To Query or Not to Query? That Is the Question…

Looking Up

I’m on a one woman mission to find an agent. I’ve decided that the only way I’ll pursue the traditional publishing route is to have an agent on my side. I know zero about contract negotiations and whatnot, so this seems like the most logical way to go about it. If, by some cosmic mistake I can’t find an agent to represent me, (and this would be a cosmic mistake because of course I’m frickin’ brilliant) then I will find a fantastic editor and pursue self-publishing along with e-publishing. But I really want an agent. Being able to procure an agent will validate my writing. I’m the first to say that you should believe in yourself. And I do. But it would be nice to have that professional validation. Agents are exposed to thousands of writers, and for one to choose to represent me….well, let’s just say I would be tickled pink.

Here’s the thing though: I have the nerve to be picky about who I want to represent me. This will be my first time publishing a novel, but despite my lack of experience I still want the best. What I’ve discovered so far is that choosing which agents to query is much harder than one would think. So I’ve decided to share my process of selection. Two things to keep in mind: this process is still evolving, and I’m a newbie so this is NOT expert advice.  If you, or someone you know, has experience in choosing an agent PLEASE, by all means, leave a comment!

How I’m Choosing Which Agents to Query

  • Read the acknowledgements sections of  some of my favorite authors from my genre–Authors of class pretty much always sing their agents praises, especially if that agent goes to bat for them. Then it’s on to cyber snooping, or ‘er research.
  • Verify that they represent my genre–You’d be surprised how often agents switch up what kind of authors they represent. The last thing I want to do is waste my time querying an agent who does not represent my genre.
  • Verify that they are taking submissions–If they aren’t taking submissions, I don’t want to waste their time or mine. It sucks because some really great agents only take submissions based upon referrals. But it is what it is. That’s why networking is so important!
  • Research authors they’ve represented previously–If the agent doesn’t represent big name authors, then I like to snoop around a little and see if the authors they do represent are easy to find. ie can find their books easily on Amazon and other major retailer’s websites? Because if the authors they represent disappear into the abyss, I’m perfectly capable of doing the same on my own. Just saying.
  • Research which publishing houses they’ve sold to–I’m a publishing house label whore. There, I’ve said it. I actually get a little hot under the collar when I see that an agent has sold to some of the big five. Don’t judge me.
  • Snoop on their Twitter pages–This is mainly because I’m nosy. It really doesn’t have much of a bearing on my final decision to query, but it lets me learn a little bit about the agent. If they don’t have much of a Twitter presence, it could be because they are out pitching like crazy for their clients.
  • Put those that accept queries and submissions by email at the top of my list–What can I say? I’m a product of my generation. Faster is better. Plus, postage costs can quickly add up. Might as well save a dime where ever you can.
  • Obsessively check email.
  • Pray. 
  • Neurotically check email.

So, this is my process for now. I also keep an Excel spreadsheet with details like agency name and website, agent name and email, submissions guidelines, details regarding authors represented, date I queried and estimated response time. A great resource is Querytracker.net. They offer a plethora of information on agents. Keep in mind that some of the information can be dated, so always double-check for accuracy.

What do you think? Is there anything missing from my process? Let me know below!

Photo credit: Corey Templeton / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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4 thoughts on “To Query or Not to Query? That Is the Question…

  1. I think your process is pretty good (but you forgot the part about banging your head against the wall:) I think that if this is truly the route you want to go, keep at it. Agentquery is also a good resources, as well as Publisher’s Marketplace. And if you can get to a conference and pitch in person, even better. Good luck to you!

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    • Lol, yep head banging should definitely be on that list! I’ll have to check out those resources you named. I’ve been looking into attending a writer’s conference at some point in 2014. They’re expensive, but well worth it from what I’ve heard. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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