15 thoughts on “Everything I Know About Getting an Agent

  1. I’ve had contact with a few agents, but more through luck than anything else… one thing I think is important is to give the right impression in a contact letter; they need to be able to see something in you as well as your work. And sometimes they’ll sign someone based on something in a work, rather than it being immediately publishable, so the sample chapters are very important to get just right. It’s probably good to approach an agent who is known to specialize in your genre or form as well; more chance they’ll know what they’re looking for. That all seems pretty sensible, though… other than that, I’m just as much in the dark.

    I remember Stephen King had some interesting thoughts on it in his On Writing memoir… I can’t seem to find the right page now, though. Doesn’t that always happen – just when you want something, it disappears. πŸ˜‰

    Hey CJ,
    I think I’ve done pretty much all of those things. Although, I’m not sure I could manuever their seeing something in me unless I had super powers. πŸ˜‰


  2. Coffee does seem like a good place to start! Along with positive intention and visualisation, courage and fortitude!
    Keep going girl!

    Yes, must get more coffee. πŸ˜†


  3. I have no real experience, BUT…. I recently saw Sandra Brown speak at a local fund-raising event. No, wait a minute, that’s not who said it. I heard an interview on NPR radio station with Doubleday editor, Nan Talese.
    She said to look at the books written by your favorite authors, and see if they mention their agent in their “acknowledgements.” Then send that agent a short letter, introducing yourself, along with the first 3 chapters of your book, and then say how they can contact you if they are interested in seeing more.

    Good luck!!!!

    Thanks Lolly – I’m pretty much doing this – well researching and finding agents and sending them what they ask for. Is that the same thing?


  4. Ah, MsChickie. It’ll happen for ya.
    Im lovin’ the photo presentation you did.

    Hey Red,
    Thanks for your good thoughts. And thanks for noticing my photo composition – it ain’t easy making rejection letters look interesting. πŸ˜‰


  5. I found this online yesterday (before I’d even read your post). This is what one of my publishers (SourceBooks.com) wants to see from an author and/or agent so I would assume this is what the agent would want to see in the beginning, as well. I believe this is mainly for non-fiction work, but I’m assuming the submission criteria for fiction is at least somewhat similar.

    –A brief synopsis in 1-2 paragraphs
    –Author bio or resume specifying credentials and publication credits, if any
    –A complete table of contents, plus estimated length of manuscript in words and pages
    –Two to three sample chapters (not the first)
    –A description of the target audience
    –One page/paragraph on your book’s unique advantages
    –A list of competing or comparable titles and how your book differs

    I used an agent who specializes in non-fiction with one of my books, but the weird thing about my situation is that I didn’t find her … she found me (through a friend of a friend of a friend). Nepotism is alive and well in the publishing world. πŸ˜‰


    Hey Debi,
    Thanks for this. The fiction list is surprisingly similar. And based on the listings I found – each agent has their own particular list. Though if you can find me one of those nepotism thingies I’d be much obliged. πŸ˜†


  6. What, like a disease-causing agent? I can help with that…

    You know, DT – I’m starting to wonder if there is some sort of disease involved.


  7. Hi WC,

    Sorry, but my blank list only goes to 5, so I should be asking you.

    Oh, there is a rumor that an annual publication called the “Writer’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents,” may be of some help, offering at least a place to start your search, but I never put much stock such things.

    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    It’s hard to keep a long list of blankness, I agree.

    I think I’ve been through all the books. I’m doing what they all say to do – yet the answer is no. Maybe this is a character building exercise?


  8. I heard a NY agent speak at the WC I attended and he basically said that we had a better chance of getting struck by lightning than getting published these days because all the publishing companies have been bought up by huge corporations-which means that agents/editors are no longer able to pick up a piece just because they love it, they have to follow strict guidelines. Everyone left that class totally bummed out. But then I got to thinking that everyone always says that breaking into the writing industry is too hard. But what isn’t? Musicians, doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc. are all competing for jobs these days. You have to have the best grades, the best music, a lot of money, etc. It’s always something. I say put the books away (all except for Writer’s Market 08) , you know what to do. And you’re doing it. It’s going to take perserverance, determination, and stamina. It’s just you against the masses and by God, you will rise up triumphly if you just never quit, never give up. You’re a great writer. You know it, we all know it. Someday those asses will figure that out too. Your only job is to keep submitting and submitting and submitting and it will happen. Think of it as a numbers game. I know it’s frustrating, and we all feel that, but at least you are submitting. That’s the first step. Now, perhaps that little voice is telling you to “wait” because it knows that you are bound for greatness as I know you are. You just have to promise me that when you go on tour with your first bestseller that you will visit my little podunk town so I can be first in line for that john hancock of yours…oh and perhaps some coffee.

    Hey Kim,
    I found your comment about the NY agent oddly comforting. At least I can take it less personally, right?

    Toward the end, I could swear i heard a John Williams score building to a wild crescendo at the end – I think I even heard some applause. Thanks. πŸ˜†


  9. Apparently, you know all the same things about getting an agent that I do… 😦

    Wow, together we could write an empty how-to book. It has possibilities, doncha think? πŸ˜†


  10. Hi WC,

    It has nothing to do with character, but with status. The publishing industry is built around who knows who and the resulting social reactions that spin off that. Several people have done experiments where they change the title of a major literary work and shop it around, only to find that War And Peace or Gone With The Wind would never get published today.

    The good news is that self-publishing and ebooks are starting to come into their own. I’m currently exploring this aspect of things for the Brit, and, if you’re interested, I’ll be happy to share my findings.

    Don’t give up.

    the Grit

    Hi Grit,
    No, I’m not giving up – just realized that though I’m doing all the right things apparently, I’m still nowhere in the knowledge department on this. Sure, send anything you want to me about it. As they say, it can’t hoit. πŸ˜‰


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