Last post I talked about whether it’s important or not to secure an agent for your book before publishing. Having given you the things that convinced me, I’m going to move on from there because I think it’s reason enough to show it’s so worth it to have one! After you decide you want one, though, what comes next?
There are so many steps to this journey. writing, editing, revising, querying, editing and revising again, publishing, marketing, etc. Looking at it in this light, however, shows we (if you are looking for an agent) are closer to our dream than ever before! At this point, time is the main factor; time and how much you put into it. What now? What do you put into it, exactly?
I have yet to be accepted or rejected by an agent. I have yet to send a query. My reason is I want to be as prepared as I can before I jump out there. Not that I’m afraid, but I want to come across as having done my research to save both my own and any agent’s time. My first steps have been research. Lots and lots of research. I started with the basics of what an agent is looking for, how to query, what to expect, what not to be duped by, what I should do to save the most time, and all in all how difficult this will be. Then, I purchased the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents book. It is sacred to me, and all the advice and wisdom piled into one manuscript has been such a guide in this recent journey (Which is why they are such popular books and something every writer should have! Chuck Sambuchino is the best, I’m telling you).
After I’d become comfortable with what knowledge was now stored in my brain, it was time to start looking. I started to compile a list of agents who I felt were the right fit for me and I for them. You can’t expect any agent to take your work. Just like you can’t order a pizza from a drive-thru burger joint, agents come in all different forms and don’t offer all services. Make sure who you’re looking at matches what you need. How could you expect a science fiction agent to accept an exclusively romantic novel? You’ll not only waste their time if you send your manuscript to them, you’ll also waste yours.
In order to keep track of agents and the facts about them I created a spreadsheet. My sheet consists of a column for the agent’s name, one for their agency (this is a good plan because a lot of agencies only allow you to submit to one of their agents at a time) one for the positive things about them, one for the negatives, and back at the beginning is a mini column for my “1-5 star rating.” I’m still adding to the list and looking for the perfect agents, but for now I’ve built a good starting point for myself.
Do your research on agents. Don’t just google “fantasy agents” and add every single name that shows up to your spreadsheet. You want to know whether they’re taking submissions now, if they really do represent what you have (some have stipulations, even if they represent your specific genre) and you want to get to know them as well. Look them up on social media, their websites, their agency’s website, etc. Find what you can and see if you think you’ll get along well. It’s okay to do your homework, and it will most certainly pay off!
I wish it were as easy as zapping something in the microwave. Then again, not really. There is a satisfaction when it comes to working hard at what you love and doing what you need to achieve it. If we were handed everything in a minute and thirty seconds we wouldn’t have the true satisfaction of claiming to have toiled tirelessly over achieving something grand. It doesn’t mean you’ll always have to strive and struggle just to even understand what you’re doing, but there’s always a new struggle at every level in our careers and dreams. Be glad you’re even able to do any of it.
To sum it up, do your research, read your textbooks, do your homework. Then, together we shall master the art of the Force-I mean literary universe. When you feel like crying because it’s hard, or you’re not sure you’re good enough, or you just know everyone will reject you, push back and trample those thoughts. I have to do it a lot.
I hope this sparks some ideas and encourages you, especially if you’re agent hunting. The forest is thick with trees and obscurities, and the chances of landing a good shot feel slim, but remember to keep at it!