OK, this one is for all the aspiring writers out there toiling away behind keyboards, attending writing workshops and reading every inspirational and how-to book they can find. It’s exciting, crazy, fun, scary, daunting, passionate. I know, I’ve been there. In fact, I’m still there. Writing, for me, is like touching a live wire while standing in a puddle. I get that kind of charge from it.
I know there’s always been a debate whether an agent is necessary or not. I’ve expressed my opinion on the matter before and in upcoming articles : hell yes! I know that finding one is just about as arduous a task as getting a book deal. For most, it can be a long slog. For the lucky few, it happens in the blink of an eye. But, it doesn’t happen to either if some homework isn’t done first. So, while you’re busy writing your next book, take time to start looking for your target agents. Build your list so you know who to query when your work is complete (and as near perfection as you can make it).
How do you find them? Actually, this part of the entire writing and publishing process is quite easy.
- Hopefully you read lots of books in the genre you’re writing in (otherwise, how do you know what sells?). Look at the dedication and acknowledgement pages. Plenty of writers take time to thank their agent. Add their name to your list.
- You can go online to Writer’s Market or buy a copy at your local bookstore. They have a full listing of agents. Go through the entire list to find ones looking for work in your genre.
- Join a writing organization. For example, I’m part of the Horror Writer’s Association. They provide lists of agents and publishers that work in horror.
- Attend trade shows and conferences. You’ll not only meet real live agents, but you’ll also build a network of writers with a similar passion. Feel free to pick their brains. Most of us writerly types are happy to share our trade secrets.
- Subscribe to Writer’s Digest and The Writer. Both have great articles by agents, how to find an agent and listings.
If you can manage to do at least most of the above, you’ll have a robust list of agents to reach out to when you’re ready. It’s best to list them in order of preference. I had my dream team of 5 agencies I wanted to work with, and am happy beyond belief to be signed on with one now. The time it took me from saying I wanted to write to getting to where I am today took a long time, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t do my homework.
In the words of David Lee Roth, Class dismissed! Go make your list…and don’t forget to keep writing.