September 1, 2009

How to Submit and Query Agents, Part 2

Now that you know the basics, how do you know who to submit to?

Honestly, a huge part is personality, which I can't help you with. Sorry.
I can help you narrow it down. Hopefully, you've done your research and have gone to the websites I gave you in Part 1. If not, I'd highly recommend you go back and do that.

After that, what I do is start pulling up the websites of literary agencies. That's right. One. At. A. Time. It's tedious. It takes forever. But I like to be thorough. Like I said before, I use QueryTracker to do this. I search their database for any and all agencies that take the genre of my current book (in this case, young adult fantasy) and I get a handful of pages of agencies.

I'll go to each agency's website. First impression: Is the website professional looking? Do they publish books similar to mine (at least somewhat)? If so, I keep going.

Usually, they have a page that lists the agents that work at that particular literary agency. Go there. I read each bio and try to get a feel for which agent is the best fit for my book. Things I consider: what genres they take, how much experience they have, what authors they've worked with, and overall gut feeling.

DO NOT submit to more than one agent at the same agency. Find the best one for you and if you think it's a good fit, query him or her. If it's not a good fit, move on to the next agency.

Here's why: Let's say you have the next Twilight novel and you go to Good Publishing Literary Agency. (not a great name, but hey--I'm winging it.) Agent A represents paranormal romance and Agent B at the same agency represents young adult urban fantasy (most likely, there'll be some overlap). If you submit to agent A at Good Publishing Literary Agency and they decide it's not right for them, but that the book has great publishing potential, they'll forward it to agent B. (Maybe Agent A has a full plate or doesn't connect to your character's voice or whatever.)

Next, try to find Submission Guidelines. Each agency has its own preferences. Some may want you to include the first five pages posted at the bottom of your query. Others may want you to have something specific in the subject line. If you don't do this, your query may be deleted without anyone reading it. And that's bad.

Part 3: Query Letters and other fun stuff to send to agents

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