Querying agents is daunting, exciting, difficult, wonderful…there are so many ways to feel during the process. Each submission is different (or at least it should be), because each agent is different.
One thing that should be consistent is your research. You’re looking for the best person to represent your novel, all your hard work. It’s not a choice to be made lightly. Doing your research helps you find agents that you’d love to represent you, but also agents who you truly think would enjoy your work. If you send your manuscript out to anybody and everybody you waste your time, and their time too.
There are several ways to find out more about agents and their interests, to help you find a perfect match for your work.
1. Read their website bio
The main things an agent wants you to know will likely be on their website. Each agent tends to have a bio detailing their interests, ideal genres and preferences. It’ll also likely tell you the genres/styles they specifically don’t want to represent, which is just as important to check. And, perhaps most importantly of all, it’ll tell you if they are currently open to submissions or not.
2. Check the authors they represent
Again, this will likely be on their website, either in their personal bio or on a separate ‘authors’ page. If every writer on their list is a fantasy author, and you’re pushing a modern crime thriller, it may be fair to assume you aren’t what they’re after. Find out if they represent a market that’d suit your own book. Do they represent fiction, non-fiction or both? Commercial fiction, literary fiction or both?
3. See if they’re on social media
In this modern age many agents have a public social media, dedicated to their career. It can be a great way to find out if they’re looking for submissions, what books they’ve enjoyed, which authors they’ve recently discovered and loved. As their professional profile, it’ll detail insight into their day to day running, and help you to decide if they are right for you, and you for them.
4. Search for interviews
This one is my favourite. Many agents have given interviews to blogs, online magazines or even their own web pages. Read them all, new or old. It’s a fantastic way to find out their favourite novels/authors, interests and quirky preferences. It can really help you stand out and show you know your stuff in your cover letter if you can reference thins they’ve spoken about before.
5. Attend a talk, event or masterclass
Agents are likely to attend literary events. Be it festivals, workshops, masterclasses or talks. It can put you face to face, give you the opportunity to ask questions and offer insights you’d never have found anywhere else. I found out an agent I wanted to query too hated prologues, and hated spoilers in the synopsis, by attending an event. It’s so worth it for those tiny details into their personal preferences.
How do you research agents? I’d love to hear your tips and advice, so do jot them down in the comments below.