My 2018 Resolution: Find an Agent

2018 Resolution Get A Literary Agent #infographic

I am all about resolutions. The beginning of a new year seems like the perfect time to take stock and set goals for the coming months. I like big goals that can be broken down into lots of little steps (and I couldn’t pass up this infographic, which seems pretty spot on to me). Seeing progress even before I cross the finish line keeps me motivated. It’s satisfying.

My 2018 Resolution

For about eight years my goal was to finish my novel. I set that goal every year with every intention of hitting it, and seeing as I wrote something like thirteen drafts, I more or less did hit it, sometimes twice a year, but in 2017 I actually finished a manuscript I was happy with. A copy editor is looking it over this week (because I am the queen of typos), and then I will start sending out queries. So I guess my 2018 resolution is clear enough: to find an agent for my novel.

If I break that goal down into steps, it looks like this:

  1. Compile my list of dream agents, then research and rank them. I have collected about thirty names over the years. Some are agents I met at conferences, some represent writers I adore. I need to look each one up, determine what they want to see in a query, and rank them from one to thirty in terms of being a good fit for my work.
  2. Write a kickass description of my story. This is proving much harder than I expected. I’ve written a few versions, but I’m not happy with it yet.
  3. Bite the bullet and write a full synopsis for my story, because odds are at least one of the agents on my list will want to see the story in its shortest form.
  4. Write cover letters for the first ten agents on my list, being specific about why I’m querying them, and being sure to include all they ask for.
  5. Hit send and find some way to quell the panic that sets in.
  6. Get rejected (it will happen). Call my husband and cry for a few minutes. Then send a carefully crafted query to the next agent on my list.

I have no idea how long this process will take or if it will even be successful. I know I won’t have much time to even start working until the kids are back in school next Monday. Until then, I guess I can work on step 1 when I have a few spare minutes here and there (taking my own advice on how to support my writing while juggling family).

But once our schedules are back to normal, it really shouldn’t take too long to get things rolling. I expect to be cycling through steps 5-6 by the end of January, depending on how long it takes for agents to get back to me.

What Comes Next

I will admit to being nervous, simply because I don’t know what to expect. I have friends who, after finishing their manuscripts, sent out a few queries and within a couple weeks were trying to decide which agent to go with. I also have friends who queried and queried and never heard anything, not even a no – it was just dead air out there. I know writers who received huge advances and others who self published with some success, and even more who just gave up.

I’m trying really hard to shift my mind into a place of detachment. It’s done. I’m happy with it. In my mind, my job is to write the next one. That alone is reward enough for finishing the first.

A Question

That brings me to a question for my readers out there.

I blog about writing, not publishing. I have, in fact, already started writing my next novel and my intention is to continue to blog about what I learn about the actual art of writing as I go, but I’m curious if people want to hear about the process of getting/trying to get published. If so, what in particular do you want to hear about? Or is it just helpful to get the gory blow by blow? I am open to suggestions.

Happy New Years! May it be a great year for us all.

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8 Responses to My 2018 Resolution: Find an Agent

  1. Michael James January 5, 2018 at 9:27 am #

    Good luck with querying! I queried all through Nov / December and (tactically) here’s what I learned you need before you start:
    1. A query letter (d’uh)
    2. A synopsis
    3. Various versions of your manuscript in simple text format:
    – The first five pages
    – The first ten pages
    – The first chapter
    – The first three chapters
    4. A firm knowledge of your genre (literary fiction? Upmarket? Urban Fantasy? Magical realism?)
    5. Word count
    6. An agent tracking spreadsheet – who you queried, when, what email did it go to, etc.
    7. An account at About 10% of the agents would only accept through this portal

    Most agents seem to ask for some combination of 1,2 and 3. Also remember that your manuscript (generally) can’t be sent as a word attachment or PDF. You need to make sure it’s legible and formatted for a plain text only email. I sent multiple “test” emails to myself to make sure it worked.

    Good luck! I hope you have success!

    • April January 12, 2018 at 8:16 am #

      Thank you Michael. That’s a great list to have at hand. Very helpful. And I appreciate the good wishes, too.

  2. Bryan Fagan January 3, 2018 at 4:56 pm #

    You and I must be on the same wave length, my friend. I spent most of my day adding a word or two and subtracting those same words on my query. I had two agents request chapters when I was at the conference in Portland. That was in August and my book was not close to being complete. Now it is but it’s five months later. We’ll see.

    Here’s a piece of advice that a friend gave me: Only worry about the things you can control.

    There is so much stuff that is out of our control and if we worry about it we might give it up. I have a feeling many do.

    You will do fine. Reach out for help if you need to, prepare the best you can and when you hit click, let it go.

    Good thoughts headed your way.

    • April January 4, 2018 at 10:13 am #

      Thank you so much Bryan. That is good advice. Good luck to you too! May we both find agents in 2018!

  3. Raucous Writer January 3, 2018 at 3:00 pm #

    Good luck to you! You might want to read my post about what I learned in my first year of querying, and be ready (just in case, with sincere hopes you land your dream agent) for some unpleasant rejections.

    • April January 4, 2018 at 10:16 am #

      I read your post. Your insights (and it was refreshing to see them in print), seem to line up with what I’ve heard from other writers. It’s good to hear it all again, to prepare for what I’m heading in for. Thanks, and good luck with your novel!

  4. Samantha S. January 3, 2018 at 1:28 pm #

    Good luck!!! That’s a solid plan you’ve got there. It really looks as though you’ve thought about everything and going into it with high but reasonable expectations. Hopefully it all works out for you.
    And yes, I would love to hear about this publishing process and how everything goes.

    • April January 4, 2018 at 10:17 am #

      Thanks for the feedback Samantha. I will keep sharing as things move along (or don’t?). We shall see.

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