Agents may seem like an elite society, one that’s closed off to the general public, but they aren’t. They’re very busy and have individual interests, and will only select novels they enjoy and think will sell, but they are looking for that next novel. Here’s some things you should know:
- Complete manuscript. Make sure your manuscript is complete before you query an agent. If an agent requests a full manuscript, it’d be a major bummer to not have one ready. It’s rare for an agent to even request a full, so if and when it happens, be ready.
- Do your homework. Know what the agent represents before you send them your query. If they’re into comedy, don’t send them a dark and gritty story that has no comic relief. Also, try to keep up to date with what agents want. What they were looking for last year, they probably aren’t still looking for this year
- No fees. You don’t pay agents. They look at your submission, decide if they’re interested, and then choose to either represent you or not. They get a slice of your book deal. If an agent asks for a reading fee, don’t give it to them. In fact, don’t continue to contact them. They’re either a scam artist or are really bad at their job.
- Be professional. Your query needs to look good. No spelling errors. No grammatical issues. Make sure to include word count, genre, book title (in all caps), and a way to contact you. And don’t send an angry email to an agent when they reject you (and if you are like most people, you will get rejected). It’s not personal. The agent doesn’t know you, and they know very little about your book. They just weren’t interested in what they read.
- The Reminder. Sometimes you’ll send out your query and hear nothing from an agent. Most agents will give an estimated response time (i.e.- 6-8 weeks). If you don’t hear anything from them in that time frame, send a very concise and polite reminder email. (Waiting a week or two after the estimated response time doesn’t hurt either.) However, if you don’t hear anything after that, then it’s time to write the agent off.
- Social Media. In today’s world, social media is important, whether you want it to be or not. Agents are on social media, which is a good thing. You can follow them on Twitter, see what they up to in agent interviews, find out how to query them via their website, and find out if they’re going to be at any upcoming writing conferences. Also, get active on social media. It’s very unusual for an author to not be an active member of today’s social media scene.
- Agents aren’t required. You don’t need an agent to get published. You can self publish or go straight to a publishing house (though this is more for small publishers). Agents may make your life easier (I said may), but you won’t be ostracized for getting published without an agent.
All in all, the relationship between an agent and an author is give and take. If the relationship isn’t synergetic, then that agent may not be right for you.