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.
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.
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?