Research: Finding a Literary Agent (the sequel)

February 20, 2008 at 11:31 am | Posted in agents/ editors, Bria, career, writing | 3 Comments

Jessica did an amazing job of of telling us where to get the information and how to use it. But for me, I need a little more.

I’m very visual – I need a logical way to look at information or it might as well be street graffiti. At first everyone laughed at me, but now they’ve started asking for Bria Agent Search Spreadsheets for themselves (maybe I should start charging!)

I won’t lie. It is time consuming in the front-end. But later, when the querying begins, it will keep you on track and organized as well as stopping your focus from drifting to time wasting (and embarrassing) querying of agents who don’t rep what you write.

So, breaking this down in very easy steps, here we go:

Step 1 – Decide what you write.

My main passion and focus is YA Fantasy, but I also have ideas for a RomCom and a historical (which may be YA, Women’s Lit, or Romance – depending on who you ask) so my focus groups are: Fantasy, YA, Romance, and ChickLit. You’ll have your own, but we’ll stick with mine for these examples

Step 2 – Create an Excel Spreadsheet

This is very easy if you’ve never done it before.Open it up and then save it as “Agent Search.”

Across the top create a column for each of the following:Agent Name, Agency, Solicit?, Email, YA, Fantasy, Rom, ChLit, RWA, P&E, Exp, TOTAL, Authors, Notes

Step 3 – Link to:

From the list below, choose all your writing genres and search

Step 4 – List creationThis is the longest part. Cut and paste each page into your spreadsheet and then line up the information with columns. Put an “1” under each genre the agent reps. You may want to consider weighting one genre heavier than others – for example, my future agent MUST rep YA, so that column gets a “2” instead of a “1.”

Step 5 – The remaining columns weighted columns

So you may have notice that you still have RWA, P&E, Exp, and TOTAL, left.
RWA (Romance Writers of America)
is a very reputable group. Whether you write romance or not, you should consider joining. The group is highly focused on Craft and many agents have said they can often tell a person is an RWA member from their clean manuscript.

If the agency/agent is RWA certified, add another “1”

P&E (Preditors and Editors) as another amazing resource. They list everyone in the industry they’re aware of. If they give an agency/agent a “highly recommends” add a “2” – a “recommends” add a “1” —— they’ll also let you know if they “highly don’t recommend (“-2”), “don’t recommend” (“-1”), or if they are listed on “Writer Beware” (“-3”)

Exp stands for “Experience.” Jessica is my go-to girl on this. Industry answers roll off her tongue and she does a run by rating for me. Also, I look at blogs, talk to other writers, read articles. One of my top 10 agents was bumped off my list completely because of her attitude toward her clients and potential clients on her blog. You want to know this ahead of time. Use the same rating system as P&E.

TOTAL – create a sum total column for each row and then sort by the TOTAL column.

The last two columns are just as important. You should always be familiar with the authors an agent already reps. It lets you know what they like and where they succeed. Also, it allows you to ‘sell’ yourself better (see Jessica’s blog HERE.)

The Notes column should be for things like industry updates, reminders about appearances (online and in person) you’d like to attend, site updates (agents sometimes stop taking queries for a short time), contests they’re judging, etc.

All this information comes together on one page to let you judge and weigh the agents to see if they’re a potential fit. Make sure you check out Jessica’s blog to get a bigger picture of the whole search.

This is a great step in running your writing career as just that – a CAREER.

As always – if you have questions or comments we’d love to hear them. Start planning your career and then Go Write!-bria



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  1. The BASS looks like an awesome tool. I haven’t dug into it too deeply, but for narrowing down where you want to be targeting, it looks amazing! Thanks, Bria for the fuller explanation here I can reference later.

  2. Thanks Kaige – Searching for an agent (or editor) is such a huge part of a writing career! I wish it was discussed more.

  3. […] Check out Bria’s take on organizing your search HERE.  […]

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