A gent, see?

a really good agent

a really good agent

Agency means many things: having protagonists that make things happen rather than reacting all the time; being James Bond; doing things on your behalf…

Which is really what finding an agent is all about – finding someone who will manage a lot of the market search and (hopefully) negotiation which, well, can be troubling and error-prone for a new author.

Why Do I Want An Agent?

Two reasons: time and knowledge.

Self-publishing (or, as Chuck Wendig has it, being an author-publisher) is always an option, but being an effective publisher takes an enormous amount of time. I have been tremendously impressed by Laura Stanfill’s results with Forest Avenue Press, but she puts huge effort and energy into that work, and I can’t do that – not on top of a full time job, doing the writing itself, and spending time with my family. The days of posting a slab of text on Amazon and expecting meaningful sales without performing as a publisher are gone (if they were ever really here).

In other words, I need to follow something closer to a traditional publication path just because of the time required otherwise.

As for knowledge… publication involves contracts, and submissions, and networking. I am starting from a very low place in all of those areas. This is of course knowledge that I could acquire (in part, anyway – I would always want to hire a lawyer to review a contract) but see remarks about time above. And would I ever be as effective at those parts of the publication process as a good agent? That seems unlikely.

So I will need a literary agent, just because they will likely be aware of opportunities that I would miss and have experience of the process that I lack.

Why Now?

It’s actually too soon for me to be querying agents.

The most important piece of advice that I have seen relating to contacting agents for fiction representation is that the book needs to be written first, and I don’t have a complete book.

However, I also want to establish the process before I actually start diving in – I like to have my list of things to do. There are a lot of choices out there and I would like to work through those a bit so that I can dig in quickly once I am ready.

How?

This is the bit that I am still working on. I am using two primary resources at the moment:

  • AgentQuery.com – a searchable database of agents
  • QueryTracker – searchable agent database, plus facilities to track which agents you have queried.

Right now I am collecting names, contact details, and query specifics. Those go in a spreadsheet.

Once i have something to query with, I will pick half a dozen agents and send queries in the necessary format to each of them.

When I get rejections back, I will mark that agent off (for this project, anyway) and send out a new query to the next name.

Now to finish the book.

How about you? Do you have an agent? Have you looked?

One Reply to “A gent, see?”

  1. Ian Rose says:

    I’ve started to think about this, too, though I’m probably going to wait a bit. I don’t feel like the one complete book I’ve written and edited is good enough yet to start submitting. One resource you didn’t mention that I would suggest is a blog called Query Shark – http://queryshark.blogspot.com/. It’s been running for about 9 years and basically works as an open professional critique of book queries. They recommend you read the entire archive, which is a lot, but I did it a while back (or most of it anyway), and learned a lot. It’s another thing to look at, anyway. Good luck. I hope you keep moving in this direction and get there when the book is ready.

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