How to Find the Right Literary Agent

pexels-photo-165226-mediumHow to find The One.

If you have no clue about how to find the right agent, go on this journey with me to find the one…

I want to develop a career as an author, say, for the next 30 years, so I’ll want to take researching an agent seriously. It’s not as easy as buying a pair of new shoes or I’d have one already, but it’s not as involved as getting married –somewhere in between. And, with all relationships, there is a bit of risk involved, but there are also ways to narrow down the search to agents that seem like a good fit.

So. Where do I start? With agents that represent books I like and genres I write.

I read about them on query tracker and publishers market places, writers blogs, and interviews. I do the research. Make sure their agency is legit/established and operates with integrity. Find out if the agent has a good track record. Pubrants has great thoughts on this.

Go deeper. I reflect.

Each agent has a different style and way of doing things. Are they more editorial? How often do they communicate? I find out as much as I can, while asking: Is this agent right for me? My book? My career? What do their present clients say about them?

I cannot answer all of these questions, but I can get a general sense of who I like.

Find an agent you respect/admire, appreciate what they have to say, their values, their understanding of the industry, their clients. I once followed the rabbit trail of a very well known and successful agent, their interviews were witty, and obviously was a talented agent, but I later discovered their personal world to be crude and unprofessional. I was completely turned off. Personally, I wanted someone more professional, so I never queried them.

New writers, myself included, are often eager to find an agent to start their career, but I realize its ok to take time investing into what will be a long term career/relationship. The word on the street is that a great agent is often your greatest advocate, and friend in this very competitive world.

I really appreciated what Steven Malk (Literary agent with Writer’s house) said when he was asked in his interview with Literary Rambles if he had a story of the “one who got away” he says, “I really don’t, and I’ll explain why. Although this may sound a bit hokey (or maybe it fits right in with me being from California!), I try to be very philosophical about this business and I really do believe that books end up with certain agents for a reason.” I like that. And yes, I agree, there is a bit of destiny mixed in there. Read his whole response here.

In my own pursuit of an agent, I roughly know what I’m looking for: a well respected agent who is already established; a brave agent who could champion a new author, and who has enough experience that I can trust them and their opinions. Ones known for integrity gripped my attention, as well as agent who felt genuine, those who represented timeless books or books I loved, who had clean blogs.

I found those who fit and I began to query them.

So maybe Steven Malk is right, you do your part and destiny will do the rest.



Nova signing off from the middle of China



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