If your goal is to be published by one of the major houses, you’ll need an agent. Writer’s Market lists agents on its website, and also publishes a Guide to Literary Agents. The Association of Authors’ Representatives, the main professional organization for agents, maintains a directory of its members. Check agent websites to ensure they’ve been in business for a while, and that they handle books in your topic area or genre. Approaching an agent who specializes in contemporary Amish romances with your bodice-ripping historical novel is Not Recommended.
The same way you would review resumes if you were hiring, or the way you would investigate companies if you were looking for a job, you must examine agents and publishers to find those that are the best fit for your topic area and personality. That’s one of the reasons conferences are a great way to find an agent.
Preditors and editors
Don’t be put off by the odd spelling of its name or that its design hasn’t been updated since its inception in 1997. The Preditors and editors website, pred-ed.com, is packed with information about agents, publishers, and producers. Look up a company there before deciding whether to do business with it. The site will let you check the reputation of any agents you’re considering.
Once you have a shortlist of editors you want to approach, you’ll need to arrange to meet with them at conferences or send query letters. Query letters are a difficult but necessary part of the writing business. Next week, we’ll talk about how to write and send them.
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