More and more agents are blogging. Setting up a lawn chair and camping out at their sites is THE best way to get a picture of who they are, what they represent, and what their submission guidelines are.
Once we've studied agent blogs, educated ourselves about the submission process, and narrowed down the list of who to query, then we're ready to toss our letter and sample chapters into the pond and wait for a bite.
But as anyone who's ever fished knows, sometimes the fish just aren't biting. In today's tight economy and flooded writer's market, agents don't seem to be biting. They might be nibbling, but often we dangle our line into the murky depths and wait. Endlessly.
Even though agents might not seem to be biting, they are. I recently hooked an agent. And if I can get one, then certainly there's hope for all of us, especially if we look for ways to increase our chances of getting a bite. So, here are a few things that worked for me.
5 Tips for Hooking an Agent:
1. Don't send out a book unless it's been critiqued, preferably by another writer who's further along in the writing journey. Editors and published authors are ideal. Critique partners are helpful, but not always able to provide critical feedback due to lack of honesty or skill. The bottom line is that we MUST have EXCELLENT writing skills and we often can't see our own work objectively enough to know if it's truly excellent. When we're getting consistent positive feedback from qualified sources, then maybe, just maybe we're ready to send it out.
2. Have two books polished and ready to sell. While one book might be enough to showcase our story-telling ability, two books are even better. I first queried one book to Rachelle, but after I had two professionally critiqued, well-written manuscripts, Rachelle seemed to take a greater interest in my writing.
3. Take advantage of contest wins, awards, or national recognition. Many of us are entering writing contests (if you're not, why not?). After I finaled in the Genesis contest, I decided I had the perfect opportunity to follow-up with Rachelle who still had my manuscript. If she wasn't interested, then while I was in the spotlight I needed to get my name in front of other agents familiar with the contest. Thankfully, she was interested.
4. Network among the writing community. Building a web presence is critical. For a previous post on this topic, click here. Another of Rachelle's clients, Billy Coffey, was rejected by Rachelle at least once. Through blogging, he became friends with a client of Rachelle's who liked his writing. That client talked to Rachelle who then agreed to read his manuscript and subsequently offered him representation. Conferences, blogs, twitter, facebook--if used correctly, they can help make connections and put our names in front of agents.
5. Don't get discouraged and give up. My manuscript sat in Rachelle's slush pile for months. I followed up periodically. But as I waited, I wrote the next book, entered contests, and worked on improving my writing. If we're getting continuous rejections on one book, then we need to put it aside, write the next one, and do even better. If we keep on improving, we can't go wrong with that.
These are just a few tips based on my experience. Do you have any other helpful ideas to add to the list? What has discouraged you most in your attempts to hook an agent?