Finding an Agent

It’s been over a week and I’m still smiling! Last week I announced I’m now represented by Susan Miller over at Donaghy Literary Group. After several phone calls and emails, I’m thrilled Sue is just as excited about my next project as I am.

The past week has been extremely busy but I’ve been wanting to share how it happened. I’ve spent most of the last six years, when I decided I wanted to submit a manuscript for publication, learning how it’s done. Check out the steps I followed and please ask questions if you need anything clarified.

The Query:

“A query? What’s that?” This is something I’ve heard many times from lay people wondering what the process of publication is. Your query letter is essential and pitches your book idea. Generally, you’ll have a synopsis paragraph that should leave the agents wanting more, information about the manuscript that includes word count and genre, and a bio about you. Be sure to include any past writing credentials.

You will likely want to have someone read it over for you. Believe me, writing a solid query is a daunting process but once you have it right you’ll start getting positive responses and that’s when the magic begins!

The second step in the querying process is gathering additional material. Although some agents only ask for a query, most request the first chapter along with your query letter. Some, even, will want the first fifty pages or even the entire manuscript. I’ve also encountered agents that request a synopsis as well so you should have this ready to go. Here’s a list of what you’ll need before you start sending queries:

  1. Query letter
  2. Synopsis (check agency websites for preferred length)
  3. Complete (edited) manuscript

You’ll find agent preferences and what additional material they desire on their websites or blogs. It’s vital you spend the time checking this out as you want to make a good first impression. I wrote out my query and synopsis as separate word documents so they were easy to copy and paste right in the email body unless specifically requested as an attached document. Never send anything out without first ensuring you’ve catered your request to the preferences of the agent or publisher.

Once you have the above, you’ll want to start researching agents. I used www.querytracker.net and like that agents and publishers are all listed in one easily traversed database. Even without a paid subscription, the database tracks the queries you submit and responses you receive. I love querytracker as it’s very easy to use and divides agents, agencies and publishers by preferred genre. I recommend visiting agency websites directly to confirm the information on querytracker is up to date.

You have your query, your synopsis, your finished, edited, manuscript and your list of agents to submit to. So what are you waiting for? Get those queries out there and get ready to wait. Agents and publishers will generally list their response times and I’ve seen queries come back in less than twenty hours and some not get a response for months. Some agents and publishers are so bogged down they do not have the time respond unless they’re interested in your material. Again, if you’ve done your research you’ll know what to expect.

Good luck!

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