Saturday, May 19, 2012

Getting to know you (aka agent-stalking)

I'm not stalking ... just curious
Hopping on the query train is a scary thing for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that you're looking for more than just someone who thinks you have potential and therefore will try and fix/sell your work. In many ways, you're looking for a partner ... as Anne would say: 'a kindred spirit.'

You've made your spreadsheet, with all the names of potential agents, and the work they've repped in the past, some of it (hopefully) somewhat in the same literary universe as yours. You've read at least one or two or twenty of the novels they've represented. You've got some sort of rating system where by  gut instinct use of an elaborate algorithm derived from years of research, you've determined your exact agent-writer matchability score. But then you start to personalize your query letters and you panic. 'How well do I really know this agent? Are we really the best fit? What are their pet peeves? What do they like to see in a query letter and what don't they? Do they like a personalized intro first or the pitch first? Is this book right for them right now? Will they even like me??'

Interwebs to the Rescue!  -- Agent Interviews
Thankfully the internet is a beautiful place, and much of this information is right at our fingertips. In addition to QueryTracker, Agent Query, Publisher's Marketplace, there are all sorts of places to find transcripts of interviews where agents dish on their likes/dislikes and generally provide all sorts of useful insight for the nervous querier. Here are some of the best sites I've found for agent interviews:
Haunting author blogs and twitter feeds are also great ways to get to know your potential future agent. And remember, it's not stalking, it's research! ; )

What about you?  What are your tips for researching literary agents? How do you personalize your queries? Have you ever launched an agent to the top of your list based on the personality you've seen shine through in blogs posts or interviews?


  1. Even after doing a ton of individualized research, I still have trouble knowing exactly what to say in the personalization sentence. There's some sort of balance between specificity and stalkerish-ness and irrelevance... Still working on that. :)

  2. I went through a whole bunch of agonising a while back when I thought I was going to try the traditional publishing route. The sad truth is, I don't think there are really any real tips besides the obvious big no no's. The whole process is so subjective. My fingers are crossed for you though. It'll be all worth it in the end.

  3. Thank you for the research. It's tough, tough, tough to find an agent that really fits, and even when you think you have the perfect match, you're often rewarded by that "just isn't right for me" rejection letter. D'oh!

    I've found the easiest way for me is to compile my research onto my blog. It helps a lot of other folks find agents, but it's really my tool of finding an agent for myself.

  4. I tend to find the agents at the top of my list by either looking up the agent who represents authors of books similar to mine or based on their feedback during contests like Secret Agent or Baker's Dozen on MSFV or the current Writer's Voice. For me, seeing how the agents comment on pieces similar to mine really helps me to decide who to query first. And then, it's easy to personalize my query since I can reference specific examples of writing I know they like and compare it to mine.

  5. Following agents on twitter, their blogs even signing up for their pitch sessions at conferences is an acceptable stalking strategy - but cornering them in the bathroom, hallways, or spouting things on their blogs is a big no-no, lol!

  6. Thank you so much for this article! It's really helpful and the resources are awesome. I'm putting the finishing touches on my WIP and then I'll be working on queries and agents, and this will make my life a lot less stressful. Thanks!

  7. You've listed some great sites here! It seems like just about every agent I meet at a conference shoots to the top of my list - they're usually so wonderful in person!

  8. Thank you for this! I was querying and used this obsessively...I mean.... What. I just looked at them a few times. It's nice to be reminded again of where to look when I need to start querying again :-D

  9. I'm sure I will be utilizing all of these in the very near future as I get ready to start querying (*gulp*). Thanks for sharing!



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