So, you’ve written a novel. Great! Now what? Well, if you’ve done several revisions and given it to a reader, a friend is fine, but eventually you really need a professional to read your manuscript, and you’ve made changes based on the recommended suggestions, then you’re ready to begin submitting your manuscript to a literary agent.
This part of the process is probably not the funnest part, but necessary if you hope to get published (I mean by a standard publisher, not self-publishing). The raw creation is really the most pleasurable part of writing, but then we must bite the bullet and send our baby out into the world.
To face much rejection. Let’s just cut to the chase.
I woefully admit that I have avoided this process more than I should have, because I love the creative process so much more than the business side of things, and certainly more than hearing, “No thanks!”
But as the unpublished novels begin to pile up, I find myself mourning the premature deaths of my characters.
I have to remind myself, it’s not for lack of quality. It is simply my own avoidance of the agent query process. But I am determined that 2015 will be the year I take the bull by the horns, and….
Okay, maybe I should turn that cliche around and say, “This is the year I pierce the bull’s heart.”
From my experience, the best way to tackle your agent search is to create an agent database. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of literary agents out there, but you want to find the ones who represent the kind of novel you have written. Your database needs to be an easy-to-read list of agent names, agency, address, contact information, what kinds of genres they represent, and how they like to be queried.
I generally prefer to start with those who accept email queries, so they go at the top of my list.
Next, I search the agent online before I query him or her. I want to study the agency’s website and the agent’s bio page, plus read their blog if they have one. This is extremely important because you will learn so much that way that could make the difference between a successful query and a failed one.
Here are a couple of blogs by literary agents that offer more advice on how to write effective query letters: