Friday, 14 August 2009

Looking for a literary agent

I've been answering a lot of the same questions lately from aspiring writers wanting to know how to find an agent. Finding I'm not much of an expert on, but I can help with the looking part.

To start building a list of agents, two really great resources are AgentQuery and QueryTracker. Both are searchable databases, enabling you to find out quickly who represents what.

QueryTracker, as you might guess from the name, also allows you to make up a personalized list and keep track of the status of your query. The data from all users are compiled to provide statistics on how quickly agents reply, how often they request material, and so on.

After making a tentative list, you should research each agent individually. Check their agency websites and make sure they represent the kind of book you've written, who their clients are, what they've sold. This information is usually, although not always, more up-to-date than other sources.

Check to see if they're a member of the Association of Authors' Representatives. This isn't essential, but members adhere to a set of ethical guidelines and have a record of sales, so it is generally a good sign.

And scurry over to Preditors and Editors (yes, the misspelling is intentional - think about it) to find out if the agent you covet is known as a scam artist. They're classified alphabetically by first names, in case you're having trouble finding your way around.

If you're looking to get a Christian book published, Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson has posted a very useful list of agents they have dealt with.

Last but not least, head over to the Absolute Write forums and check out the Bewares and Background Check section to get additional information on specific agents and agencies. You'll get lots of useful information, including comments from writers who have dealt with them.

You can also find out some pretty incredible information by Googling. Like which agent is a belly dancer, who writes about jazz as a hobby, and who they hang out with on MySpace.

Have fun looking, and feel free to add your favourite resources or ask questions in the comment section.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

I'm baaack

OK, so nobody knew I was gone. Fair enough.

I spent Friday at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers' Conference, which was a first for me. Saturday, as predicted, I crashed. Not surprising, seeing as I attended two panel discussions, skipped a third in favour of a serendipitous encounter, attended a two-hour "boot camp" with editor Shannon Marchese, two teaching sessions with Jeff Gerke, and of course, two meals and various hobnobbing sessions. A lot for someone with fatigue issues.

I'd never been to a writers' conference before and I'm still absorbing it. And I'm wondering if it was a good use of my time.

The panels were so-so. The questions posed to the editors were very basic, things the participants should have known if they'd done any research. Google is your friend, people.

On the other hand, Jeff Gerke's continuing session on advanced fiction writing was great. Really. He's a good teacher and makes things very clear. I'm working my way through his The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction right now. The boot camp with editor Shannon Marchese was also very interesting, if somewhat less organized. I took a lot of notes, so I'll be able to review that one.

What conferences are about more than anything, of course, is networking. It was nice to meet in the flesh people I'd only known online, even if the meeting was all too brief. I also met new people, several of whom were insanely nice. You know, the kind of people you don't feel you deserve to meet, they're so nice. Three in one day has to be some kind of record.

As for concrete results, that remains to be seen. I don't need them to consider the conference a success though.

Anybody want to share with me what kind of benefits (or not) you've reaped from conferences?

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