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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰ ) 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 πŸ˜‰

Rainbows and puppies, people!

I know, I know. Writing is harsh business. Well, the writing of a good query and synopsis is at least. For everyone who’s sort of stuck with that at the moment (not me [yet] heh…), read this post by Nathan Bransford about the odds against you and resonance factors.

Then, think of puppies and rainbows and query Nathan 8)

Queries

No, Gods forbid, I’m not anywhere near the stage of query writing yet, but since I was recently asked for some help in terms of query writing, let me snowball you with a bunch of linky-awesomeness. Whether you’re at the point of writing a query yet or not, definitely check out the following:

How to find a Literary Agent – unfortunately they don’t fall from the sky….why ever does this remind me of that scene in Dogma “Prophets don’t just fall from the sky!” Hmmm, great movie πŸ˜€

Your Rights as an Author – Never, and I repeat NEVER fall for agencies asking you for reading fees or editing fees in advance et cetera…

Also, definitely check out before querying:

Writer Beware

Preditors & Editors

Miss Snark – dearly departed, but so full of wisdom πŸ™‚

Love Nathan Bransford’s simplified query formula btw:

Dear [Agent name],

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist’s quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist’s goal].

[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author’s credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]

And no, this is NOT how you should write your query, it’s a strictly simplified formula. Nonetheless, if you can’t fill this out in less than a minute your novel might need some serious work.

Anatomy of a Good Query Letter I and II

How to list your publishing credits – if you have any. If you don’t, then that’s fine, because publishing credits alone don’t get your agent hooked, let alone your book sold.

How To Respond to a Request for a Partial Yes, you’ve written a great query and perked an agent’s interest. They’ve asked you for a partial. Don’t ruin it by sending off your partial without letting the agent know what query the partial is referring to…

How to Format your Manuscript (just a friendly reminder: the next person who makes me get all hysterical about using Times New Roman or Courier New gets kicked πŸ˜‰ )

Also, if you want to get a really cool critique for your query letter, submit your bestest, most-polished baby to Query Shark and trust Janet Reid to tell you what’s what with that πŸ˜‰ In my opinion a great idea if you’d like to get some professional feedback, but also really informative (and entertaining) to read since the site gives you some helpful tips and tricks as you go.

I’m pretty sure that most of you are very well aware that all those links are also in my sidebar to the right, but still I thought I’d emphasize some of them, especially Nathan Bransford’s great How To posts. There are a lot of agents out there who are ready and willing to give some great advice!

One thing that makes me roll my eyes whenever I hear it is that too many writers out there think they can just query anyone and that querying is a thing quickly done without much if any research. Sorry, but you’re wrong about that guys and all you’ll be most likely to accomplish is get rejection after rejection, because you haven’t even googled the agency’s submission guidelines. Not a good idea πŸ˜‰ Not that anyone who frequents the blogosphere would do that, but…ya know πŸ˜‰

Anyway,Β  there’s probably much more to say and many more people to link to in terms of queries, agents and publishing, but the above mentioned ones are just a few helpful links that I really like myself. Another thing I’d definitely recommend is frequenting at least a few agents’ blogs, because they often have awesome advice about the do’s and don’t’s of querying and the publishing world. You find a bunch of awesome ones under “Agents’ Blogs” in my sidebar too πŸ™‚

Happy querying everyone πŸ˜€

Query Shark

Query Shark is a rather new blog project maintained by Janet Reid, agent for Fine Print Literary Management, posting and critiquing query letters. Note that these queries are NOT regular queries sent to her directly, but ones that are specifically sent to her email to be critiqued on Query Shark.

So if you’re about to query or even if you just need some general ideas about how to write and structure your query letter, Query Shark is one of those places to go. Besides that it also is entertaining at times πŸ™‚

Yes, size does matter…

…anywayΒ  here’s a post from Jennifer Jackson’s blog that had me laughing up a lung yesterday. I know I’m a slacky poster. Anyway, enjoy and learn πŸ˜‰

This is why you should NOT submit paper-queries to some agents ;)

…because God’s wrath is fierce πŸ˜‰ (Swiped from Colleen Lindsay’s blog and the reason of me almost peeing my pants at the office this morning because I had to laugh so hard)

god-kills-kitten.gif