Two Sundays ago, I wrote about my befuddlement over what to do with the manuscript for The Reluctant Spy—try to get it published or stuff it into the computer’s innards and let it molder for ages hence. Your responses helped greatly.
Last Sunday, I shared with you the power of a single word—fascinating. Once again, your responses gave me the courage to make the decision detailed below.
This Sunday I’d like to share with you what I’ve being doing in the past seven days. What I haven’t been doing is blogging. That is, reading and commenting on the seventy blogs I enjoy and try to follow.
Because that word fascinating has impelled me to look for an agent . . . and to look in a new way.
In the past few years, I’d done an agent search several times. That involves (1) going to a book such as 2013 Guide to Literary Agents or Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents or (2) searching web sites that list agents such as Literary Rambles for children’s books or AgentQuery.Com.
These books and lists may offer a little or a lot of information about a particular agent or agency: names, address, e-mail address, web site, genre represented. That last item is essential because some agencies represent only nonfiction. Other agencies may represent fiction but only a certain kind: literary, historical, fantasy, contemporary women’s, mystery, mainstream, young adult.
Finding an agent takes time. Thought. Effort. Here’s what I’ve been doing in the past week instead of blogging:
· I wrote a generic query letter for The Reluctant Spy. Crafting the first sentence and paragraph so as to entice an agent into reading the entire letter requires going over it repeatedly. When I begin to contact agencies and agents, I’ll modify that letter as necessary. That is, I’ll mention some book an agent has represented or the agency’s client list or an agent’s particular interest in some area. Finding out that info requires extensive research.
· I studied the books and lists mentioned above to determine which agencies represent fiction, specifically, historical fiction.
· I visited agency web sites to determine two things: the names of those agents in a particular agency who are interested in the type of fiction I have to offer and how they want someone to query them: electronically or by snail mail. Do they want only a letter? Or a letter plus the first five pages of the manuscript? 30 pages? 50 pages?
Slowly, I’m beginning to develop a list of agents to contact.
In the past few years when I’ve done an agent search I’ve taken the easy route—sending out only e-queries. That’s cheaper than snail mail and usually, if the agent does choose to respond, the response comes much quicker than through the mail.
This time, I’m decided to do two things differently—bless that word fascinating! I’m going to send out snail queries and I’m going to send them not only to agencies that represent historical novels—which is what I’ve done in the past—but also to those agents that represent “mainstream” fiction. That’s a breakthrough for me. I believe that in the past I’ve been too narrow in my vision. I’m going to cast a wide net this time.
In this coming week, I hope to continue my search and also to visit each of your blogs at least once. How can I expect you to offer your thoughtful suggestions if I don’t follow your postings? And I so enjoy discovering what you are all doing and thinking.
I’d appreciate any thoughts you have on the process I’ve detailed. I plan to spend the month of September searching lists and sending out queries. I’ll keep you posted. Lots to do . . . and I love it!