The journey to finding the right agent to represent my work is equally exciting and nerve-wracking.
I mentioned The 2013 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino in my last blog but it deserves mentioning again. It truly is an incredible place to begin. It has agencies, the agents within, what they represent, whether they are accepting submissions, how to submit your work and on and on and on.
If you don’t have it then trust me, YOU NEED IT!
It is a wonderful book but implementing a plan to use it was more difficult for me. I made notes and highlighted agents that I had read about previously, but didn’t take any real action. It just felt a little overwhelming to send out unrequested queries to strangers. I still had questions…many questions. (#1: Was I ready, really ready to do this?)
I needed the process to be a little more personal. Obviously, this is not for everyone but I wanted to meet some people in the industry, writers and agents in order to make a more informed decision about my next move.
In April, I was able to juggle my almighty schedule so that I could attend The Writer’s Digest Conference-East. Probably one of the single best gifts that I have ever given myself was this experience.
The conference offered very useful workshops on editing, social media, advice on pitching an agent, discussions on the changing industry but most importantly, I met other writers. It seems making personal connections with like-minded authors was something I truly needed. (Writer Friends!!!)
The next most important thing was participating in the Pitch-Slam session. This is basically speed-dating for agents and authors. (You actually get to meet Agents one on one… albeit for only three minutes but still worth every minute!!!)
This session alone was worth the trip to me for many reasons:
· I met some great inspiring agents.
· I honed my skill at pitching my book.
· I got positive feedback as well as constructive feedback on the spot.
· I was able to discuss my book with people who love books like me.
· It truly demystified the process of finding an agent by putting me directly in front of so many great ones.
· It humanized the big scary agent because I could put names and faces together and actually have a conversation with them.
· It put an industry that previously felt out of reach directly in front of me…there for the taking.
· It reminded me that while writing is somewhat personal it is still a business and if you work at it then you can be successful.
· Sending queries to agents is what authors do.
· Reading queries from authors (slush-pile finds) is what Agents do.
· It ignited a fire inside of me to work harder to get published.
I met a small group of writers at the conference that went through the pitch-slam with me and we compared notes. As it turned out, everyone in my friend group did not get requests for their work. We discussed that in our opinions most of the agents were quite agreeable in person and probably more so than they might be through an anonymous slush-pile query. (In other words, they seemed pretty open to taking a look at quite a few queries, probably more than usual because of the conference environment!!! Very Nice!!!)
All the agents that did say “yes, send me something” had standard requests like; email a query along with your first five pages, some wanted up to first fifty pages. (Nothing crazy or really out of the ordinary!)
It was fun but professional and helped me understand the process of agent and client a little more. My group also agreed that the entire exercise was very beneficial although some of us were more ready than others to move forward. Personally, I got several enthusiastic requests and had many excited conversations about the premise of my novel. I also received a request for the full manuscript from one of my favorite Agencies which did an awful lot to boost my confidence!
Wayfaring sounds so much better than wandering… and I no longer feel like I am lost in my journey but rather have a real path to follow!!
Since the conference, I am much more courageous about querying agents. I have set small but reasonable goals to discover, research, and then query more agents that could be a good fit for me and my work.
Understand that Agents really do want you and you want an Agent! (Winner-Winner Chicken Dinner!) They can only discover manuscripts that are sent to them and so I suggest you send them something!
If you have any other suggestions or ideas, please feel free to share in the comments section of my blog.
Until next time, Keep Writing (and editing and querying!)