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Welcome to the Bookshelf Detective, a site for readers and writers of children's literature. Thank you for visiting, and please let me know how this blog served you.
Cheers,
Kim Tomsic

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How to Find a Literary Agent by Kim Tomsic

Would you like to find that perfect literary agent for your project?  Please don't use glitter and rainbows to get their attention.

Go the professional route. Start by researching reputable sources like The Guide to Literary Agents . Your goal is to search the pages and find an agent that fits the type of book you are writing. In the GLA, you will find a wealth of useful information including: agents name and email address; information about the agency for which they work; the agent's client list; their website/blogsite; if they're a member of various associations (i.e. SCBWI); how the agent prefers to receive submissions (snail mail or email/ query and first five pages/query only/attachments or no attachments/ etc.) and (**vitally important**) the type of projects the individual agent prefers (i.e. Middle Grade or YA or Picture Book, etc.)

Once you find agent who you believe would be a great advocate for your project, you begin by writing that agent a query letter asking for representation. Remember, it's crucial that your research was precise and you learned about the agent prior to submitting. If your project is a cookbook, you shouldn't send a query letter asking for representation to an agent who looks for dystopian YA material. All your research should be complete prior to writing that query. Your query letter is your first impression and agents want to deal with smart and informed people. They want to know that you’ve selected them for a specific reason vs. throwing darts. You can be sure that if your query reads like you’ve queried them and every agent on the planet, they won't waste their time with a further look.

Craft your winning query letter by telling the agent:

1. Why you chose to query them (a simple one line sentence);
2. The logline, working title, genre, and word count of your manuscript;
3. A one paragraph synopsis about your manuscript;
4. What's out there similar to your manuscript (so they can decide if it's a money maker);
5. If you've been previously published;
6. Your education, or special credits;
7. A courteous closing and how to contact you.
Paragraph breakdown: paragraph one includes points one and two. Paragraph two includes point three. Paragraph three the rest.

Don’t tell the agent that your mom, sister, classroom, and priest LOVED your book.
Don’t call your manuscript a fiction novel (that’s like calling it a story story or a book story).
Don’t submit to multiple agents within the same agency.
Don’t pack an envelope and mail a query to a green office that only accepts email submissions.
Don’t add attachments unless the agent says they prefer submissions that way.
Don’t have your email filtered to their trash by adding attachments, submitting to multiple addressees, or by adding special stationary and do-dads to your email…these gadgets often land your masterpiece in SPAM and the agent never has the opportunity to sees your work.
Don’t address your letter Dear Agent…they need to know you’ve selected them.
Don’t add glitter and rainbows to your submission; be professional and let your writing do the talking.

For a peek at successful queries that became books, visit: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Successful+Queries+Agent+Dan+Lazar+And+The+Bells.aspx

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/CategoryView,category,SuccessfulQueries.aspx

More on query letters:

http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/844651-How-to-Write-a-Query-Letter

http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/02/writing-loglinethe-one-sentence-pitch.html

For more information on writing query letters, I think Nathan Bransford's award winning blog is excellent (by the way, he just left Curtis Brown, so don't query him).

p.s. Make sure you check out predators and editors to avoid disreputable agents.
p.s. (again!) Visit the blog:  Guide to Literary Agents and author Chuck Sambuchino.
By the way, Chuck is not only the author of the popular blog mentioned above, he is also the author of a new and hilarious book:  How To Survive a Garden Gnome Attack.

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