Querying Agents: Wait!

When is the best time to send out your agent queries?  In truth, I was just getting ready to send a few out.  Getting ready can take a while and that’s a good thing.  Wednesday I was reading the November 2017 Nelson Literary Agency Newsletter.  Kristin Nelson recommends waiting until January 2, 2018.  Why?  Because agents are clearing out their in-boxes.  Don’t worry!  Whether you are approaching an agent with a picture book or a young adult novel, this means that you have almost 2 months to do your homework.

  1.  Check out the listings on Manuscript Wish List, #MSWL tweets and agency submissions information.  This first step just involves finding people who might be a good match.
  2. Google their names.  Read every interview you can find.  Look for the names of books they love.  Look for the titles of books they’ve sold.  Keep an eye open for the things they are passionate about.
  3. Start requesting some of these books.
  4. Read, read and read!  Don’t just request the books.  Read them.  This is vital because you need to know that an agent who is looking for quirky middle grade humor will find your humor quirky vs frightening.
  5. Keep track of what makes this agent a good fit.  This list will fluctuate as you do more reading and find more information.  Agents will move up the list and down.  But that’s okay.  You really do want to submit to someone whose an excellent match.

Whether you go with a new agent or an established agent is a matter of personal choice.  There are pluses to submitting to a new agent.

  • New agents need to build a client list.  They need to find new clients.
  • New agents are often the ones granting interviews and going to conferences because of #1.  This means that it is easier to find out about them — whether they are editorial agents, what they like, etc.
  • New agents don’t have as many estaliblished clients taking up all their time.

An established agent has a client list and can be pickier about what new work they sign, but there are also pluses to established agents.

  • Established agents have more contacts.  They can get your manuscript read by editor you can’t approach.
  • They have a track record.  A google search will show you what an established agent has sold and often find comments (hopefully praise) from their authors.

Fortunately you’ve got some time.


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