It’s been said that getting an agent is like getting a bank loan: you can only get one if you can prove that you don’t need it. But agents want and need to find new writers. Here are four simple steps to getting the agent you need:
1. The only time to contact agents is when your network of knowledgeable readers assures you that you have something ready to sell. So keep revising the manuscript for your novel or the proposal for a nonfiction book until it’s as close to perfect as you can make it.
2. Research agents online and off through directories, blogs, websites, social media, and directories. Follow their submission guidelines. Write an irresistible, personalized, one-page query letter about the why, what, and who of your book: the hook, the book, and the cook. Contact as many agents as you wish simultaneously, but mention that you’re doing it.
3. If you’re mailing your work, and you don’t want the material back, include a stamped-self-addressed #10 business envelope to be sure to get a response. If you don’t, you may lose the chance to get feedback and assume you will only hear back if an agent is interested.
4. Look at the challenge of finding an agent as arranging a working marriage that has personal and professional aspects to it. You want an agent you’ll enjoy working with, and who can and wants to do the job. Meet interested agents to test the chemistry for your relationship.Choose the best agent for you, based on passion, personality, performance, and experience.
Finding an agent (or publisher) is like hitchhiking. If you’re out there on the road long enough, someone will stop for you. Just learn what you can to increase the chances that you’ll rnjoy the ride. Then celebrate finding an agent who has the taste and intelligence to loan you the time it takes to help you make your book ready to market and sell it. It’s taken our agency as little as four phone calls and as long as ten years to sell a book, but it’s one loan you don’t have to repay. Happy hunting!
17 agents will take pitches at “Speed Dating for Agents” at the Eighth San Francisco Writers Conference / President’s Day Weekend, February 18-20, 2011 / Mark Hopkins InterContinental Hotel on Nob Hill / Keynoters: Dorothy Allison & David Morrell / Pitch your book to agents and editors / Free feedback on your work / www.sfwriters.org / email@example.com / blog: http://sfwriters.org/blog / Open to anyone: a day of in-depth classes on Monday, February 21 / Free MP3s at www.sfwriters.info / New! San Francisco Writers University: Where Writers Meet and You Learn / Laurie McLean, Dean / www.sfwritersu.com