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A Compilation of Agent-Finding Tips!
Michael Guarneiri
Posted: Saturday, April 30, 2011 3:25 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 29

I thought it'd be pretty interesting to start a thread for Agent-Finding tips, just something interesting for all of the aspiring authors (myself included) to peruse through. Add one tip (or more). Here's mine: 

I've been told that agents are networking fiends! A great way to get an agent is through another writer (BookCountry! Hazzah!). Thus, ask for a recommendation! An agent's time is limited. They find talent through their trusted writers! 

PS: You should know the published writer before asking for a recommendation. 

Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 3:09 PM
Joined: 5/12/2011
Posts: 241

I'd like to see more action on this thread, so I'm bumping it!

Straight-up disagreeing--well, or adding a contradictory data point to Gena's advice above.

The agents I've bumped elbows with don't like to see self-publishing in a query. It can be a signal to them that a writer is not realistic about how traditional publishing works.

I'm not saying that's correct, or always correct, but I do get a strong sense from most agents that self-publishing and traditional publishing don't mix.

Now I'll say...YET.

I think this is starting to shift a bit and some agents might be more interested in that shift than others. But as a precaution, I would avoid mentioning self-publishing in queries to traditional agents in traditional publishing.
Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 9:59 PM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 12

I'm going to agree with LilySea and say to keep it out of queries. I haven't heard differently that to mention self-publishing is something agents want to see in queries before. It's not considered "published" if you're mentioning your writing credentials, since anyone can be "self-published". The stigma around self-publishing is definitely starting to shift, but until we hear otherwise, I think it's a wise idea to stick to any pieces that might have been published in literary journals, awards, etc. only when mentioning writing credentials in queries.

Michael, I feel like we're sliding away from your point. I think referrals are great ways to get to know new agents, and definitely could lead to a great author-agent relationship, but I think one thing all writers should keep in mind is to respect the connection and the agent unless this agent could honestly be someone you could see yourself working with. Otherwise, I'd hope that most writers wouldn't choose to try to ride those coattails, you know?
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 8:57 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

Jumping in here:

As a former agent, here are the things I wanted to see in queries:

** a strong hook
** a short paragraph with plot
** an appropriate word count
** the genre you think you're writing in (which may or may not be the actual genre you have written; one of the reasons we developed the Genre map on Book Country was to help writers figure this out)
** publishing credits: this should be include your long-form publishing credits (ie, books that were acquired by an editor at a traditional or digital publisher, even if you were not paid an advance) and your short-form publishing credits (literary journals, online magazines, etc).

I have a longer post about whether or when to list publishing credits here: http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/11/reader-question-when-should-you.html

Your publishing credits should NOT include self-published titles unless one of those titles sold 8,000 or more copies. And you should not be querying the book you self-published, again, unless that book sold a significant number of copies.

** brief bio: seriously, one line is fine. we don't need to know how long you have wanted to be a writer, how much you love writing or even what you do for a living (unless your job is relevant to the book; for example, a forensics expert writing a police procedural).

Re referrals: Know the difference between an actual referral and a suggestion from an agent or editor. Actual referrals mean that the agent or editor either reaches out on your behalf, or they give you permission to use their name as a referral in a query letter. An agent saying "I'm not the right person for this; you might want to try so and so." is not a referral.

Hope this helps!

Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 3:26 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

This is an important discussion!! Share tips gathered through experience and indefatigable querying


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