I’m on the hunt for a most dangerous game: Editors and Agents. My ammunition consists of query letters, two completed short stories, and one fine manuscript for a novel.
Once upon a time, I would conduct this hunt in a bookish way, purchasing the latest copies of Writer’s Market and Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. Both are good buys. However, I found that I was often doing double research on the web and I could find more up-to-date information from agent websites (like when they were accepting and the query format).
The books were great for finding lists of agents, but I had to painstakingly read through each and every one just to find the few that even accepted young adult or supernatural stories. At least with the web, I can do some targeted searches.
I know, from my agented friends, that the writer/agent relationship is a very personal one. I want to make it one that’s worth while. Perfect example, I was sending out a query letter by email to a certain agency only to find that the email was defunct. Even checking QueryTracker.net, I found the same broken email. I said, “Do I really want to work with an agent who can’t even successfully post their own email.” (On their website, they even said they preferred email queries).
What follows are my typical hunting grounds for the elusive agent or publisher.
This is my number one site. Period. It is simply brilliant. I find it funny that more blogs don’t list Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre’s wonderful website. Yes, it specializes in Young Adult (YA), Middle Grade (MG), and Picture Book (PB) agents, but its information is dead on target. They scour the web, pulling quotes from interviews to give you a snapshot of what the agent wants. They detail the query preferences. Finally, they top it off with all the relevant links and recent sales.
The site doesn’t organize agents A to Z style. Instead they give a complete profile on each agent as a blog post. You can search the site for agent you might have found elsewhere, or simple look at agents in your age range. What I like most about Literary Rambles is that it will list some newer agents even before the agency has them up on the website.
Working Backward from Authors
Here’s the old fashioned way. Find an author you like. Then figure out who the agent is. I can’t imagine how this was accomplished before Google. Now, I simple type in the author’s name and the phrase “literary agent” and usually the answer pops up. This is how I found Kristin Nelson, agent for Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series.
But an agent is not the end all, be all goal of my search. I’m also looking at independent publishers. The big NY publishers won’t touch you without an agent, but some of the smaller ones will. I realized, after looking at Christine Rose’s excellent blog, that most publishers (big or small) will only publish your book. The marketing is almost entirely up to you. So sometimes a small, more personal, publisher might make sense.
Preditors and Editors
This is the classic site everyone recommends. That’s because it’s so comprehensive. It has a listing of nearly all the agents and publishers. The best part, it warns you about those to avoid.
This site I found years ago and it rocks. It is centered on SciFi, Fantasy and Horror, but you can find hundreds of listings for publishers not found anywhere else. Also their listings for magazines are beyond brilliant. They break the list into pay scales: Pro, Semi-Pro, Token, Exposure, and Anthology. Just like Preditors and Editors Ralan will vet the magazine markets for you. If you write any genre short stories, then this is the site for you.
Amazon Kindle Singles
This is a new idea for me. I have a short story I’d like to try out on the ebook market. I had tried Amazon Shorts a while back, but that was before I knew anything about self promotion. Plus, the Amazon Shorts was only available in some clumsy digital format before the dawn of Kindle and ebooks. I have yet to try it out, but the process seems similar to submitting to a magazine. You send in your story and the editors will get back to you in two weeks. I suspect, much like Amazon Shorts, that the editors are simply looking for the bare minimum on the writing scale.
Now you are armed with the information needed to stalk your quarry: be it agents, publishers, or magazine editors. Good hunting. Just remember the infamous words of Bob Rainsford from The Most Dangerous Game This world’s divided into two kinds of people: the hunter and the hunted.
Right now you’re the hunter. What you yearn to be, is hunted (by readers, that is).