Katrina already wrote an amazing post on
cyber-stalking researching agents. Read it, then come back.
Read it already? Good.
Now that you know how and where to research literary agents, it's time to dive into what comes after--compiling a list of your favorites. *fist pump*
Folks, I give you the Agent Wish List.
I've settled on a few things that will help you figure out which agents should be at the top of your querying list. Today, I'm going to share them with you :)
1) What they represent
Genres are where it begins and where it ends, folks. You don't want to pitch your picture book to an agent who's sold crime thrillers--unless that agent reps both genres. This is the first thing you should be looking for, mainly because by querying someone with something they don't love, you're guaranteeing yourself a rejection. And nobody likes those.
2) What they're dying to find right now
I mentioned genre being the most important thing to consider, right? Well, for your Agent Wish List, you should also search for what those agents are actively seeking the moment you're about to start querying. Why? Let's say you completed Step One and found an agent who reps MG fantasy, which is the genre your manuscript falls into. Sweet! But what if you stumbled upon an interview with that agent and he/she said they're sick of dragons? And your manuscript is about a country boy who wakes up one fine morning and learns he must save the last... dragon? Yep. Back to the drawing board.
This step guarantees two things: a) you can personalize your query and let the agents know you've taken the time to get to know their specific tastes, not just what they represent; b) you're querying someone who will most likely request your sample pages. Double win.
3) New agents AND old agents at the same time
It's normal to want to query agents who rep your favorite authors, especially if those authors are NYT Bestsellers or Printz award winners. Older, more experienced agents may have a great sales track record and a bunch of amazing clients, but you can't leave new agents in the dust. Most of the time, those are the ones hungriest for submissions. They'll be more inclined to offer specific feedback on your query/partial/full. Their response times might be a little faster.
My advice? Balance it out. Create an Agent Wish List with the same amount of new and old agents. Like, if your Wish List has eight agents, four should be new, four should be older.
4) Online presence
For the purposes of this post, online presence should not be confused with blogging or Tweeting--it's about finding what you can about agents, and seeing whether you two would be a good fit. Sometimes non-blogging/Tweeting agents do a bazillion interviews instead, or even just one. Sometimes they participate in workshops and writers who attend later blog about their experiences (what they learned, how they think it'll help them improve, etc.). Sometimes the agents' clients will rave about their editorial skills, or how much they believe in their manuscripts. And sometimes those agents do guest posts on writing/industry blogs. The point? Don't think Blogger/Wordpress/Twitter are all the options you have! There are other ways for you to get know agents and their tastes, so make sure you go all out and don't shun those who steer clear of the obvious social media outlets.
So there you have it, folks. My tips on crafting your Agent Wish List. Hope it helps!!
Now tell me: is there anything else you take into consideration? Let me know so I can add it to the list!