12 steps to securing an agent

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten lots of questions from family and friends on how the submission/agent querying process works.

My response: “It’s complicated.”

So in my typical OCD-ness and in an effort to easily digest the holy smokes amount of information, I wanted to throw together a step-by-step guide for all of you followers out there.

  1. Write a book. Simple, right? Ha! Don’t even bother submitting until you have a full manuscript. This isn’t the case for nonfiction though, a genre unto which I know absolutely nothing about.
  2. Research. My editor gave me the great advice of going to the bookstore and looking for agent names in the acknowledgments of some of my favorite books or others in my genre. I did this for three hours. Yes, it was incredibly helpful. Yes, I felt like a total stalker.
  3. Research again. You have your list of agents. Now it’s time to get to know them. Nobody wants a copy and paste letter, so you find out who they are, who they represent, what they like, what they are looking for. Narrow all of that information down into one line that will tell them you aren’t just blindly sending out queries.
  4. MORE RESEARCH. Now it’s time to give the agents what they want. Each agent has different submission guidelines: query letter, synopsis, first chapter, 50 pages, flowers personally delivered to their place of work. That last one was a joke, but seriously pay close attention to what they want and follow the rules!
  5. Write your query letter and synopsis. Now I am going to be honest with you. I don’t think I’ve ever had this hard of a time writing three pages. Condensing 100K words into 750 is the cruelest method of torture I could endure. But it’s done. I survived. If you’re struggling like I was, check out Sooz at publishingcrawl.com’s article for help!
  6. Start sending your queries. But don’t go too fast. Unless you are an expert, it is inevitable that you’ll forget to change a name or a detail if you copy-and-paste. And as far how many queries you should send out at once, I’d recommend small batches at first. Then you can back up and rework if you don’t get any bites .
  7. Wait.
  8. Agent will respond. Maybe. If you’re lucky. Typically you will receive one of two responses.
    • “Nope, your book is not for me.” If you get this response, repeat steps 2-6 as needed. Your materials can always improve… Don’t give up.
    • “I’d like to see more. Please send over your full manuscript.” Congratulations! You’ve made it one step closer. So what’s next?
  9. Wait some more.
  10. Agent will respond again. Yes, rejection is an option here, too (again just keep repeating steps 2-6). But what you’re hoping for, what you’re “pretty-pleasing with a cherry on top” for is an offer of representation. If you’re lucky enough to receive one…
  11. Sign a contract and celebrate!
  12. Then it’s off to the races… where you get to do all this again with publishers.

Got it? See what I meant when I said “It’s complicated”? But don’t worry, it’s all going to be worth it.

Follow @tauricox on Twitter for more updates plus quotes from my book, State of Grace!

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