Reading time: Less than 1 minute
This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about where to look for a literary agent….
Readers ask me all the time for good tricks to finding a literary agent. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy!
Generally, I recommend finding a book in your genre and then looking in the acknowledgements section (where writers almost always thank their agent, by name). But I recently stumbled across a detailed post by Nathan Bransford containing a plethora of advice. It runs under the headline, “How to research a literary agent,” and it’s a good one.
Also, the photo he used to illustrate his post made me laugh. It’s Van Gogh’s painting “Haystacks.” Get it? Looking for a needle in a haystack….
A former agent, turned writer, Bransford offers lots of great tips and an important warning, too. There are some bad actors out there and it’s important for writers to be cautious. I share his recommendation that Writer Beware is a good site to consult to keep an eye on the bad guys. Know your rights as an author, Bransford warns.
Other helpful advice he offers:
- Be honest about your genre (and understand that you have one even if you don’t know it!)
- Supplement your literary agent research with databases like Publisher’s Marketplace
- Follow the literary agent’s submission requirements — they are there for a reason.
- Approach about seven agents at a time
- Personalize your approach
- Write a proper query letter
Oh, and by the way, be sure to download his helpful Google docs spreadsheet for tracking your queries. I know, I know. This is an awful lot of work. If you would prefer to self-publish that’s another entirely reasonable option. You can see my brief video about that option here.