Pairing up with an agent is at the very top of the to-do list for any aspiring authors looking to take their career to the next level. Whether it’s always been your dream to publish a book or to sell a manuscript to a TV or movie producer, getting your work in the hands of an agent can help propel you to toward your goal.
Yet even the idea of connecting with an agent often feels like something that’s very far out of reach. Many in the writing community wonder how they can find an agent. The answer, most of the time, is by simply reaching out. You could perhaps do that in person, at book events or conferences, writing workshops, or agent showcases. But most of the time, the initial outreach is done by sending an email to your ideal agent that introduces yourself and your work and sometimes includes a sample of the book.
While the process of finding an agent can take months, even years, it’s one that is usually ongoing and requires lots of follow-ups, edits on your submitted work, and persistence, since “not giving up” is the true secret behind scoring a publishing deal.
Our free guide to finding an agent is designed to make the querying process much easier for writers.
If you find yourself ready and eager to begin your agent search, here are 10 questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you get started on the process.
1. How seriously am I taking my writing career?
One of the very first things an agent will care about is how committed you are to your writing career. If you’ve only spent a few days or weeks penning an idea for a book or writing a paragraph or two, they may ask you to connect with them when you have more writing experience, a fleshed-out structure, or the full book written. Have an honest conversation with yourself about your writing. Are you just starting out? Should you perhaps pound the paper a little harder before seeking publication? Have you ever taken classes or joined a writing group, or have you been writing for years and feel as though you are ready to work with a publisher on sculpting your manuscript? If you worry your manuscript or your skillset isn’t quite there yet, it may not be time to seek an agent immediately. When an agent first sees your manuscript, you want it to be your best possible work.
2. What’s my writing career goal?
Is your goal to write one book and then move on to something else, or are you looking to write a series of books – or even potentially dabble in different genres? You should know what kind of goal you have in mind for your writing so that when you begin chatting with agents, you can make them aware of what expectations you have for yourself in the writing world and see if they stand behind that, have advice for you, or even can help push you in the right direction, based on your strengths and the genres you like the most.
3. Have I tried getting published anywhere?
What does your writing resume look like? Do you have a blog that you’ve been writing posts on for years? Have you written for any magazines or other publications before? Have any of your stories or chapters from your book been published in literary magazines? If so, put together a portfolio and a writing resume that you can present your agent. This allows them to see that other editors have shown interest in your writing and you have attracted an audience of people who are familiar with your work.