Friday 12 October 2012


Hey, just wondering... for those of you who have agents already or are looking for one.  How long does it take usually?  Any tips that might help?  Thanks, Melodie


  1. Melodie--

    Assuming you EVER get one, there are no rules. It's EXTREMELY hard to get an agent in the current publishing climate.

    First, polish your query to within an inch of its life. Get betas to look at it. It has to be BETTER than perfect.

    Polish your manuscript. Ditto on the more than perfect. Especially your first chapter, as it will be seen the most.

    I would suggest setting up an account at Do a search to see who reps your genres, and add them to your specific list of agents. For a paid membership (I think it's $25 a year), you can keep track of more than one manuscript. But if you're just starting with one, the free one will work just fine for you.

    I usually keep three windows open when querying:

    1. The querytracker window set to the particular agent you're querying (once you have a letter template set up, you can copy and paste each agent's info into the addressee spot). Make the letter a professional business letter format, then copy it into each e-mail you send. You may have to tweak the formatting a bit once you've pasted it.

    2. Your e-mail, open for copying/pasting a query letter, synopsis, first couple of pages...whatever is called for...

    3. The agency's website (which you can usually click on from the querytracker page for that agency). This will provide you exact instructions on what the agency wants with your query letter.

    Some agents do not accept e-queries, so you will need to print off a letter and mail them a hard copy of it, a synopsis, sample pages (again, whatever that specific agency requires...), and a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you want a reply, do NOT forget the SASE. Some agents won't reply without one.

    FYI--I've been searching for an agent over the course of two manuscripts for almost three years. I've had a few requests for partial or full manuscripts, but in the end, it's been all rejections. Prepare yourself for it and develop a very thick skin, as it's a brutal process, and your self esteem can really suffer if you're not ready for it.

    The harsh truth is that you may never get one, and you have to prepare yourself for that. But if you do, congratulations!

  2. Hey Melodie,

    Laini's given you some great tips, so I won't repeat them.

    If you go here you'll find some starting point for writing a query, finding an agent, etc.

    I've had friends who found their agent in months and some who looked for 10+ years before getting theirs. Getting an agent, to some extent, is beyond your control as it's a matter of timing/industry wants, etc. Instead of setting a goal of "finding an agent" may I suggest your goal could be something like "query 15 agents." That's something that's within your control to accomplish.

    Also, I would definitely suggest you do some MEGA research. The industry is changing very quickly and you may find you don't need an agent. Certainly with many of the small/medium-sized publishers you don't need one. And (so far as I know) Canadian publishers don't require you to have one, either, so be away of that.

    An agent can help with contract negotiations (but so can an entertainment lawyer, who'll do it for a flat fee and not royalties) but an agent can also help your book find a home.

    Really, really, my big tip is research. As my of my agented friends will attest, having a bad agent is worse than having no agent at all.

    1. I can't remember, but do you have an agent or did you just send manuscripts to publishers until someone understood how wonderful your stories are?

    2. I sent my story around...and around...and around...and--well, you get the idea.

      Sometimes, being a writer is more Tesla than Edison: you just keep going because all you need is one 'yes.' :D

  3. love the reference to tesla. had a huge discussion/rant with my family about that.

  4. love the reference to tesla. had a huge discussion/rant with my family about that.


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