In August, my dear friend Alexandra texted me with a proposal that we finish our novels and start sending them to agents in March. To be clear, these are the novels we started back in grad school, going on eight years ago. They’ve been close to done for a long time, but we have both been dragging our feet on the final steps. So we made a bet. The deal was, we had to have a query letter ready to go, a manuscript to back it up, and an agent hit list (a list of 30 agents we would be thrilled to be represented by) before mid-March.
Here she is writing me a check for $1,000. And you can see the one I wrote to her there on the table. They are dated for March 15, 2017.
The Agent Hit List
Last week, I finished a pass at my most recent draft and started handing copies out to a couple choice beta readers. While they’re reading, I am working on my next story, title TBD, for NaNoWriMo. As of today, I’m 25,000 words in and absolutely loving the pace, but I also need to not lose track of my goals for this first novel.
The biggest hurdle I’m facing right now is compiling that list of agents. But I’ve been thinking about it. Here are the ideas I’ve come up with for where to look:
- The Pile of Business Cards I’ve Collected at Conferences
When I was in grad school we would have events and panels focused around agents. I’ve also attended a handful of conferences where I am always sure to attend any session that focuses on agents. In my experience, they always have cards to hand out. Any time an agent struck me as a good fit for my novel I was sure to get their card. Even though it’s been a while, they expressed interest in my project, in person, and so they are definitely on the list.
- My Friends Who Have Agents
This one will require a little tact, but I have a lot of writer friends at this point, and many of them have agents. So part of my agent search will include me reaching out to my network of friends to see who might be willing to make an introduction.
- Acknowledgements of Books I Think Are Similar to Mine
At the back of every book is a section that includes the words “I couldn’t have done this without…” Pretty much every writer thanks their agent, so I’m going back through all the books that I’ve loved, any book that has similarities to my project, and doing a little sleuthing to figure out who the author’s agent is.
- General Online Search
If the above three sources can’t get me to 30 names, then I plan to hit up some online resources. Writer’s Digest has an online guide to Literary Agents. And then there’s AgentQuery.com. More than recent sales stats or basic genre matches, I’m looking for someone who will love and champion my book, so this is my last resort, but it’s good to know it’s available as a resource.
Do you have a go-to resource for finding agents to query? If so, lay it on me.