The How and Why To Get An Agent

So I recently joined the League of Utah Writers (LUW), because hey, in the end there are a bunch of really fun people there who aren’t all LDS šŸ˜‰ But seriously, I rather like the system. My local writing chapter as it’s called meets every second Monday of the month at the local Barnes&Noble (in Layton, even though I live in Roy now) and they always have some interesting speakers there. Yesterday YA author Wendy Toliver spoke about agents and the advantages having one to represent you gives you as a writer.

Personally, since I first started looking at writing from a more serious angle, it was pretty clear to me that getting an agent and going through the whole query-process is pretty much the way I want to go. I mean really, this may sound a little mean and condescending, but who of us has any clue about contract law and knows about all the little things that are hidden in the contract you get to sign when you eventually land a booksale? I certainly don’t.

And in the end, shouldn’t your job as a writer be just that: to write? In my opinion working on your book should be your prior concern without being your own agent and PR all-in-one. That’s what your agent’s there for. It’s them who (hopefully šŸ˜‰ ) like your work enough to be all enthusiastic about it and pitch it to editors and publishers they think are right for you. Plus, let’s face it, it’s the professional and often faster way to go. I guess everyone who keeps an eye on agent and publishing blogs will agree with me that the slush pile is your natural enemy as a writer and that’s exactly where most of your agent-less submissions will end up at. I know a ton of people in my writing group and elsewhere who thought they could bypass the query and agenting process and just submit directly to the publisher. Really, ask them how long they’ve been waiting for a reply and how many manuscripts they submitted in total. Trust me, you won’t like the answer.

Now of course there’s the question about which agent is right for you and that’s where your homework begins. Researching agents, getting to know them, reading their blogs and submission guidelines is one way to go, but what if you don’t even know where to start? Here are a few helpful links that can give you an idea about which agents are out there and what they represent:

Publishers Marketplace and Agent Query definitely give you a good overview about who’s out there and if they might be interested in your book. However, you always want to cross-check that with Preditors & Editors and Writer Beware to make sure that you are submitting to a serious agent.

And of course, we all love the internet and the fact that there are so many great agent blogs out there. Fortunately I had some great help from a friend who linked me to a bunch of them and after browsing them for a while I certainly do have my favorites among them. Hopefully by the time I’m ready for querying they’ll still be accepting new authors so that I get my shot. We’ll see about that šŸ˜‰


2 Responses to “The How and Why To Get An Agent”

  1. Darcy Says:

    Here here to that! Research is so incredibly important. The bulk of all rejections letters are because the writer A.) didn’t research the submission guidelines or B.) didn’t research the publisher’s or agents other books. Just because a publisher is listed as an academic publisher in LMP for instance doesn’t mean they publish in the field of zoology. The same is certainly true for agents. The niche markets they represent are an important part of their reputation. They are looking for titles that will boost that.

  2. Alex Moore Says:

    When I began writing the query letter for a specific agent, she was still accepting unsolicited manuscripts; unfortunately, by the time I was done (& sent it off), she was no longer accepting them! Things change so rapidly in this writing world!

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