Agent Buffet

Yesterday was another fabulous winter weather day for me. Meaning –  the day job was closed so I got to spend the entire day writing.

Only, I didn’t write one single word. I shopped online.

I’m not talking about browsing for shoes, deciding what to read next or hunting down kitschy Sci-Fi t-shirts. (Although that does sound like fun now that I think about it.)  I spent a good portion of my weekend and my Monday morning researching literary agents.

I’ve polished my manuscript as much as I can, so it’s time for me to find an agent who wants to partner with me to sell my work to a publisher. It’s not as easy as that one sentence can make it sound.  I sat down at the laptop with my SCBWI Publishing Guide, my spreadsheet at the ready, opened and loaded, and I kind of had this “now what” moment.

It turns out that finding an agent isn’t as easy as clicking a few links.  In fact, finding for an agent is much like going to the longest all-you-can-eat buffet you can find on an empty stomach.  The choices are mouth-watering and endless. You just have to decide what you’re hungry for.

Do you really want the fried chicken –  the seasoned vet who requires exclusive queries and only replies when she requests pages? Or are you hungrier for the spicy shrimp of an agent with a smaller client list who responds within a week?

Authors have to be careful –  choose the wrong dish and you could wind up with a case of rejection indigestion.

I did my research. I used QueryTracker and Publisher’s Marketplace. I read blogs and twitter feeds. I considered other writer’s comments and opinions, looked at notes from meetings and conferences.  I used almost every color highlight that Excel has to organize my choices into one big tasty menu spreadsheet.

Next I worked to hone my query to the individual agents on my list. I even found a few tweaks to make in the query based on agent wish lists. It took some time, but in the end, I believe it will pay off. My top choice agent – the prime rib of the bunch – may end up passing on my manuscript, but at least I know I’ve sent her my best effort tailored specifically to her.  And now I have a list, a smorgasbord if you will, of other agents I can query if she passes.

The author/agent relationship is vitally important in the publishing world.  Each author has to find the agent that will be as excited about the manuscript as they are. Each agent has to find the authors that will commit professionally to make the manuscript as polished and professional as it can be.  I believe there is someone out there that will be perfect for me and vice versa.  Working together on a manuscript we both are excited about will produce a delicious combo. You might say that I’m “Mac” looking for my “Cheese.”


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