With your genre’s word count met and the last round of edits complete and inputted, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a manuscript: excitement, accomplishment and surprisingly, sadness that the time with that heroine or hero is over for the moment. And now that the book is complete, you ask yourself, what’s next? It’s time to search through literary agencies to start sending your manuscript out in query form. Looking for an agent can be daunting, but here’s what I found in my own time looking for the perfect agent.
A few places to look when searching for your literary agency:
Writers’ Conferences. While you may not be able to attend every conference, you can at least go online and see what agents are attending your favorite conferences. This way, you can have a good list of reputable agents because the chances are that if they are teaching or going to a conference to find new talent, they are serious about their job and will be serious about your career.
Michael Hyatt. This is the best literary agent list for Christian writers that I found online. Go through the list, research the agencies and find out who reps your genre!
Check the acknowledgements page of your favorite authors! Oftentimes, authors will thank their agent on that page. Then, find out where those agents work. If your favorite author’s agent isn’t available, check the agency and see if there is another agent who works there who is looking to represent new talent.
Who do you follow online? Are they in your genre? See who reps them!
When you find a reputable agency whom represents your genre, research their agents. You don’t want to shotgun your query to everyone in the agency. Pick the agent whose interests best fit your work and send your query to them. If you do your agent research, your story will have a much better chance of being reviewed if it is placed in the correct hands. You don’t want to send a Sci-Fi agent your historical fiction. It’s a waste of the agent’s time and it looks lazy on the writer’s part.
In regards to simultaneous submission: the query to proposal to manuscript response process will take anywhere from a day to at least 60 days. It’s horrible to sit around and wait, but it’s the way the writing world works. My recommendation is to send your query to at least 3 agents at a time and then, wait for their responses. If they are all rejections, take any advice they have into careful consideration and REVISE your query. After you’ve reviewed it over several days, send it out again to another 3 agents until they request your proposal and repeat the process.
My first manuscript wasn’t a winner, but after some careful market research and finding the perfect era for myself, I was able to write a manuscript that allowed me to be signed with an amazing agent who works very hard to put my story in the hands of top publishers! So, even if your first manuscript doesn’t get picked up, don’t be discouraged. Write another and try again!
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