Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Great Agent Hunt

In search of the elusive, philologus procurator---

Genus: Publishing.

Species: Literary Agent.
Habitat: Anywhere there is an internet connection.

Before You Begin Your Hunt:

The two absolute essentials are Miss Snark & Research:

Read the archives of the late Miss Snark. Saturate yourself in her wit and insider industry knowledge. Once you have read the World According to Snark, you are ready for research.

Basic Goals of Research:
  • What does the agent represent? Key words: WE ARE CURRENTLY SEEKING

  • Does the agent accept unsolicited queries?

  • How does the agent want to be queried (more on this later)

  • Has the agent or agency made sales recently? This is your due diligence of the agency.

Where To Research An Agent:

Agent Query

Absolute Write Water Cooler-Bewares & Background Check

Publishers Marketplace



Predators & Editors


And don't forget Word of Mouth

How to Query:

This is the time to follow the rules and not break them. As you research agents also research how they want to be queried. Don't assume. Submission requirements are varied. Here are several examples:

Nelson Literary Agency, LLC: Please send us a one-page query letter by email to query@nelsonagency.com to gauge our level of interest. We do not accept snail mail queries.

Ethan Ellenberg Agency: For fiction, your submission should include:
a synopsis-the first 50 pages (approximately) of your manuscript -a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE)

Don't Query Unless You Are Ready to Submit.

The same is true for pitching at conferences. Don't pitch unless you have a completed manuscript. Be prepared for requests for exclusives.

"We would love to read the first three chapters and a synopsis of your novel on a two-week exclusive basis - with a view toward representing you."

Offers of Representation.

Congrats!! You have landed the BIG ONE!

Discussion questions once you have an offer of representation:

From the Association of Authors Representatives, Inc:

Additional questions from Jessica Faust, at BookEnds, LLC:

I hope this provides some helpful tips to get you started.

Okay, hunters...back to the tents; we'll start our search again, tomorrow.


  1. Good morning, SEEKERVILLE~~~

    Pass the java and make it hot.I've been watching reruns of Indiana Jones and I am ready to start this hunt.

  2. I think im like the camel worn out by reading how much there is to know.
    im back to my tent which the girl guide cookies.

  3. TINA!!! Wow, I could have used this big time before I got my 24 agent rejections!! :) FABULOUS information. The only thing I would add is what was for me, the real clincher:

    Thank God it only takes one.

  4. It's so nice that you guys post early! Thank You!

    It's going to take me some time to get through Miss Snarks archives, but from what I read so far--great stuff and I love her witt.

    Thanks for this, Tina. Lots to learn in here.

  5. Hoping it is helpful ladies. AND GOOD LUCK!

  6. Wow! What a treasure trove of information! Great post, Tina!


  7. Miss Snark is definitely a must! Long live The Snark!!!!

  8. Miss Snark is addictive.

    She's also contagious. If I spend too much time reading her comments, my kids run from the room with their hands over their ears. Poor dog is running too.

  9. lol, Gina. I read all her archives in about two weeks. I'm with you on the addictive thing.

  10. Hey, Tina, the kids went to see the new Indy movie so I know the "twist", but I'm not telling.

    Great Agent Hunt stuff.

    LUV the camel. Poor guy. He looks kinda like some of us after a hard day looking for agents and editors! lol

  11. Thanks Kim.

    AgentQuery is really one of the best for no cash.

  12. Hi there. Crazy day. I can't believe I'm just checking into Seekerville now.
    I just got more work to do, too, so I shouldn't even be here???!!!

    Think of the agent search as practice obeying rules, not unlike contest entries. Some of the rules might be annoying but it's all a TEST to see if you can follow sometimes complex directions.
    Do not write an entire book and then get rejected because you sent a snail mail letter when they wanted an email.

  13. Oh, Tina, that was excellent!!! Thanks so much for all the links.

    I love the photo of the camel! LOL!


  14. Hey Tina! Great stuff! And so important, especially when you've got an agent in your sights and then can't remember what questions you need to ask!

    I'd like to highlight two: How to end the representation should the relationship not work? Of course, we never want good things to end, but sometimes change is good. A termination policy should be part of the contract.

    Also, who takes over should--God forbid--the agent die. Especially important if the agent works alone. Just suppose something would happen, your work could be tied up for months if not longer.

    And a word of caution: Don't take an agent on just because she's willing to represent you. Do your homework. You could be getting into something you'll later regret. Ask around. Authors who are happy with their agents won't mince words. If someone hesitates to give you a positive reply, consider there could be a problem.

  15. I hope there are thin mint girl guide cookies in the tent! I'm going to be hungry after watering that camel!

    How do you know if you are ready to seek representation?

  16. Excellent info, Tina!

    Ann, here are some of my thoughts on when you're ready to seek representation.

    1. You have a completed and polished manuscript that's as ready as you can make it.

    2. The first chapter of the complete is finaling in or winning contests

    3. Editor judges are asking for the complete of your finaling entry.

    4. Your critique partners or mentor are encouraging you to submit.

    Any others signs of readiness, gals?


  17. Tina, great way to pack in an awesome amount of info. I think I'd like to carry a 'mini-Tina' in my back pocket as I traverse the Internet hunting grounds. You know the kind. A tiny motorized version of Tina that whispers the proper questions in my ear, prods me forward, and reminds me that the end result will be worth the somewhat convoluted trip.

    And the smackdowns, LOL!

    Great, great post.

    And even though it's late, pass the coffee. I feel the need for a late-day caffeine kick.

    And one of those crusty bagels with bacon-horseradish cream cheese. I'm not expecting to breathe on anyone of import tonight, to horseradish is allowable.



  18. Janet, awesome advice.

    And you know I think it's also a good idea to know what your career plans are, because no one buys a one book wonder. We have lots of multi book wonders in Seekerville.

  19. Great Post Tina and loaded with useful info. Thanks

  20. TINA!!! WHERE was this post a week and a half ago, huh? When I needed it? But, honestly, after wanting an agent and searching and finally having one call me and say, "I'd like to represent you," I'm not sure I would have asked any of these questions anyway--although they're really GOOD! And now I'm wondering how "my" agent would answer them.

    But it is really important to do extensive research on all the agents you query--or at least on all the ones who request a partial or full. I had a couple request the full, and after I researched them I decided, I think I'd rather have no agent than an iffy agent like this one. So I decided not to submit the full to them.

    And now I'm so glad, because I have a wonderful agent!!! I love her!!!

  21. What a CUTE post! AND relevant, sage advice.

    I have some pretzels stuffed with spinach and feta cheese...no, really, I do. And they are SO good. I swung by Barnes and Noble today and picked up a bagfull to bring. Try one. They're delicious!

    I can't wait to hear Angie speak at the September ACFW conference. Hope you all can make it.

    Also, someone mentioned Miss Snark. I grieved when she stopped blogging. I WISH SHE'D COME BACK TO BLOGDOM! Or at least reveal herself. LOL!


  22. Thanks so much for this info! Bookmarking this page. :)

  23. Lots of good reminders here! Thanks, Tina. I'm pouring a second cup of coffee and getting back to work now. Looking forward to tomorrow's foray.