Thursday, June 11, 2015

Best Sources When Searching for an Agent

I'm often asked where an author can find out the information she needs when querying agents. Who are the best agents in her genre? What are they looking for now? What are the submission guidelines and how to know if they're reputable?

I usually tell them that a subscription to Publishers Marketplace is worth its weight in gold and that you can't go wrong with websites like AbsoluteWrite and QueryTracker, both of which rely on the reporting of other authors. A great way to learn the nitty-gritty of what agents are doing. Beyond that however, I was feeling a little out of touch. Where were authors going these days to find agents. So I asked Twitter. My source in all things (okay, most things).

@BookEndsJessica Agent Spotlight by @Casey_McCormick is an incredible resource!
5/27/15, 11:19 AM

Agreed! You weren't kidding. The information on this website is exhaustive and some of the best of the best are on that list. I would recommend the site for those querying even beyond children's books. Some of those agents crossover. It's also a great way to get a feel for different agents, their tastes, and their thoughts on publishing and, maybe, life.

@BookEndsJessica I just used Google. A lot of Google. A lot of poking around on agency websites. #thehardway
5/27/15, 11:20 AM
I actually don't think you went about it the hard way at all. I think you should have tagged this #thesmartway. Sure it wasn't someone else's easy to find list, but you ensured that the information you were getting was always the most reliable and, hopefully, the most updated. No matter where you're getting your information always, always back up what you have by going to the agent's website. It should be your final stop.

@BookEndsJessica Literary Rambles, Query Tracker, Publisher's Marketplace, acknowledgements of similar books
5/27/15, 11:24 AM

Score #2 for Literary Rambles. However, what grabbed me here was the acknowledgements. It's something I've often suggested to writers and it's a great idea. Start your list now. Whenever you read a book check the acknowledgements (its actually the first thing I always do) and write down the names of the agents. It's a great starting point.

@BookEndsJessica Query Tracker + agency websites & stalking #MSWL ;-)
5/27/15, 11:36 AM
Oh my goodness! How did I forget #MSWL? I love #MSWL and it's one of the first things I told Moe to do when she started at BookEnds. Get on that I said. For those unfamiliar with Twitter this is a hashtag used when editors and agents post the kinds of manuscripts they'd like to see. There's also a handy #MSWL website for those who aren't Tweeters.

@BookEndsJessica @MandyHubbard Twitter's recommendations of who I should follow. I click on the profile and check out the agency from there.
5/27/15, 11:54 AM

@BookEndsJessica @MandyHubbard It's a slow process. I do 20-30min of research/day. That way, when my MS is ready, I'm good to query,
5/27/15, 12:01 PM
Betty_Days had some of the most interesting ideas. I think checking out Twitter recommendations is a great start, but please remember that there are a lot of agents who aren't on Twitter, or any social media. What I liked most is her comment about it being a slow process. It is and it should be. Part of your job of being an author is this research and waiting until you've written the book to start researching is going to make it a long and arduous process. Instead commit some time each day to stay in touch with the business. Research, make lists, make charts, and then, when it's time to submit, do a quick check and send those queries out.

Other great suggestions including organizations like RWA, MWA or SCBWI. But if you're just starting to think about agents this is a great place to go.


Charlene Ross said...

Great list, Jessica. Thank you. I've also had a lot of luck with Well, luck as in finding a long list of dream agents who've rejected my query (HA!), but you know what I mean. :)

John Frain said...

One word: Thank you!

Shoot, I even have to edit my wordy Comments.

DLM said...

AbsoluteWrite is okay as a backup once you're researching a specific agent. But the fora are not organized the way many actual research sites are, and the community can be highly combative if you actually try to participate in the fora.

Personally, I got the best lists out of AgentQuery, which you can search by genre and has a pretty deep database, including quite a bit of info and agency links for super-easy research. I've always found it has far more "hits" than QueryTracker, though I do use the latter as well.

Writers Digest is also extremely good, and updated constantly. I haven't seen much new on #MSWL since February or so.

Caitlin Lane said...

Thanks for putting this list together! I'm in the endless process of querying (aren't we all?) and it can be difficult to locate agents I think would be interested in my novel. I also second Writers Digest as a good source.

AJ Blythe said...

A very timely post!

I have used QueryTracker to start gathering a list of agents who represent my genre. I haven't yet gone through my fave books to see who represents them. It's on my to-do list, I'm just not there yet.

Although I am now aware that the author I would most love to be compared to, my all time fave in the genre, is represented by this agency! Had a total fangirl moment yesterday (almost as good as meeting in person). Thanks, JF =)