It's hard when you start out writing and have no connections in the publishing world. When I started I had no clue where to look. A lot of newbie writers fall into predatorial traps. They find so-called agents that want to publish their work that contact you with the efficiency of blood-thirsty telemarketers. They feed you lines, like your work is so close to perfection--you're so amazing!--that you just need to fix a few typos and with a small FEE they will find the right publisher for you in no time at all.
This is WRONG. Don't fall for it. I almost did, lo those many years ago when I first started out. Then I stopped and thought for half a second and realized this pretend agency had on hire a rainbow-barfing cat aimed in my direction. After dusting pink and blue fairy dust out from beneath my eyelids, I went to work finding the RIGHT way to do things.
Perhaps this seemed hard at first, but Google didn't betray me a second time. I researched books, found an author that was working with my husband's law firm at the time and between the two I got some great insight. If you can find a writer they are usually quite helpful. The lady I talked to was so enthusiastic I had to keep my pen working until my hand-cramps stopped me. She gave me so much info that I soon saw I had a lot of options. But more than that I found that I had a lot of studying to do before I sought out said beloved agent. My work wasn't ready.
But that's another post entirely.
The ways I've found most helpful in finding an agent are these:
- JEFF HERMAN'S GUIDE TO BOOK PUBLISHERS, EDITORS, & LITERARY AGENTS. If you do nothing else but buy this book, you'll be taking a step in the right direction. Not only does Mr. Herman keep an up-to-date list of agents and their preferences, he also gives you article after article of tips and advice on how to perfect the craft. Just an FYI though, agents sometimes change preferences on their websites after Jeff's book has been sent to the printers, so you want to double check online to see if the agent is really a fit for your work. It's always good to do as much research on each agent as possible before submitting to them anyway.
- WRITERS CONFERENCES. If you can't go to one to meet key people (for me it was too expensive in the beginning. Hey, I was a struggling artist!), you can at least go online and type in "Writer's Conferences" and it will pull up a bazillion of them for you. After you do this, check to see who is currently attending them. You can Google the names of each agent or their agency, see if they have blogs and at the very least check out what types of MS (manuscripts) they are accepting and what their guidelines are for submissions. Some will click delete as soon as they get a query letter if you don't follow their steps to the 'T'. So do your research!
- BOOKS. Look in books that are similar to the one you've written. Sometimes the author will mention their agent in a section devoted to thanking the people who helped them get published. Sometimes this doesn't pan out. They may not cover your genre, but at the very least (if there is an agent mentioned in the book) you can go to the agent's website and maybe find another agent in their agency that can help, or find a link to their blog with other cool info.
- BOOK BLOGGERS. There a tons of bloggers that review books out there hoping you will become part of their special brand of follower. Many have so many followers that writers and publishers send them books to give away as prizes to contests they throw. Some have links to author blogs, who have links to their agent's websites or at least give mention to all the fabu people they meet in the publishing industry. This name dropping can be very helpful and give Google even more business as you go on yet another journey of research.
This, at least, is a beginning. Don't underestimate the power of research at any stage of your writing career. It's key. Find a clue, track it over the internet and see where it leads you. Once you're in you'll have a plethora of possibilities to choose from. Follow book bloggers, agents, editors, anyone who can give you more information. It's also a great way to be 'seen'. If you are a regular commentor and get involved this helps get you noticed and helps you as you build a platform.
Ha. Not really. Let's see if anyone can give us some more tips in the comments. If you do, you'll get the prize of...being my friend? =)
In the meantime, I should really be updating my links, eh?