I know I'm late posting today's blog, but I didn't forgot. I woke up late at 8:30 this morning and have been deluged with work stuff! All week it's been two steps forward, three steps back. (Gak! Someone just this second called to add another item to today's to-do list) Plus I'm frantically keeping up with my agent submissions, which is a good topic for today's post.
Well, not the submission process, but just how a writer goes about choosing "who" to submit to. There are a lot of agents out there, some legit, some not so much, and some that are just a waste of paper and postage. So how do we separate the wheat from the chaff?
It's a combination of things, but with such easy access to resources on the Internet, I'd like to start there. Most of you know about these already, but for those who don't, here's an important list:
Agent Query – Fabulous tool for a quick search of agents in your genre with links to their websites and their pages at Publisher's Marketplace.
Publisher's Marketplace – A great way to keep up on all the industry news, who is selling what to whom, and even a few publishing deals are posted. Be aware that not all deals appear here, but it's still a great way to keep up with what's happening in the market and what's selling today as opposed to what sold a couple of years ago that now appear on book store shelves. I find the $20/month subscription fee well worth it.
QueryTracker.net – Excellent tool for not only researching agents, but for keeping track of your submissions. And there's a nice archive of articles about agents, writing and publishing. It can even generate reports based on an agent's response rate, or genres represented, etc. Good stuff.
Absolute Write – Very helpful discussions go on in the forums at AW's Water Cooler. You can learn a lot about various agents first hand here, but like most gossip, you have to take it with a grain of salt. It's up to you to verify if stories are true or not.
Agent blogs – The best ones are Bookends, Nathan Bransford, and Kristin Nelson, though there are dozens of others as well. What's really helpful is that these agents post links to other agent blogs so you don't have to make endless searches.
Agent websites – These are invaluable resources for checking out the agents you think may be a good fit for your project. Here's where you can find the submission guidelines and lists of their clients, whose websites you might also want to check out. It can be a good gauge as to how their agent helped shape their careers.
Preditors and Editors – This is where you go to see if an agent is legit or not, or if any major complaints have been filed against them. Again, like with the Absolute Write Water Cooler, a lot of this information is based on word of mouth. Most is true, but I imagine some of it is bogus. A few writers make whine out of their sour grapes.
Now, away from the Internet resources, there's no replacement for networking. That means writer friends and conferences, where you meet and greet, and soak up lots of industry information. I'm not a conference whore, but I'd like to be. 8^) Maybe if I win the lottery. But seriously, nothing beats face to face meetings with agents, or even just listening to them speak on a panel. You can get a taste of their personalities and working style. Just because an agent makes great deals and accepts the genre you write doesn't necessarily make them a good match for you. I've scratched a few agents off my list after a glimpse of their personality or attitude. There are even a couple of agent blogs out there that made me change my mind about an agent or two, and not in a good way.
So what methods do you use for researching agents? Did you start your agent list before or after you finished your book?