So you’ve finally finished your book! Congratulations! Now it’s on to the terrifying process of trying to find an agent. Yikes! Where to start?
Before you begin looking for an agent, make sure your manuscript is complete and has had a solid edit. In my experience, I didn’t pay anyone for editing services, but I did make sure all the words were spelled correctly and I used proper grammar. Most agents require a synopsis, plot outline, as well as several sample chapters for a submission so have those prepared as well. I found a fantastic website called querytracker.com when I was first starting to research agents. This website is a wonderful resource that organizes credible agents by genre, so you can be confident that your manuscript and submission will end up in the correct hands. Once you have your submission ready, the website provides you with the agent’s email address and tracks their responses.
So you’ve submitted your manuscript. It’s time for you to chew your fingernails to the quick and check your inbox every two minutes. Some agents respond immediately, while others might not reply back for six months. Don’t be discouraged if you receive an instant, “Sounds great, but it’s just not what I’m looking for right now.” I received hundreds of “nos”. Some were polite, but many others were very blunt. It is incredibly hard to swallow rejection, especially if this is your first time putting your book out there. The most important thing is to keep going. Check that agent off the box and move on to the next one on the list.
During this process, try to make your submission stand out. Agents are reading dozens of queries a day; put your personality into the email while remaining professional. There are many templates online that help detail the wording of the query. Use that for the bones, but tailor it to each individual agent. Research other books that they have represented too. If they rep something similar to yours, mention that in your email because it might pique their interest and show that you’ve done your research.
I myself queried my YA thriller/fantasy Dark Flowers for two years. I would sit down and email three or four agents a day. With each sent email, a new flame of hope blossomed in my chest, only to be smothered immediately. But I never stopped. Then, one afternoon, I sent a submission and the agent I queried said, “This sounds really interesting! Can you please send me more?” My jaw hit the table and I twirled around my dining room. I gathered several more sample chapters, along with more information about my characters and sent it away, dreams of becoming a National Bestseller flashing in my head like a movie.
A few days passed and I continued to query, walking on air every time I saw the little Yes in my tracker statistics. Three weeks passed and still, I heard nothing back. To this day, I have yet to receive an email from the agent. Obviously, he read more and wasn’t interested in offering representation and I was such a small thought in the back of his mind that he forgot to tell me.
After this experience, I decided an agent wasn’t for me, so I turned to Indie Publishing. A friend of mine is a writer and gave me the information on the publishing house she signed with to submit my work. Hesitant, I sent along my submission and I heard back the next day. They were very interested in my novel and offered me a chance to join their team. That was three years ago and I have written and published two multi-award winning novels with my amazing publisher BHC Press.
BHC Press introduced me to my incredible editor, took my ideas to mold the perfect covers, and spent countless hours promoting both me and my novels on numerous social media sites. Overall, I didn’t need an agent to be an author. I didn’t need an agent to be successful. I do feel that querying agents is a very helpful process because it helped me develop my book and get to know my characters better through the in-depth information they required, however, it is not the only way to succeed. I wish you great luck with your writing career!
Caytlyn Brooke is a multi-award winning author who loves to explore the darker side of fantasy. She lives in the Southern Tier of New York with her husband Daniel, her son Jack, and her daughter Joanna. Her cat Ana is always lounging beside her in the sun and is only slightly overweight. Caytlyn loves polka dots and cannot wait to skydive. You can find out more about Caytlyn and her books at her publisher’s website.
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