Monday, July 6, 2020

3 Best Ways to Find an Agent

If you’ve written a manuscript and it’s been vetted by a critique group or several beta readers, then you might be ready to start looking for a literary agent. Maybe you’ve had it professionally critiqued several times and you’re ready to have an agent start sending your work out on your behalf. If so, here are three ways to find a literary agent.


If you’ve written a manuscript and it’s been vetted by a critique group or several beta readers, then you might be ready to start looking for a literary agent. Maybe you’ve had it professionally critiqued several times and you’re ready to have an agent start sending your work out on your behalf. If so, here are three ways to find a literary agent.


Writing Conferences



I made a connection with an agent at a writing conference that resulted in landing my first agent. That’s one reason why agents attend writing conferences! They want to find fresh new voices with unique ideas. They’re hoping to find a new writer to add to their list.

When you go to a writing conference, workshop, or retreat, take note of any agents that may be attending. They typically attend larger conferences as opposed to more personal workshops and retreats.

  • Attend their sessions. 
  • Take good notes. 
  • Strike up a conversation.

If the event gives instructions on how to submit to the agents and editors, follow the instructions to the letter!

Here are a few things to NOT do at a conference. Don’t pitch them with your book ideas during the conference (unless that’s a special event happening similar to speed dating). Don’t stalk them and try to slip your manuscript under the bathroom stalls. And definitely don't tell them that you've written the next Harry Potter. If you’re lucky enough to eat lunch at the same table with an agent, don’t talk about your book the whole time. If they ask, give them your elevator pitch in 30 seconds or less (about 1-2 short sentences) what your book is about. Then move on to another topic.


What is MS Wishlist?



MS Wishlist is a website, also known as “Manuscript Wishlist”, that curates wish lists from agents and editors who use the #mswl hashtag on Twitter.

The beauty of this is you can find out what they want and what they’re interested in. This is how I found my second agent. Scout out the website and filter by categories. You’ll likely find a few posts that pique your interest.

Come up with a short “pitch” to reply to their tweet. Ask if they are interested in seeing a formal query letter. If so, they will likely respond and give you a website with detailed instructions for how to submit to them. Good luck!


Acknowledgements in Novels



No, I haven’t gotten a third agent. But I hear this advice all the time. When you’re researching (i.e. reading) books similar to yours, or at least in the same genre, pay attention to the acknowledgments section in the book, especially if it’s a novel.

If it’s a book you like, or a publisher you like, then that agent may be a good fit for you as well. When you reach out to the agent via a submission, mention other books they have represented. They love it when you do your homework.

If it’s a publisher you know you love, then this agent will have a great connection there. This is a great way to research books to find what publishers you like and what agents might be a great fit for you. Keep track of all your findings in a spreadsheet so that you can remember book titles, publishers, and agents that authors mention in their acknowledgements.

And once you get an agent, be sure to KEEP WRITING!

Do you have an agent? If so, how did you find him or her? If not, what other advice have you heard? Share your comment here.


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