Last week I told you what I did last year. Now I will give you a series of posts sharing what I learned last year. Starting with the answer to “How do you find a literary agent?”
Why, you throw a rock in a bar in Manhattan! Ha, ha.
But seriously, what if you don’t live in Manhattan?
Last year, I learned that there is no one way to get an agent.
There is much advice on the Internet about finding an agent, and much wailing about the agony of finding an agent.
Stephenie Meyer cold-queried to find an agent for “Twilight.” Ignore the part about how writing her book and finding an agent took all of six months. (Although she got a bunch of rejections, so it wasn’t all roses.)
Erin Morgenstern revised her manuscript of “The Night Circus” based on several agents’ feedback, then resubmitted (more than once). (Writing and querying took her more like five years. I know it’s silly, but that makes me like her.)
Kathryn Stockett snuck off to hotels to revise “The Help” while she was looking for an agent.
I think all this sharing of stories stems from the fact that finding an agent is like planning a wedding. It’s a lot of work and a pain in the ass and you hope to never do it again and at the same time you don’t want to waste all that hard-earned knowledge.
Tips for Finding a Literary Agent
So, here are some things you can do to find a literary agent:
- Send out query letters to agents that represent the type of book you have written, asking them to represent the book you have written.
- Attend literary conferences and network, something writers are all really good at, right?
- Tell everyone you know that you finished a novel and want to publish it. Especially tell former writing teachers and friends who live in New York, who have the highest likelihood of actually knowing an agent.
It doesn’t hurt to do all three of these things. I found my agent by cold-querying, but I also tapped a couple of connections.
Links for Finding a Literary Agent
Here’s some advice I like about searching for an agent, and some sites I found useful:
- Nathan Bransford’s “How to find a literary agent“
- Sample query letters from Nelson Literary Agency
- Query Shark
- Database of literary agents
- Another database of literary agents
Finding an agent can take no time at all or a really long time, and no matter how long it takes it can feel like a really long time. It can also feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.
But never fear, because (a) You’ve already done the hard part by finishing your novel (right?) and (b) Anything you want to know about looking for an agent–like, what to do if an agent asks you for an “exclusive,” whatever-the-heck-that-is, or how long to wait before following up after you’ve sent a full manuscript to an agent who requested it–you can find out by Googling, visiting the Janet Reid, Literary Agent website or by asking me in the comments.