Agents: how to find one

June 14, 2011

For those of you not familiar to the bizarre world of publishing, there is a process. First, you write a book. Next you edit. And revise. And edit and revise and edit and revise and edit and revise, and well, you get the picture. When it’s as good as it gets, you decide whether you want to self-publish or find a publishing house to deliver your work. Because self-publishing deserves a blog all its own, I’ll concentrate on traditional publishing here.

First, you need to find an agent who will pitch your book to an editor. The editor’s publishing house will transform your words into a book. The entire process takes time. Lots of time. Some say the average number of years it takes to create a book is four. That’s some serious time.

Believe it or not I’ve been blessed and cursed with two agents. They’re not easy to find and for reasons sometimes out of their control, the agent can’t always deliver. My first agent was with ICM. She represented my non-fiction book, and although it made it to a couple of editorial boards at big publishing houses, it never sold.

Agents handle specific genres. Those who represent authors writing adult non-fiction, rarely represent authors who write for kids. So, when I wrote my middle grade novel, I found a different agent. After a year of searching, my agent with Kirchoff/Wohlberg could not find a home for my middle grade novel. During that time, my dad died and life was lost for a bit. When I came back to the page, I decided to find a different agent who specialized in young adult fiction, because my voice had changed. I wanted to write something new.

My current project, The Crystal Cave, is now complete, and I’m beginning the great agent search yet again. Oh joy. And yet, it is exciting. Please wish me luck.

First, the process begins by doing research. I have a list of agents I’ve met at conferences, as well as a list of agents I’ve either read about or have been referred to by other authors. Websites like Agent Query and Publishers Marketplace offer information about agents. Most literary agencies have websites with specific submission guidelines. They must be followed, exactly.

Once an author is ready to submit, he or she writes a query letter (I’ll devote an entire blog to the query later). If the agent wants to see more, hurrah! However, sometimes an

agent does ask to see more of the work and then, says no. Boo hoo! Even worse, the agent may say yes and takes you on, but still doesn’t sell your work, double boo hoo.

In the end, finding an agent is a long and difficult process, but it can be done. The best advice I can give is to persevere. While you’re searching, keep writing. After all, that’s what you do.


One comment

  1. looking for an agent. about to finish book. Takes place in 1971, but goes back and fourth in time. Are you able to help or advise me.

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