The Freelance Writing Organization - Int'l Writing Links and Resources www.fwointl.com
A free site that hosts thousands of writing resources and links in a massive online database. 40+ genres, funds for writers, job listings, education, news, submission calls, research library. Resources range from adventure to westerns, agents to publishers. Professional resources for editors, journalists and writers.
IN Her Own Write
So what do we do – throw mass queries at big-name agents, perhaps employ the services of a Mafia henchperson or Voodoo practitioner?
That would be a no.
One of the reasons the process is so gruesome is that beginners cluelessly clog the query pipeline with mass-mailings, making agents harder to reach (and way crankier.)
A little research saves everybody grief, and it doesn’t have to cost you. I'm annoyed by mindless rote instructions to "read The Literary Marketplace." At $300 a pop, LM is too costly even for strapped libraries to keep current copies, and in such a fast-changing industry, the latest version is out of date before it sees print. Writer's Market and Jeff Herman's directories are less pricey for the starving writer, but also obsolete on delivery. You can subscribe to online versions of LM for $20 a week, or WM for $3 a month, but I find free sites often have info that is more current.
For A-list agency addresses, the AAR website is up-to-date and free. To find new agents who haven’t been in the business long enough for AAR membership, check Agent Query and our own FWO-Int'l listings. The best sites will indicate which agents are actively looking for clients.
Then follow a few guidelines:
1. Know Your Genre
The most common mistake new writers make is querying agents who don't represent what they write. If you write romance, mystery, science fiction, or fantasy, sites like RWA, MWA, and SFWA offer lists of genre-friendly agents – available even to non-members.
If you write literary or mainstream, browse Amazon entries for books similar in tone or subject to yours. Often Amazon lets you look at the first few pages, where authors may thank their agents. Or peruse your favourite shelf at the local bookstore.
If you don't know your genre, you're not ready to query. This doesn't mean your book isn't good enough. It means you need to learn more about the business. Go to writers conferences, browse every writing site you find, and read, read, read.
2. Visit The Agency Website
The closer to the source, the more up-to-date the info. An agent who accepted queries last quarter may now have a full client list. Submission guidelines change. Someone who took e-queries six months ago may only accept snail mail after a barrage of spam. One agent in a company wants a synopsis with the query; another likes a few pages of text (in the body of an email – never an attachment.)
Look for new agents in established agencies who represent your genre and are building a clientele. Their slush piles may be less than six feet deep, and they might actually read a requested partial, but don’t count on it; my requested partials with SASEs get less than a 50% response rate.
If an agent doesn't have a website, check Publisher’s Marketplace at PublishersLunch.com. Their agent listings are free even to non-members.
3. Read Agent Blogs
Blogging agents provide precious insider information. They can be cranky and snarky, and you may see your own query ridiculed in front of the entire blogosphere, but they give up-to-the-minute news of sales and trends. They’ll tell you what markets are overfilled; what’s on their wish lists, and what faux pas get their panties in a bunch.
My favorite blogs are Miss Snark's and Kristin Nelson's. They update daily and the archives offer mini courses in publishing. Kristin's series, Agenting 101, offers a step-by-step picture of how a contract is negotiated.
The Knight Agency, Wylie Merrick, and Firebrand Literary also offer useful blogs, and more sprout all the time.
Finally, don’t take it personally if the "perfect" agent doesn’t respond. We’re in a brutal business. Go buy a lottery ticket. The odds will be more in your favour.
© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law:
"Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."