That’s a question I’m asking myself. Recently I sent a query to one agent. I had no hope that the query would be answered. Often, you never hear anything. But, this agent not only responded with a request for some pages, but she did it after just a few days. I was stunned.
For writers to get their foot in the door of the major publishing houses, they must have an agent. The small to medium publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. But the large houses do not. For this reason alone, I decided to seek representation from an agency.
How do go about finding the right agent? First you must understand your genre. What have you written? Most agents specialize. Most agencies specialize. The best way to find the right agency and agent for you is to search the clearing houses. Agent Query and Duotrope both provide agent information. Another way to search for the best agent is to go to conferences and meet and talk to people. I did all this, but finally I invested a little money and paid a student to do the research for me. This was part of the offering Jane Friedman gave me, an offshoot of the Graduate Student Freelancers. They put together a nice list based on my genre. The list was color coded according to the hottest lead to the least hot.
With this list in hand, I visited the agent’s website and read all about that agent and the agency. What kinds of books do they represent? How to these agents support their writers? I also looked up some of the writer’s books on Amazon to get a notion of how they were selling and how many reviews they had. If you see the authors have very few reviews, then they are not getting a lot of exposure. That is not a good sign for the agent’s ability to place the writer with the right house.
Okay, so this agent sent me a request for pages. She did not specify how she wanted those pages sent other than to say, “email the first 50 pages of your novel.” So, do you send a Word doc, a PDF, or do you copy and paste the pages within the email? She did say to send the email inside the stream. I wasn’t sure what to do. Because most agents do not like attachments, I decided to send it in the body of the email. Fingers crossed that was okay!
Now, I wait. How long? you ask. Well…I guess as long as it takes. Because I got a nibble on my line, that means the bait was good. My query worked. If she turns me down after reading the 50 pages, I will ask her what prompted the rejection. And then I will go back and make revisions before I send out my next query.