Part 2: How to Query an Agent
If you’re an author who’s decided to go trad instead of indie, you will first need to compile a list of likely agents to represent you. To find out how, see Part 1 of this article, How to Find an Agent.
After putting together your list of agents – and after researching them – you will need to send a query letter. This letter tells the agents about your work and asks them to represent you to publishers. Continue reading “How to Find and Query a Literary Agent, Part 2”
Part 1: How to Find an Agent
If you’re an author who’s decided to go trad instead of indie, you will first need to find an agent to represent you. The major traditional publishers used to have what’s known as the “slush pile,” the mountainous heap of unsolicited manuscripts from authors seeking publication. Unsolicited manuscripts are no longer accepted by the big trad publishers (there are a few exceptions for some of their imprints, such as HarperCollins’ Harper Voyager, which has periodic “open calls” throughout the year). Because of all the mergers and dumb-sizing in the industry, no one has the time to search through the slush pile on the remote chance of finding a manuscript by the next John Grisham. The only way to get your MS seen is to have a reputable agent send it to them. That way, the publisher knows the agent found your work worthy of the publisher’s consideration. Continue reading “How to Find and Query a Literary Agent, Part 1”
Many authors think signing with a literary agent means they’ve hit “the big time.” Sure, the potential for huge success is there – but so are the odds of wasting away in obscurity.
I managed to sign with a well-known New York City literary agent. All my friends wanted to celebrate. I tend to be a little more cautious. “When you have the contract with a publisher, will you celebrate then?” they asked. “No,” I answered. “I won’t celebrate until I have the print copy of the book in my hand.” (Yes, back in *those* days, there were no eBooks, kids.) I’m a staunch follower of I’ll believe it when I see it.
Having an agent taught me a lot. It taught me about taking chances and taking control. It also taught me that, no matter how you slice it, who you know really does make a difference. Step back in time with me, and I’ll explain. Continue reading “Party Time: I Have a Big New York Agent!”
The world of agentry is changing. And, before you start on me, I scored 78 points in Facebook Scrabble with AGENTRY so it’s a word, ok? Time was, you got an agent, you were on your way. They loved your book, reckoned it would sell and worked hard to pitch it to publishers for you. They did that because it was how they got paid. And some still do.
Any agent worthy of your consideration will tell you that their belief in your writing is the thing that will lift it above the slush pile, but then they would, wouldn’t they? They may be right, but many agents who aren’t worthy of your consideration will tell you the same thing.
Before you sign on the dotted line and start telling your friends that you are traditionally published because you have an agent, and that’s just better, listen up. Here are three stories to add to the less-than-ideal experience Melissa Bowersock described for us last month. I will present them as ‘a friend’s neighbour told me’ just in case the person concerned is reading IU but off the record, only one of them is friend of a friend, the others I watched unfold…with my mouth zipped shut. Continue reading “Does having an agent make you traditionally published?”