Contacting A Literary Agent

As I was creating a spreadsheet of various agents to contact I came across a few things that surprised me. I would like to share them with you. If you have started the query process please post any helpful websites or information you discovered, thanks!

Not this sort of agent, though they might help…

I discovered most of the contact information for various agencies using a splendid site. Simply selected the type of novel you are writing and follow the directions. I do not count myself a detail oriented person but even I, who am as easily distracted as a house cat, can be sure to find an agent or two to submit a query or chapters. The marvelous thing about AgentQuery is that they tell you if a particular agent is open to submissions and if they accept email queries to speed up the submission process and target agents who want to hear from writers now.

The first thing I need to finish is my query, but some agencies want a variety of items. Some just want a query, others want a query and a bio, more want a query a bio and a few sample chapters, and even more wanted a query a bio and fifty pages of your novel sent. Once I get a list of about fifty or so, I will begin putting the queries and chapters each agency requires.

The submission guidelines are relatively easy to locate, just click the link in Agentquery to access a particular agent and click on their submission guidelines. I was surprised how easy it is to submit the required information. Most encourage new writers with open arms and even tell you ways to interact with them so they can get to know you as you submit your work.

Another nugget of assistance was discovered on an agency website The Knight Agency. They listed information on how to write a proposal, query, and how to make your work stand out. I was also happy to discover most agents provide helpful tips on many things like query letters, tell you how to get through spam filters and why disqualifies most authors, besides poor writing.

How about you? Are you are the submission process yet? What is your plan of action?



9 thoughts on “Contacting A Literary Agent

  1. Query Tracker is great too. This free service keeps who I query in a somewhat less-than-chaotic fashion. I have a premium account though. Well worth the 25 bucks a year.

    1. Shannon, thanks for the question! There are a number of reasons.

      1. Submission errors like -Not putting the correct attention name on the submission (query or proposal). Thus the wrong agent gets it at the agency (say they do nonfiction and get a fantasy query) and it is deleted, no response.

      2. Not following directions i.e. no attachments via email (and they are sent as an attachment), email only submissions (and it is snail mailed), snail mail only submissions (and it is emailed), or the agency is closed to a certain type of submission and the want to be author sends it anyway.

      I read again and again in the query process for each agency and many have certain methods of submission and contact. Some don’t want unsolicited queries; some only want established authors. Taking a careful look at the submission guidelines can go a long way towards making sure you get the response: “please send more!” or “sorry we aren’t interested”. The latter is hard, however, I’d rather have that then sorry, “You didn’t follow the directions!”

      Now this makes agents look a bit snobbish, but they must have a precise process in place because of the droves of us authors trying to get representation.

      1. Bob, I thought it might be something like that.

        Interesting to note that this sort of thing doesn’t just apply to authors. I’ve heard the same issues mentioned regarding applying for scholarships, college admissions, and graduate school admissions.

        I was at a PTA meeting when something was taking forever due to late submissions. I suggested that no late submissions should be accepted in the future (but let them know that because they had been accepted in the past). You’d have thought I suggested torture from the responses. I’m thinking, “This will help teach them responsibility and to meet deadlines.” Apparently, the parents don’t like deadlines… often the same ones who were complaining about others missing the cutoff. The moral of the story: there’s a reason so many people can’t follow directions. Schools (& parents) are teaching that it’s ok.

  2. Yes indeed. There is such a war between creativity and goals and boundaries. Deadlines and directions can be our worst enemies and our best friends. Thankfully the submission process is clearly spelled out.

  3. Pingback: All About Publishing « Part-Time Novel

  4. Pingback: Ask Josh | How Do I Find a Writing Agent? | Josh Mosey | Writer

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