• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You

I want to respond to yesterday’s post because I hear the frustration about querying agents. As I see it there are three hurdles: the first is generating a list of appropriate agents, the second is the query letter, and the third is judging the material you’re sending. I’ll address #1 tonight. In my opinion, the best way to target appropriate agents is through the website Publisher’s Marketplace ($25 per month). You can search publishing deals by genre. Let’s say you’ve written a memoir, you can search memoir and you will see a long list of sold memoirs, a brief description of the memoir, and the name of the agent who repped it. You can then google that agent, read about him or her, and see what her submission requirements are on her website. You can pull a very targeted list together. Other ways to get names: ask published friends for referrals, go to writer’s conferences and meet agents, look in the acknowledgment of books you like and see if an agent is thanked.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when writers send me projects that our outside my area of expertise such as horror, self-help, how-to, erotical, fiction, health & wellness, parenting, etc. It’s a waste of my time, but it is a colossal waste of time for the writer. As I’ve often said, it’s a rejection you don’t need in a landscape pock marked with rejections. You wouldn’t go to a divorce lawyer if you need help with a house closing. You wouldn’t go to an oncologist for congestive heart failure. You see where I’m going with this. Take the time to research the agents you want to target.

How did you find your agent and/or how do you look for one?

8 Responses

  1. This is perfect advice. If someone wants to be published, there’s homework to be done, a.k.a. hard work – on all fronts, from writing something decent to begin with, to getting help with editing it, to appropriately researching agents, and taking the time to know what fits and what doesn’t. To use another analogy – sending your work to the wrong agent is like going out to buy shoes, and purposefully buying the wrong size. No matter how much you try to cram your foot in, it won’t fit.

    We often hear getting published takes a lot of work and a little luck. My little bit of luck came in the form of a freelance editor who had contacts in NYC. First, she worked with me on my debut. When it was ready, she then queried the ms on my behalf. She would only do this if she believed the work stood a chance at getting an agent’s attention. This was how I got my agent. I’ve been with him for ten years now. There’s more to that story, but that’s essentially what happened. How did I find her? I Googled, and one thing led to another. I’m forever grateful to her. (if anyone’s wondering – I’m sorry to say she retired years ago)

    • OMG it’s been ten years ? I remember when you first found each other AND when she helped me…discover…my true path. I don’t think I ever thanked you for steering me her way.

  2. I got my agent when I published a story in a literary journal.
    They contacted me.

  3. “How did you find your agent and/or how do you look for one?”

    I’ve never had one. Some years back, I stopped looking (I was following the SOP you outlined). I do not think that what I write is what agents are looking to rep. I do not think that who I am is the type of person that agents are looking to rep. I know it’s a very competitive market, and that luck plays a factor. It’s crucial for all writers to remember it’s a market, not a fan club. I still write (of course!), and I shop my short fictions out to litmags. I generally have several published a year, so clearly I have something. But what I have is nothing that I any longer believe a literary agent would be interested in. I have awakened from that dream.

    • It’s freaky to go to Manuscript Wishlist and see what agents ARE looking for. Genres and subgenres I’ve never even imagined–or would have any idea on how to write (or interest in doing so).

  4. I’ve not got an agent. I’ve a one-book deal with a small independent with no advance. Hopefully, we’ll sell ten copies. Stick or twist?

  5. I definitely followed the Publishers Marketplace (professionally appropriate) stalking model. What I did not do was position my book effectively in a market. That’s the next one.

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