Taking the next step

BiaAtlas book update.

I have decided to start querying agents. I worked on my Synopsis and Query letter and got them to a decent quality. My manuscript is still too high on word count, however I decided to go ahead even though the revision is unfinished. I have indicated in the query that the word count will be brought down.

This is believe it or not, very nerve wracking. Once submitted it is a 2-8 week waiting period to either hear back that they are interested… nor not. And the not is usually nothing.

Here is what I’ve learned so far about Literary agents and the query process.

Types:

Independent or small firms (1-5 people)
Boutique (focus on small scale, lots of attention 1-5 people sometimes more)
Larger outfits (6-25 people I haven’t seen higher than 25 yet)

They all have their benefits and drawbacks. This is where research comes in.

Within these there are senior and junior agents. Seniors have published books under their belts, juniors may have one or two.  While the seniors have more experience they are targeted more frequently and therefore have more applications at one time. Juniors have less experience but are highly motivated to prove themselves and build client lists. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Each agent will have a bio and a list of books they are working on and or have published. Each agent has a list of what they are looking for in Genra and style. This is important. I wont query an agent if I don’t like or resonate with who they are and the work they do. It is silly to query an agent that doesn’t represent your Genre. That being said I look for agents that have a strong like for New Adult Science Fiction. That’s my primary Genre.

 

The process.

Choosing an agent is somewhat personal. They should all be AAR accredited. Association of Authors Representatives. This is important and excludes the ones that might not be legit.

Each agent has their own submission requirements and not all are open for queries. Every agency has their own rules. Sometimes they are the same and sometimes they are different. Read carefully.  If they ask for 10 pages double spaced and you give them 15 they will notice. If they ask for no attachments and you attach a pdf of your synopsis they will disregard it. If they ask you to cut and paste into the body of the email do that. So far the standard rule is only one query can be submitted to on agency at a time. So if you query Joe, you cant query Jane, Jill or Jack from the same company until your query expires. Each agency has different times on this too. If you break this rule they say right on their site in the submissions guidelines that your queries will be disregarded.

It is important to get a feel for the Agent/agency and personalize the opening paragraph of the query. NONE and I mean NONE of them like gimmicks or over familiarity. Keep it formal and professional. Treat it like a job application only more important. That being said dry and stuffy doesn’t work either. Find a fine balance of your personality and professionalism. They are after all interested in you AND your work.

I have made a spread sheet keeping track of the day I submit, name of agent if available, email, method, website and their specific timeline(this varies greatly) This is handy for those that say they will respond to verify receipt of query. Again read carefully.

It is quite the process, strict and linear. They receive hundreds of queries a day so they have to be.

The industry standard is 15% commission. That sounds like a lot. But when you look at all they do it is worth it. I have discussed this in the not so direct path to publishing.

My advice about Querying Literary Agents.
Do your research, read carefully and make sure they are the right agent.
I will probably talk more about the process in further detail as I query more this week. There is a lot to talk about.

-Sheryl

Related posts

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

The first 50 pages.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

The “word count” down.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Unfinished

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10 thoughts on “Taking the next step

  1. Incredibly helpful. I tried years ago to publish a book, it ended up costing me $150.00 to send my good old mail. Much easier these days I expect. I went the inde route instead and at this point, am hoping it is a good plan. Appreciate all of your input though and definitely worth considering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Going through a literary agent is a lot, and I mean a lot of work but man, it is so worth it. Some still want hard copies but only the first 50 pages. Most want electronic submissions, which is very convenient. 🙂

      Like

    1. Yes at this point it is a numbers game. Get it out to as many appropriate Agents that you feel will represent you well and hope one or two will bite. They get hundreds and thousands of queries they call it a “Slush pile” I sought professional help and advice to get my query letter, synopsis and first 50 pages up to snuff. However every agency I have looked at so far is strict about only querying one agent at a time which means you have to wait their set expiry time before trying for an other if they are not interested. In my search there have been several agencies I have passed on either because I don’t think any of the agents are a good potential fit or I don’t see any books in their list that they have helped to publish that resonate with me(Or I don’t recognize any). It is amazing how each agency has different rules and requirements, and then within that each agent has their own set of rules.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It sounds beyond confusing. Kind of like gambling in Vegas, there are rules but they may change depending on who the game person is at that station. OK, I’m not a gambling person, but it still makes me think about Vegas.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks,

      It is really fascinating, I’m coming across agents that have represented some of my favorite books. I am of course querying them if they are accepting from my Genre of course. Why not right?

      Liked by 1 person

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