Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Post Nano Series: Researching Agents or Stalker 101

Ooops, this is Wednesday's post a bit early.

Here is my first Post Nano letter to my region of awesome writers. Hope you enjoy it as well. 

You may wonder why I'm writing this before all of the editing posts? Picking which agents to query when you are all finished polishing that shiny new novel is A LOT more work than you might think. It's best to start now, so when the time comes you'll be ready.

The main idea here is to learn as much as you can about an agent before you query them. Make sure they are looking for your style of writing. Check out their blogs, their facebook page, their twitter feed to get a feel if you would like working with them. Channel the stalker. Become the stalker.

*cough* *throat clearing* What was I saying? Anyway...

Step One: Find some names. I like QueryTracker, but there are other places you can look for agents. Query Tracker has three ways to search: genre, specific agent or agency, and how they receive submissions and such. Below I typed in my genre. Since I write a science fantasy mix, I added both genres to make sure I've covered my bases.

Hit search and this is what comes up.
I now have a list of names, their agency, and I can see if they accept regular mail (envelope) or email (lightning bolt) queries. (This is page 2 of my search. The check means I've already added them to my personal list, and the frowning face means I've queried and received a pass.)

Step 2: Research one of those names. I clicked on Sara LaPolla because she has a lot of searchable material. When you click on a name you are taken to this screen where you get more information.
Now I have her email, a link to her agency web page, her blog and I can follow her on twitter. I check out all of these links, and I follow blog and twitter. This helps me get a feel for her personality.

You also see the tabs across the top. Clicking on these will give you information that Query Tracker has collected based on information submitted by users of the site. For example, reports will show you how many people on Query Tracker sent in a query, how long it took for them to get a response and what that response was.
Check out the other tabs. For now, let's go to her agency page.
Yay, more official information. While I am at an agency's page, I often browse other agents to see if there are other names that might fit with my style. If I find some, I type in their name on the query tracker search and add them to my list.

I also click on the submissions link. This tells me what they expect to see with my query and any formatting specifics if there are any.

Alright, I also check out her blog and follow on twitter.  Now, if you find a blog, search through it and find all the goodies the agent may have hidden in his/her posts. In other words, READ THE BLOG, as much of it as you can.

NOTE: Krista V over at Mother. Write. (Repeat). has interviewed several agents. Scroll down on the right hand sidebar to see who and read what they are looking for.

Another great place to browse agents is Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog. He has tons of great info here, but I'll start you on the Agent Interview page. Often the agent will tell you exactly what they hope to see in your query letter and how to set it up. Some want you to jump right in with the query, others want the personal info first, most don't have a preference. Read these to find out if they do have a preference!

Step 3: Keep track of what you find.
Twitter--I have a list for agents. This way I can have a column for just agent tweets on my tweet deck (I'll save that for another post). HOVER. READ. REPLY. LEARN. STALK. Wait, don't stalk, at least not the creepy kind. Although if you think about it...
Excel--I created an excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the information I gather online about prospective agents. When I query an agent, I add the day I queried and then the dates I get replies. I also color code them by date so I can visually see who I have queried and who is still fair game.

Step 4: Write and send the Query. Don't worry, I have an email/post for that too.

Other helpful links on How to Find a Literary Agent:
From Nathan Bransford
Advice from Writers.net
More from About.com-- we will cover the topics mentioned here in the next few weeks.
University of Pheonix makes these suggestions.
There is also Agent Query but for some reason this one is harder for me than Query Tracker. My mind doesn't fit well here.
Casey McCormick does a lot of Agent research and posts the info on her blog, too! She always gets some good info.
Another resource to dig through is Publisher's Marketplace. You can search pages for a particular genre.


  1. I keep an excel spreadsheet too. It's super helpful.

  2. Casey McCormick does a lot of Agent research and posts the info on her blog, too! She always gets some good info.

  3. Really helpful post. I've been avoiding doing this for some time, but I know I need to start. Your steps make it seem less daunting. Thanks!

  4. This is a really helpful post! I'm thinking the spreadsheet is a fantastic idea!


  5. Excellent post! Thank you for the heads up on query tracker. I've been usung agentquery.com and have been thinking about checking out other sites.

  6. Hoping my current publisher likes and accepts the sequel to my book! If not, then I'll probably start seeking another publisher rather than an agent.

  7. Perfect tips. It's a lot of hard work to find an agent, and it can't be ignored. I was especially amused by the Excel spreadsheet, which resembles mine quite a bit.

  8. Ditto the 'excellent post' comments.

    Another resource to dig through is

    and their search pages for a particular genre.
    I find hidden gems on those pages.

  9. This is really useful information. Thank you.

    Although I'm not ready at the moment to send any queries, I guess now's the time to explore a bit more deeply so I don't end up with six months' research to do when I am ready. Knowledge is the key.

  10. Great post, Charity, and thanks for the shout-out!

  11. Yaaaaay spreadsheets! I like how you've color coded them as well.

    My only "concern" is there doesn't seem to be many agents really high on my priority list. There is only a handful that I have found that I think I would love to work with. *sigh* Maybe I need to search again.

  12. Thanks everyone! This post is a back door effort to motivate myself to get started again as well.

    good luck with all your searching. I'm going to go check out the two new sites suggested in the comments. :)

  13. This is very helpful, thanks, Charity. I'm bookmarking this to refer back to when I'm ready to query.

  14. Excellent post! Sooo helpful! Thank you!



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