Using Technology to Research Agents (Editors)
By Sue Ford
Since we can’t all go hear or meet the agents and editors we’d like to submit to, using the internet is the next best thing. Here are some of my favorite resources.
First, let’s start with Manuscript Wish List – https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/. It’s a collection of what agents and editors are looking for (their wish list) and often has more information than an agency or publisher website. Some editors and agents share what books are their favorites. Others may have a link to their website. All either tell you where to go for their submission guidelines or list them directly on the site. Often, they share their twitter handle or other social media. I like the fact that MSWL is searchable by name, category, genre, and keywords. For example, if I’m looking for agents who do YA, I can search for that. There’s also a blog you may subscribe to which offers info about new agents or editors, and shares links to interviews, plus special events including critique options.
Second, is the “Writing and Illustrating” blog, https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/, put together by Kathy Temean, a former SCBWI Regional Advisor. This is a valuable resource for both writers and illustrators. Kathy usually features one agent a month with two- or three-part interviews. This also includes first page submission opportunities to that agent. But if you participate, follow the rules very carefully or your entry will be disqualified. This blog also provides a place for illustrators to share art (Saturdays) and some critiques. You can find out about contests, and other industry news, too. Published authors and illustrators offer up a book for a giveaway and get interviewed about the process of their book—that can be enlightening and is always providing me with more reading material. You can read the blog online or subscribe, which is my preference.
When I find an agent (editor) I’m interested in… I want to know more. I do two things in addition to looking at the agency or publisher website.
I see if the person is on Twitter https://twitter.com/. (Yes, you have to have an account, but you don’t have to talk.) I check to see if they are active on Twitter. I read through some of the agent’s tweets. Does the personality displayed appeal to me or not? Have they tweeted something that isn’t on MSWL or another interview, such as “I wish someone would send me ______.” I also use this to check to see if an agent is up-to-date on queries, which is helpful when I haven’t heard back in a long time. I’ve also asked general questions not specific to my own manuscript. As long as they aren’t basic writing questions or rude, people usually answer.
Then I’m off to Google https://www.google.com/. I search the internet for the person’s name. I’m looking for interviews/mentions/podcasts/websites. Sometimes, I discover the editor will be doing a webinar I could participate in. But whatever I find, each piece of information gives me a better handle on who she/he is.
Finally, I keep a list of the agents (editors) I want to try. And include details such as:
- What they want to see:
- Query letter
- Full manuscript, first ten pages, first 50 pages, first chapter
- Synopsis – one page, brief, or …
- Author bio
- Comp titles
- How they want it sent – email (attached or not) or form (with link)
- Report time – and if no response
This prepares me to submit and helps me not be discouraged when I get those inevitable rejections. After all, I have more on my list.