This extract is from my latest ‘how to’ book aimed at new and developing writers – Please find attached – A guide to getting your work in front of agents and publishers. It’s available to download from today.
There are many ways to track down a literary agent. A sure-fire hit (and a book everyone tells you to buy) is the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It’s packed with listing for agents (and publishers), some giving advice on what they might be looking for and current client lists. There’s also an associated website. The book itself offers a range of advice articles and ‘state of the market’ summaries to help you bone up on what’s currently selling.
It’s long been the aspiring authors’ bible. The publisher of the Yearbook also offers a range of of ‘companion’ volumes that cover crime fiction, children’s fiction, life writing and historical fiction.
The problem with any reference book is that it goes out of date the second it leaves the printing press. The website is a good place to get a more current overview, but there are much better online tools out there to assist you in your search.
Websites to help find a literary agent
In the UK, I recommend Agent Hunter. If you’re in the US, stick to Agent Query (or Writer’s Market). None of these sites are free. They will expect a small sum in exchange for access to their market intelligence.
This is where you need to take care. There are plenty of insipid copies of the sites out there that don’t work as hard to offer up-to-date information. The ones recommended below have proved good for me (and writers I know).
- Agent Hunter: http://www.agenthunter.co.uk/
- First Writer: https://www.firstwriter.com/Agents/
- Agent Query: https://agentquery.com/
- Writer’s Market: http://writersmarket.com/
Create a hit list
Just like when job hunting, you wouldn’t write to every company in the phone book, don’t submit to every literary agent you find. Use the data and intelligence out there to filter your list. The better websites allow you to do just that. They’re updated to show which agents are looking to grow their lists. Use the search functionality on your chosen reference site to find:
- agents who accept work in your genre
- agents actively looking to grow their list
- agents who make it a priority to work with new writers
Search and discover
Supplement your hit list by using any search engine, hunting agents on Twitter. Add to your list until you have a top five or six that you want to approach.
There are plenty of books that teach you how to write – or write better. But then what? ‘Please find attached‘ is a guide for writers who are ready to submit their work to agents or publishers. It explains the role of an agent and the publishing process. It helps writers decide if self-publishing might work better. Along the way, there’s solid advice on how to write a killer query letter, tackle a synopsis that sells, and how to present your work at its best. Practical tips cover formatting and the etiquette of approaching an agent or publisher. It’s invaluable help that other guides tend to gloss over.
A must have for any writer ready to take the next step.