Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Best of Seekerville from the Archives and First Five Pages Critique

The Great Agent Hunt by Tina Radcliffe

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 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). Also, please do not call to check up on your submission; due to the large volume of submissions we receive, we cannot track them individually. If you included a SASE, you will receive a response.

Wendy Lawton: Accepts Adult Fiction & Non Fiction. Books & Such will accept e-mail queries. We do not accept e-mail queries with attachments, or unsolicited phone or postal mail queries.

Rachelle Gardner: I am closed to queries in July and December. Please do not submit during these months, as your query will be deleted without response. I only accept queries by email, NO snail mail. I represent books for the Christian market (CBA) as well as for the general market, and I accept queries for both.

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.

This post first appeared in Seekerville June 3, 2008.

Since this post was written I have received notes from several published authors who usher very important addendum information for all you new writers who are earnestly seeking an agent.

1. Yes. A LOUSY AGENT is worse than NO AGENT.

2. Be VERY CAREFUL about selecting an agent. This person is representing you LEGALLY. It isn't something you do casually just to get a thrill saying you're "agented." Like getting married, you don't cheat on your spouse. You can get divorced. But you don't cheat. Remember that anything your agent sends out or you send out while you are under contract with them is THEIR submission even if you'd break ties with them. Only if you get rejected where you submitted and then you break ties with your agent do you have the right to shop that project around to another agent.

DUE DILIGENCE is the most important thing you can do besides writing the best story you know how. It's your career and no one cares more about your career than YOU.

We offer some other helpful posts that feature agents and agent-tongue-in-cheek, to answer any other agent questions you may have.

Question & Answer with Marlena Fortune

Marlena Fortune Returns

Marlena Fortune Answers Your Questions

Interview with Literary Agent Rachel Zurakowski

Wendy Lawton: Welcome to Seekerville

Welcome Guest Blogger and Agent Extraordinaire, Natasha Kern!

Janet Kobobel Grant of Books & Such Literary, Welcome to Seekerville!

Don't forget...

Today is the last day to be considered for our weekly critique.
More info here.


  1. Finishing final edits for a full request. Will go out this weekend.

    Always up for a critique.


  2. Coffee pot's set.

    Like Walk, critiques are always welcome.


  3. Wow Tina,
    Excellent info. Someone else just recommended AgentQuery. Looks like super info there. :)

    Yep on critique, Walt & Helen, me too.

    may at maythek9spy dot com

  4. Great post, Tina.
    I'm going off to each a whole bag of hershey's chocolate now.

  5. Great post. Helpful. Not something I'm ready for yet, but something to go in the 3-ring binder for later.


  6. Tina, As always, great information on Seekerville and very timely as I've been researching various agents.


  7. Great topic. I had an agent request my first three chapters in February but never heard back. : (

    So, I've been compling a list of submission information for a few agents that I plan to query when my current WIP is finished.

    I'd be up for a critique.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  8. Walt, good luck on your submission! Congrats on the request. Keep us posted!

  9. Rose, in that case, it would be fine to send a polite, courteous e-mail asking the status and being sure they actually got it.

    Things get lost. LOL!


  10. Helen, thanks for the coffee!

    I'm sneaking a few morsels of chocolate from Pepper's bag and melting some in my cup....

  11. Oh, man, Teenster, this was SUCH a great post and one I wished I had when I was querying agents way back when because I was clueless, like so many aspiring writers. Fortunately for me, God had my back with agent extraordinaire, Natasha Kern!

    The only thing I would add to this insightful post is the #1 tip I wish I'd known before I got published:

    Go for an agent first, publisher second.


  12. I can't stress enough taking your time to find not only a stellar agent but the right agent FOR YOU.

    Take time to truly learn their reputation. If you have an editor interested in your work, ask them who the top three agents are that they like to work with. And keep asking.

    Ask LOTS and LOTS of questions. Interview them. A good agent will interview you as well and take time to research you and not just take you on when you have a contract offer on the table.

    An agent needs to be an assett for you and you for them.

    Agents work differently but none are perfect just like authors aren't. Find out what is most important to you in an agent and look for a match depending on what you can live with.

    Pray for the right one! LOL.


  13. Walt!!! Congrats on the request for the full. Those are like water in the desert.

  14. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Thank you, Helen!

    Cheryl and Jules thanks for adding your sage advice.

  15. DH and I went to B/N last night and I practically squealed when I saw books by people I 'know' ;). DH was not nearly as impressed! I also got GMC in the mail yesterday!

    Thank you so much, Tina, for the great tips!

    I think I already mentioned I'd love the critique but here we go again :).

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  16. Hi everyone! still waking up here...brought some breakfast tacos and a box of shipley's donuts...


  17. Sigh. Agents scare me. :-) And I'm not ready for one yet...but when I am I know where to get the inside scoop. Love the happy camel, by the way. He looks so blissful!

  18. Thanks for the post. I'm going to keep this handy :)

    Oh, and I'd definitely love to enter for a critique--love that feedback!

  19. Wow, what an amazing amount of information. It will take days to go through it all. Thanks so much for compiling it!

    Congrats on your request, Walt! Hope they love it.

    I think I already put my name in for a critique, but just in case, please add me! This is going to be a VERY popular feature.

    Have weekend everyone. Can't wait for that extra hour of sleep!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  20. As always, Great post Teenster.

    Good advice folks.

  21. Tina,

    What a timely post for me! Thank you! Saturdays are crazy for me with all the mom stuff, so after skimming it I saved it to refer to when I get back to working on my proposal. I'm always up for a critique!

    lr. mullin at live. com

    Walt, way to go! Congrats!

    Breakfast: Biscuits with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, hot tea, coffee, OJ, and milk. Mmm...


  22. GREAT stuff! And would LOVE a five-page critique.

  23. I'm finally drinking my first cup of coffee - but love the links - thanks for bringing them out of the archives.

    Count me in for a critique! I'm in the midst of going through some judges results from contests so it would be great to get feedback based on the changes I make.

  24. Walt, congratulations on the full request!

    Tina, wow, so much great info to read!

    Julie, interesting that you said to get an agent before a publisher, I'll have to look into that more. Anyone published without an agent or do you all have agents?

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  25. Let's see...13 of the 15 Seekers have agents. Many sold before they got an agent.

  26. Google ate my first post!



    Great agent info here. Have I mentioned that I love my agent, Wendy Lawton?

    Just sayin'....

    Grabbing coffee before Google eats me again.

  27. So, where'd everybody go? Only 26 comments? That's just not right. This is a GREAT post!


  28. Tina, thanks always for the info.

    And Ruthy I'm glad you like your agent - don't want to ever find out what a bad agent-writer relationship looks like.

  29. Linnette, a lot of us M-F work outside the home folks write all weekend. :)

    That's a good reason to use the archives on Saturday and WE ed on Sunday.