I’m not sure if there’s just something in the air besides all the pollen, but in the last week, several folks have asked me about how and where to find literary agents. While I’ve only been querying a short time and while I’m not represented yet, I’ve had some encouraging results from querying some folks I’ve found using the following resources—and I’m happy to share!
RESOURCE 1: GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS
The first place I go to find an agent is Guide to Literary Agents (F+W Media) or the Guide to Literary Agents’ blog. The printed publication is a goldmine in terms of all things agent and query-related, as it offers several helpful articles at the beginning and lists just about every agent and agency under the sun, categorizing them in a number of ways.
The blog features “Agent Advice” interviews, which are especially useful in deciding whom to weed out of my query pool and whom to query (and—bonus—some of the interviews are by moi!). After I indulge in a bit of narcissism, I focus on some of the blog’s other features that offer great insight as far as agents’ preferences of genre and submission guidelines: “How I Got My Agent,” “Successful Queries,” and “New Agency Alerts.”
RESOURCE 2: AGENTQUERY
I also use AgentQuery—it’s a huge database, where you can do basic or advanced searches (by genre, agency, agent, etc.). The profiles matching your search criteria often list what areas the agents seek, personal preferences, clients of theirs, links to Web sites and interviews featuring the agents, and sometimes even recent sales.
RESOURCES 3 & 4: QUERYTRACKER & ABSOLUTE WRITE WATER COOLER
QueryTracker is another database that does a lot of the same things as AgentQuery; however, it offers something AQ does not: queriers’ comments.
While it’s not perfect information, it gives one a sense of the agent’s response times, which sometimes differ greatly from what their agency Web sites denote. Of course, when reading these messages, I take them for what they’re worth. For the most part, though, the comments are informational—it’s not folks griping about being rejected.
For instance, someone will note the date they queried. Then, they’ll come back and note the date of their rejection, sometimes whether or not it was a form rejection, the date of their requests, etc.
Absolute Write Water Cooler is good for this as well, but not all agents are in there because it’s a forum, not a database. I don’t use AWWC as much as the AQ and QT, but if someone requests material from me, I like to dig a little deeper.
RESOURCE 5: AGENCY WEB SITES AND/OR AGENT BLOGS
While AQ and QT offer lots of great information about agents, the trouble with these sites is that the information isn’t always 100% accurate. I just don’t think every agent updates his profile often enough. It doesn’t happen frequently, but on occasion when I’ve used an AQ or QT profile for writing agent interview questions, the agent will come back with: “I don’t rep (insert an area of fiction or nonfiction here).”
That’s why, for the most up-to-date information, I rely on an agent’s bio on his agency Web site or posts he’s written on the subject on an industry blog. It’s true—not all agencies have sites and not all agents blog—but a good number of them do, and it would behoove you to find out before you send that query.
RESOURCE 6: GOOGLE
Sorry, Bing—I’m just not on board yet. But, be sure to do whatever kind of Internet search floats your boat.
You can find interviews, profiles—all kinds of info to help you craft a query that will connect with a specific agent—through simple name searches. (It sometimes helps to add “literary agent” after the name.)
DO I EVER GET TO QUERY?
After I’ve done all that, if I feel like the agent might be interested in what I write, then—yes—I write the query and send it on its merry way.