So you’ve finished your novel, and now you’re trying to decide which agents to send it to. Choosing an agent can be really tough, but the time you put into the search will be well worth it when you finally get an agent that’s right for you. Here’s a few things to think about when starting your search.
Your favourite reads
Most of us tend to read what we write, so for example if you write horror you’re likely to read Stephen King’s work. This is great for you, because it probably means you know whose work yours is similar to. Write a list of these authors, then research which agent represents them. Chances are, if an agent likes Stephen King’s work, they’ll like yours too.
Do you want to be the next J K Rowling, known worldwide for your success? Or are you more bothered about making an impact in a more focussed publishing community, such as LGBTQ or women’s publishing? Whichever you’re looking for, you need to find an agent that understands your passion and goals. It’s also a lot more helpful to you if they have experience in whichever publishing route you want to go down.
One agent doesn’t represent every genre. Most of the time they have 1-5 specialist areas or genres that they work hard on to get published. Make sure you choose an agent that specialises in your genre. There’s no point in going to a crime writing agent if you’re a romance novelist. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Decide what your genre is before you go looking for an agent to make sure you find the right one.
If you’ve gone to see an agent give a talk or if you’ve had a natter with them at a book festival, they’re much more likely to take you on than an agent who you have no connection with. So always look at agents you’ve met in some way. Not only will the fact you’ve heard them talk be a great talking point for your cover letter, it will also prove to them that you really are dedicated to getting published.
It doesn’t have to be a niche as such, but you do need something that makes you special. For example, your book may be set in a specific city. If this is the case, check out local agents and publishers as they are more likely to take on your book than others. It’s hard finding something in your work that stands out from everything else in your genre, but there will be something, and that’s what you need to sell yourself on.
Once you’ve decided on all of these things, start searching for your agent. We recommend picking 5 to start with and applying to all of them. This way, if you get accepted by more than one agent, you can go for the one you feel has more to offer. Don’t apply until you’ve finished writing and editing your novel; you don’t want them to ask you for an extract and be unable to give them your best work.
We’d love to know what genre of fiction (or poetry!) our followers write. Share your specialism in the comments below so we can start to tailor our posts to you.