8. Have I researched this agent’s previous work?
When you’re selecting which agents you want to reach out to, a great first step is researching different agencies and finding out which agents have represented similar authors or bodies of work in the past. Look for individuals who have had success selling similar books to yours and narrow down your list of potential agents based on the genre they have the most experience with. Another great way of finding the right agents to pitch is to look for details, whether on the agency website or on public social media profiles, on the genres in which they are actively taking submissions. Some agents will use the hashtag #MSWL, which stands for “manuscript wish list,” sharing the details about the types of books they are looking for at that given time. Be sure to do your due diligence before reaching out to agents so you can make sure you target the people interested in your book’s topic and not wasting your time with agents who don’t specialize in your genre.
Our free guide to finding an agent is designed to make the querying process much easier for writers.
9. Have I thought through my ask?
After you get a good idea of the list of agents you want to query, take some time to figure out exactly what your email will say. What are you going to ask these agents without overwhelming them, giving them too much information, or being too pushy right off the bat?
While individual agencies will indicate querying preferences that you’ll need to follow on their websites, there are five essential things that you want to include in that initial query letter. In no particular order, they are:
Book information: Include genre, word count, title, and subtitle.
Your author bio: Let them know your writing background, where you have been published, etc.
Personalization: How can you connect your book to other work the agent has sold in the past?
Hook: A brief description of the book and why it will be an unforgettable read.
Thank you and closing: End the email with your contact information and a sign of appreciation to the agent for their consideration of you and your work.
10. How will I handle potential rejection?
It’s important to note that sometimes getting a response from an agent can take a good amount of time. Sometimes you might not get any response back at all. Heading into the pitching process, keep an open mind and remember that it can take several emails, many iterations of your book, and a lot of time to hear anything back. You could even consider making a deal with yourself that if a certain number of months or years pass without you finding an agent who fits your writing style and genre, you will go down the self-publishing route. Either way, if you truly commit to getting your book published, buckle up: It can be a long ride that will have you coming face-to-face with rejection all along the way. Just promise yourself – and your manuscript – that no matter what happens, no matter if you get a yes or a thousand no’s, that you won’t give up until that book is on a shelf – or available on e-readers, because that certainly counts, too.
Jen Glantz is the host of the You’re Not Getting Any Younger podcast, founder of the viral business Bridesmaid for Hire, the creator of the blog The Things I Learned From, and the author of the Amazon best-selling book All My Friends are Engaged. Her new book, Always a Bridesmaid For Hire, published by Simon & Schuster, is available now. Jen is a freelance writer for more than 25 different publications, including Today.com, Glamour magazine, Prevention magazine, BRIDES magazine, and Bumble (the dating app). She teaches creative nonfiction and memoir writing at Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City.