check out their company motto, what’s important to their business, and what their main focus for authors is. Visit the submission guideline section. Get acquainted with what the company and agent would like you to send to them. Read up on foreign rights, who they represent, and news on what books or movie rights they’re selling. The more information you have about each agent, you can more fully find the best fit for what your author and story needs are.
7. Ask friends in your writing community who represents them and what they like about the company. Pick their brain about the market, questions they asked their agents, and things they’ve learned along the way.
Enjoy this new stage in your writing journey. Remember, the only way you move forward is by taking the first step.
Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs. In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story. Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well. Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence. She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years. She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.