Sunday, July 11, 2010

Agent Research

I'm hoping to query my Steampunk in a bit. It still needs a polish or two, but I thought I'd start doing some agent research to see who I'd like to have on my querying list.

I'm using Agent Query and Query Tracker and then checking out the websites for the agents. I love both of these sites. If you're an aspiring author and haven't discovered them, you really should check them out.

Agent Query has a searchable database that gives you a quick overview of each agent and links to more detailed information as well as links to their websites.

Query Tracker also has a searchable database with links to the agent's websites. You can also keep a list of which agents you'd like to query, which query you sent them, dates, responses... It's easier than creating your own spreadsheet - although I did one of those as well.

I've spent hours on this and expect to spend many more. It's really interesting. You can tell a lot about an agency just by looking at their website. There are a ton of incredible agents out there - professional, helpful, busy. I hope to improve my odds, and not waste their time, by doing this research.

So, anyone have any tips to help?

113 comments:

  1. Your doing everything I'm doing. My only advice would be to send out your queries in batches of 5-6. Some of the feedback you receive from each group may suggest changes in your manuscript and if you've already queried everybody and his/her brother, then your stuck.

    Good luck!! :)

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  2. You may have seen Casey McCormick's agent spotlight feature over on her blog. They're fantastic posts- detailed, informative, and they include everything you'd need to submit to that particular agent. Hope this helps!

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  3. Thanks DL - I like the idea of sending out only a few at a time. That way you can find out if it's a query issues quickly too!

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  4. KitLit - you're right. Casey's site is terrific! I've got it bookmarked and I do check it for info on the agents too. She has a fantastic blog! Thanks :)

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  5. Also, Publisher's Marketplace is a great resource. Best of luck to you - can't wait to hear your good news. ;-))

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  6. I used Publisher's Marketplace ($20 amonth fee) at http://www.publishersmarketplace.com
    I received some interest, but my query letter wasn;t very professional or polished at the time. Its since been edited and looking good, so I'll try round two of querying very soon.

    Good luck on your quest. Have a great week.

    Stephen Tremp

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  7. Those are the main resources I used, too. you might want to check out the Blueboards (Vera Kay Blueboards, I think it's called) as there's a lot of comments abt response time (or no response).

    Good luck! Fingers crossed for you!

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  8. Don your protective gear and harden your resolve. Agent Query is the greatest. I've only recently become acquainted with Query Tracker

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  9. Triple your chances by querying publishers as well!!

    http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/peba.htm - full list of publishers & editors
    http://www.sfwa.org/beware/agents.html - guidelines & warnings
    http://www.everywritersresource.com/bookpublishers/ - publisher listing
    http://www.publishingcentral.com/subject.html?sid=250&si=1 - listing of publishers

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  10. Thanks I will check these agent links. I bought a book Jeff Herman's Guide to ... Literary Agents.
    Do you mention in your query that you are querying multiple agents? If so, how do you word that?
    I am NOT approaching publishers because when I find an agent they will need to know all the publishers that I have contacted.
    An agent would not be happy to hear that xxx number of publishers has said no :)

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  11. Are you using the Writer's Market as well?

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  12. And if a hundred publishers say no, an agent's concern about those numbers will be the least of your worries, as you won't have any of them interested either!
    Go for both.
    And if you land a publisher, and have success with your first book or two, an agent will seek you out. Author p.m.terrell went through that process and that is her advice to any new writer - find a publisher first and the agent will come.

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  13. As I don't write books (Novels and such) but poetry I am not in a position to answer, but I do take in all the information there is to writing a book......not that I am planning to but to appreciate what you writers have to go through to achieve the finished product.

    Yvonne.

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  14. Debra - you're so right - I do check PM, but not often enough - thanks for the reminder :)

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  15. Thanks Stephen- PM is definitely a good investment! Good luck to you as well :)

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  16. Mary - thanks - I've never heard of the BlueBoards before - I'll have to check it out. Sounds like a great resource. :)

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  17. Yvonne - Yes - I do need to find some protective armour! I'm such a wimp - gotta work on that tough skin! :)

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  18. Diane - I never actually thought of trying that, but you're so right - it's definitely another option. Thanks so much for the links :)

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  19. Terra - good points!

    I believe agents expect you to query multiple agents at a time. I don't believe you need to mention it anymore - although from what I've read it used to be fairly common.

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  20. Alex - no, actually I'm not. I'll have to check it out though. Anyboday have a few extra hours in the day? :) Thank goodness it's summer!

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  21. Diane - that's really interesting. I hadn't heard that story before! I'm still a bit away from the actual querying, so I've got time to look into it from all angles. Thanks again :)

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  22. Yvonne - you're right - there are a lot of steps and a lot of work that go into any form of writing! You should consider putting your poetry into an anthology - you've got such a lovely way with words. :)

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  23. I use query tracker and visit some of the other ones. Good luck.

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  24. Thanks Susan. QT is an awesome site - so helpful and organized! Love it :)

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  25. Helen - excellent point! I'm working on the letter. I downloaded Elana Johnson's book to help me out - she's got such a great way of looking at things. I hope to have a polished copy in the not too distant future!

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  26. I think between all the comments and what you're already doing, you have it covered. All I can add is, good luck! I know I'll see your name out there one of these days. (Hugs)Indigo

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  27. Thanks Indigo! I hope I'm covering most of the angles. And I'm going slowing so as not to trip over my own feet - I hope :)

    You're a sweetie - thanks so much!

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  28. Best of luck in your querying Jemi! I like AQ and QT too. :)

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  29. Thanks Lisa!

    AQ & QT are totally awesome. When I stumbled onto AQ a year and a half ago, I didn't even know what a query was. I knew NOTHING! Now at least I know a little :)

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  30. Good luck querying!

    I use Query Tracker too. And I check Chuck Sambuchino's Writer's Digest blog because he's doing new agent posts. I've also used Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market.

    You're right, checking the sites is the most helpful.

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  31. You're doing what I plan on doing! :) I've bookmarked those same sites and plan on patrolling them even more when I'm ready to query. Good luck with everything, Jemi, I'll be rooting for ya!

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  32. Theresa - thanks! It's still a ways off yet, but I'm getting ready early :)

    Chuck's blog is another one I enjoy. He has lots of great interviews!

    Thanks for the tips :)

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  33. Julie - thanks! I've got a soft spot for AQ - it was the first writing site I stumbled onto and it's amazing :)

    Good luck to you as well!

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  34. I started off with a small batch and found out pretty quickly if the query worked or not. In my case, it did. Then--only because I knew I had some fast responders--I waited for feedback on the submissions. After that, I began querying more widely--batches of 5-10 every couple of weeks, depending on how many subs I had out. Some people want only a few subs out at a time so they feel they can be more easily managed. It takes patience, persistance, and thick skin.

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  35. Sarah - that sounds like a really smart way to approach it. With email, things can move pretty quickly - not always though!

    I think I've got a pretty good handle on the patience and persistance. Thick skin? Gotta work on it :)

    Thanks!

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  36. Hey, Jemi! I wish you the best of luck in getting your agents and your book published.

    Also thank you for the two agent-searching website, I'll definitely look into those some more.

    Write on!

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  37. I used the usuals, QueryTracker and AgentQuery, but I also googled things like, 'agents looking for thrillers' Sometimes I'd find a blogpost or interview where an agent would say what they were looking for at the moment--not that it helped me, but might be useful for you! ;-)

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  38. Sounds like you're well on your way! I'm sure you already know this, but besides checking out agents' websites, definitely check their blogs for any up-to-the minute info on their query inboxes. Sometimes agents will tell you if they're temporarily closed to submissions, or if they've just cleared their inbox, and it's great info to have.

    If you need a break from the computer, I also recommend Jeff Herman's guide to agents, editors and publishers. A LOT of info in one place, and you can jot down notes in the margins for future reference.

    Best of luck!!

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  39. How exciting! Happy Dance. BTW, thanks for your kind words, I'm feeling MUCH better!

    ~Olivia

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  40. Good luck, Jemi! Wish I had some ideas for you but I'm far from this stage. Am rooting for you.

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  41. Thanks Vatche! I appreciate the support - it's such a tough road :)

    You'll find those 2 sites EXTREMELY helpful - they really are great!

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  42. Thanks Mary - that's a helpful tip. Steampunk is still considered a pretty new genre, so I don't get a whole lot trying the google way - but I'll try it again :)

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  43. Sarah - thanks! That's really good advice! I like the idea of a book - I tend to do all things writing on the computer - but there are other options!

    One of the agents I think might make a great match with the story tweeted the other day that she wasn't taking queries for a few months. *sigh* I'll keep an eye on the others too. Thanks!

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  44. Olivia - glad to hear it - it's tough having those kinds of days. Hope things continue to look up for you :)

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  45. BBD - thanks! I'll take all the well wishes and good thoughts I can get!

    I'm not quite at the stage either - but I much prefer to be prepared in advance! :)

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  46. I've never queried and don't have much practical advice to give except what DL Hammons says: to query in small batches so you can fix your query if necessary. :)

    Good luck!

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  47. Sandy - I think that is really good advice! I'd hate to burn through my list with an ineffective query! Thanks :)

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  48. I like both of those sites, but I use AQ more. Probably because it's the first site I discovered and I'm more used to the layout. But those combined with agent websites and blogs are all very helpful.

    I haven't had the chance to read your other comments, but I'll share a personal bit of advice. When I have time, I like to keep some notes on agents based on what I read on their websites/blogs. Things like "enjoys working with first time authors" or "looking for books that will transport her to a different world". That way, when I'm querying, I try as best I can to place a personality with a name. Helps me keep track better.

    Best of luck!

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  49. Shelley - AQ was the first site I stumbled across too. I love it. So many great people on the AQConnect part of it too. :)

    I like that idea for keeping small notes on agents too. Great idea - I'll add a new column to my spreadsheet! Thanks!

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  50. It must feel great to be at the query stage! Looking forward to hearing how you make out!

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  51. Yay! Congrats, Jemi! This is huge!

    The key is to hit the right agent at the right time - no easy task. As others have mentioned, query in small batches and never give up. I agree, too, that Publishers Marketplace is excellent for in-depth deals research. Once you have your pool of agents ready, consider subscribing for a month or two ($20 USD p/mo) and research the deals the agents have made, how much and to whom.

    Good luck!!!!

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  52. Lynn - actually I think it's mostly terrifying! I'm not quite there yet, but I'm hoping to be prepared for when I am ready!

    Thanks :)

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  53. VR - PM sounds like a great place, but a little overwhelming! I had no idea there was so much involved when I first decided to look into trying to write for publication. I'm glad I didn't - I might have run off screaming :)

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  54. I haven’t started this step yet so I have no insight but I'm thankful for you sharing your steps and stuff you've learned.

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  55. keep 'query shark' in mind, too, and check out the agents in my sidebar [and their blogs] to see who is interested in your genre, they also tell you how to query them

    read 'miss snark', also in sidebar...

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  56. Jemi--Thanks for stopping in at my blog. :) I adore Jackee, I'm so glad I've gotten to know her.

    Agents...

    One of the things Mark McVeigh said to do was to keep a file on each agent. When you read an interview about them jot down any important notes in their file, then when you go start querying for different projects you have all of their info in one spot and its easier to access. I'm firm believer in organization...

    I've googled people plus the word interview and found some good stuff.

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  57. Thanks Holly! It's a scary process. I'm not ready for querying yet, but I'm getting closer. And I like being prepared. :)

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  58. Laughing Wolf - yes - I follow quite a few agent blogs. It amazes me how helpful and kind all these folks are!

    Thanks for the tip :)

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  59. Sharon - that's a REALLY good tip! I've never tried those 2 things. But I know how I'm spending my afternoon now. Awesome! Thanks :)

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  60. I love QT too. Plus the agents are linked to their AQ page.

    I keep forgetting about Casey's blog. And there are a number of bloggers who interview agents. The best thing to do is google the agent and the interview might show up.

    I also google the agent's name and absolute write. That way I can see what others have said about their experience with querying the agent.

    Good luck, Jemi. I'll probably be query this September. Eek!!!!

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  61. Stina - AQ & QT rock! So does Casey. She has such indepth interviews :)

    I may not be ready until then either - I'm just getting ready early! Good luck to you :)

    Thanks for the tips!

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  62. Sounds like you're doing it right. A lot of research will save a whole lot of time and trouble. Good look and keep us posted. I love how the work done by others and the knowdedge shared can help us learn the right way to go about things when our time comes. Keep us updated.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  63. Hi dear, many congrats on your querying!

    I'd love to give you extra advice, but this kind people covered my all knowledge already (and surpassed it). I'm bookmarking this post for future reference. Thanks for sharing! :D

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  64. I agree with the "keep 5 alive" approach.

    And I'll repeat what I've said elsewhere--go to conferences. That can help you bypass the entire angst of the query letter.

    I also look for those who take e-submissions, which nowadays, are most of them. And who let you send pages with the query.

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  65. Lee - thanks! I know what you mean about learning from others. This online writing community is incredibly supportive, helpful and knows so much!

    Thanks for the support.

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  66. Mari - aren't these people great?! This writing community constantly amazes me :)

    Thanks for the support!

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  67. Terry - "keep 5 alive" - I love that!!

    I haven't been able to go to a conference yet - but I'd love to! Living in small city Canada does have a few (very few actually) disadvantages! One of these days I'll get there :)

    Thanks for the tips!

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  68. I also search blog posts for interviews the agents have done. They often (if not all the time) list what they're looking for in interviews like that.

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  69. Elana - thanks for the tip - I haven't searched that way before - but I will! Thanks :)

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  70. Crikey, I can't think of anything to add other than what's been suggested. I like Elana's tip!

    Good luck, Jemi!

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  71. Talli - there's been a ton of good advice, hasn't there? I love my bloggy friends :)

    Thanks so much! :)

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  72. welcome, jemi...

    for the best writing tips and super advice, check out author/screenwriter alexandra sokoloff, also in my sidebar :)

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  73. laughing wolf - thanks! I'll check it out!

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  74. No tips from this corner, Jemi, but I'm enjoying watching your journey! :) Wishing you well!

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  75. Beth - thanks so much! The journey is always a bit of a roller coaster - you never know what's around the next curve. :)

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  76. I have no tips, sorry. I haven't made it to the querying stage yet, but good luck!!

    I just wanted to let you know that I changed blog domains, so my new domain name is: www.kim-franklin.com

    Have a great day!!

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  77. Good luck Jemi!

    I've heard Writer's Market is very good as well.

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  78. My biggest tip is DON'T GIVE UP! It will happen in some way you least expect when you least expect it, but also because you have put in super-human effort. Yes, both can exist at the same time. :)

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  79. There are some great suggestions here in your comments! I'm afraid I don't have anything to add. I use Query Tracker, too, but I'll have to check out Agent Query.

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  80. Good luck! I went through the same thing with my first completed ms and truly have nothing else to add. I do like DL's words though - definitely don't want to send them all out at once. ;)

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  81. Kim - thanks for the support - I'll take all I can get! :)

    Thanks for the updated links - I'll change those in the morning.

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  82. WN - I'll have to look into Writer's Market - I don't know much about that one. Thanks for the tip!

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  83. Lisa Gail - I think that's going to be my new mantra!

    Love it - thanks! :)

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  84. Susan - you'll love Agent Query - it's very friendly to use. It also has a forum site Agent Query Connect that is terrific for aspiring writers!

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  85. Kimberly L - yes DL's advice is good. I think it's a fantastic idea to spread it out a bit. That way you can learn as you go! Thanks! :)

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  86. I did what you're doing, and it sounds like you're going about it the right way. In the end, though, I got my contract by querying small publishers directly.

    Best of luck!

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  87. This is awesome info! I really should be following both of those!!! Thanks Jemi!

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  88. India - glad to hear I'm doing the right things! The whole process is really unnerving isn't it? :)

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  89. Jen - AQ & QT are amazing sites! They're very user-friendly. And the people who run them really are terrific. Very helpful! You'll like them both.

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  90. I love Query Tracker! Looks like you've got this all under control! Can't wait to hear the results when it's time!! :)

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  91. Tiffany - QT is great! Thanks so much. I'm so nervous about getting this close. I know it's going to be hard, and I'm working on growing some tougher skin :)

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  92. Good luck finding an agent! I need to start on this process as well for my horror novel.

    If you're looking for a place to submit short steampunk fiction to, Fissure Magazine is producing a special steampunk edition to celebrate the first-ever steampunk convention in Greenville. Check 'em out on duotrope.com.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today! :)

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  93. B - thank you! I haven't written short fiction, but there are so many signs pointing in this direction lately - maybe it's time to give it a try!

    Thanks so much for the link :)

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  94. Wow, Jemi... what an amazing thread! It's awesome that you are prepping for querying... so exciting, and I'm sure scary as well. But hey... this is the next step toward the dream, right? So excited for you that you are getting closer!

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  95. Thanks Lindsey :)

    I think scary is the defining word! I've spent about 4 hours today on research!

    Thanks again :)

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  96. I think what you're doing is just right! I like both of those helpful sites as well. Reading the agents blogs gives us a peek in to their personalities as well. Best of luck!

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  97. Julie - thanks!

    It is so interesting doing the research - I keep getting caught up and going off in tangents :)

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  98. I'm excited for you! I didn't read the comments (I think mine is the 99th!), but I saw DL Hammons's and I agree about the batch method: if you send them in batches, keeping only 5 or 6 out at a time, you can revise your query, synopsis, or manuscript if any of the feedback makes you feel you should.

    Good luck!

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  99. Thanks Dawn!

    I like DL's method too - sending queries in small batches makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the input & the good wishes - much appreciated! :)

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  100. I'll add my endorsement to those two websites too. I also like to lurk on Absolute Write forums. You can learn a lot about what to expect from an agent by what other querying writers have to say. Too bad I'm too shy to join in the conversation, though! :o)

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  101. Wow you got some great tips here! Plus it sounds like you know how to do your research. I look forward to hearing about your success. My only suggestion is that you hold out for that cute, Tom Cruise look-alike agent.

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  102. Jackee - I've heard of Absolute Write, but I haven't visited it yet. Maybe it's time to go over and lurk a bit :)

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  103. Karen - that might just be the best advice of all :)

    The writing community really knows its stuff - & they're always willing to help!

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  104. Jemi,

    You are the most well-prepared aspiring writer I know. You have all your bases covered and by the time you settle on your query, you will know the right agents to target.

    Best luck~

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  105. Cat - you're such a sweetie! If I'm prepared, it'll be because of great folks like you who have gone before me! Thanks so much :)

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  106. I really like query tracker for the tracking program, comments from others who have queried, and the blog. They also have easy links to Pub Marketplace and other helpful websites. Also Abolute Watercooler is great too.

    Good Luck and keep us posted!

    ~Alyssa
    Teens Read and Write

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  107. I thought of putting my query letter on my blog but I reveal twosts and turns in the plot. So I'd better not. I can reveal some stuff to agents that will help entice them, but I wouldn't want to spoil certain sections of the book to the average reader who may want to buy my book.

    Stephen Tremp

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  108. That's what I would use too, But you can also check out:
    http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/
    Good luck!

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  109. Alyssa - QT really is the most amazing site! I don't know Absolute Watercooler - thanks for the hint - I'll check it out :)

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  110. Stephen - that's a really good point. I like the twists to be a surprise when I'm reading! I'm still working on that query letter. It's tricky to know exactly what will work!

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  111. Jennifer - I haven't used that one either. Thanks for the link! :)

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  112. You don't need no stinking agent. Send your manuscript directly to publishers.

    My experience was that agents would not give first time authors the time of day. One agent suggested I keep writing. He said agents consider more that talent, they consider marketability. He said no one makes money on their first book, so keep writing.

    So I wrote two books, and submitted them together on E-mail attachments. Snail mail was getting too expensive. Still no luck.

    I gave up, but kept writing, a bit angry and frustrated. After a year or so, I had a dozen books in my science fiction series. I sent them all off attached to my queries. When querying by E-mail i figured I'd send the whole thing. Too bad if they don't want to read it all.

    I got a positive reply from a publisher. I was so surprised I at first thought they were scammers. But, no one wanted my money. I insisted my work be accepted as a series, not just one book. Deal!

    After I signed a 3 year publishing contract, my other queries came back positive. Go figure.

    A good resource for a list of small presses is Piers Anthony's website: www.hipiers.com

    Good luck, and keep writing, and don't be discouraged.

    Wally

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  113. Walter - I'm so glad you were able to find a publisher for your work.

    I've always loved Piers Anthony - his books are a riot. I'll have to check out the site.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your advice. :)

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