Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who to Query?

Tip of the Day: try listening to music or going to a concert if you want some writing motivation. You can't help but get pumped up about life, art, and more when at a concert.

Continuing on in our Querypalooza, today leads us to the topic of deciding who to query. Now that you have a sparkly query letter and have waited a sufficient time, how on earth do you figure out what agents and editors to send the query to?

I think some people (cough, me, cough) get it in their head Dream Agents and forget that sometimes the awesome agents other authors have might not work as an Awesome Agent for you. So it's important to keep an open mind when querying. Still be smart about it and do your homework, but try not to limit yourself on who you query.

Some good places to start when making a list of agents you want to query are:

  • Figuring out who represents books/authors you like. Often these people are mentioned in the acknowledgement section of the books. Or Querytracker.net has a nice feature called Who Reps Who that lists authors and their agents.
  • Searching for agents by your genre. The easiest way to do this for me has been using AgentQuery.com and just browsing by agents that rep "young adult" books. Sometimes putting in multiple genres helps narrow down the search further to find agents that might be interested in "mystery" and "young adult" or what ever genre you might write. Another way to do this is by looking in books such as Writer's Market or Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents.
  • Browsing agents on message boards. Depending on what you write, there's usually a message board for it. One of the most popular ones for Middle Grade and YA writers is Verla Kay's Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Board (or the blueboards and they are still most commonly called). The Agent Response board is members-only I believe now. But posting on these boards and becoming a member is so valuable it's worth it, and figuring out agents that might be a good fit is an extra-bonus.
Once you find a list of agents, the best thing to do is research every possible thing you can about them. Do they have a blog? If so, read it. Do they mention their client's books? If so, read it. Or at the very least figure out what the books are about. Do they have a Web site? You better go and look at their current submission standards.

Basically google them as much as possible.

And then submit!

Good luck, and don't forget that just like when trying to find a prince you might have to query a lot of frogs along the way to finding the right agent for you.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious


Kate Fall said...

A lot of books have agent and editor information in the acknowledgements ... I didn't realize how many until I started looking for it. And thanks for the querytracker and Agent Query info. I hope I get to use it before the year ends!

DeenaML said...

Remembering the "dream agent" thing is so true. I'd heard of my agent's agency before, but not her specifically until I did a search on agentquery.com for those who rep YA and Historical. Her name came up! She was also very recently interviewed on the Guide to Lit Agents website! http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Agent+Advice+Chris+Morehouse+Of+Dunham+Literary.aspx
Definitely good to google agent names to find gems like this.

Jen said...

The dream agent thing reminds me of the idea of a dream college. There are so many wonderful places of higher education, and there isn't one "perfect" one. And if you don't get in, it probably wasn't the right place for you.

Anonymous said...

Agent as dream college or dream date. Jen of A2eatwrite is so right. Someone who doesn't work out wouldn't have been the right one. Also, it is possible that there is more than one right one out there.

DeenaML said...

Yes -- dream agent is like ppl talking about their dream college! Very true analogy. And in some ways, both are what you make of them/what your expectations are of them.

Christina Farley said...

Like Kate, I started paying attention to the acknowledgments page. And you can search for names on Amazon too so that helps if you've forgotten.

But still, the task is daunting. I get overwhelmed trying to figure out which agent I could work with well!