Finding and Networking with Literary Agents | Barbara Vance | Skillshare

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Finding and Networking with Literary Agents

teacher avatar Barbara Vance, Author, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (1h)
    • 1. Introduction

      3:32
    • 2. Are you ready to submit to an agent ?

      10:58
    • 3. What Agents Do: The Job Description

      7:04
    • 4. Do You Need an agent? Pros and Cons

      11:35
    • 5. Finding and Researching Literary Agents

      12:57
    • 6. Networking with Agents

      4:35
    • 7. Choosing the best agents for you

      6:58
    • 8. Tracking your research: managing information

      3:14
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About This Class

Literary Agents: What They Do, How to Find Them, and Do You Need One?

The business of writing is an important aspect of your career you cannot afford to ignore. If you are interested in having your work publishing, you want to take all the necessary steps to increase the likelihood of success. This includes finding theĀ agents who are best suited for you and your work.

Agents represent your writing; it is essential to submit to individuals who understand your work, are open to what you are doing, have the proper connections, and are looking for the same kind of writer-agent relationships you are (among other things!). Submitting to the wrong agent can not only dramatically slow down the time it takes to get published, it can also close your opportunities with other agents.

In this course, we will cover:

  • What agents do
  • Pros and Cons of having a literary agent
  • How to make sure you are ready to submit
  • The MANY ways you can research literary agents
  • What questions you should be asking to evaluate who is the right fit for you
  • How to track your research

The class includes a spreadsheet you can use to keep track of your findings.

Meet Your Teacher

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Barbara Vance

Author, Illustrator

Teacher

 

Barbara Vance is an author, illustrator and educator. She has a PhD in Narrative and Media, has taught storytelling and media production at several universities, and has spoken internationally on the power of storytelling and poetry. Barbara’s YouTube channel focuses on illustration and creative writing.

Her poetry collection, Suzie Bitner Was Afraid of the Drain, which she wrote and illustrated, is a Moonbeam Children’s Book winner, an Indie Book Award winner, and was twice a finalist for the Bluebonnet Award. Its poems are frequently used in school curricula around the world.

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: hi, everyone. And welcome to this course that is all about literary agents, specifically what they do, how to find them and network with them and what to look for In a good agent, as creative writers are, focus tends to be on our work, which is great, and that's where it should be. But we don't want to neglect the business side of what we do because as writers, that is actually business if we hope to get published. And so it's very important that we understand the business landscape in which we work the players in that landscape, how to navigate it on how to best put ourselves into it to that. And this course is all about helping you understand what is for many of us, one of the key players in the success of our publishing endeavors, and that is a literary agent. Throughout this course, we're going to be looking at what actually a literary agent does the pros and cons of having a literary agent, which will help you decide. Shouldn't you have a literary agent? It might be that that's actually not the best avenue for you because of the kind of work you do or the career goals that you have. So we want to look and see if that's even something that you would want to do when we want to look at actually what makes a good literary agent. What should you be looking for? What should you be expecting from that relationship? And then we really want to dive in on How do you find these people and how do you assess whether they're the right person for you? So it's not that we want to know what they do. Are they right for us? How do we find them and how do we assess them? This is not a course on them. Actually, how do we then reach out to them? That's a whole other content in terms of query letters and outreach and publishing etiquette, and that that's sort of the next step. But this just gets you to the place where you can find them and know who they are and be able to have in your pocket the arsenal. You need to make good decisions that you want to make for your writing career. I have had the great fortune to work with many creative professionals across a variety of media platforms for a lot of key players in the publishing industry but agents for a writer that can be one of the most important decisions you can make. This is a relationship. This is someone you might have a contract with for a years. You might have that set up, so you really want to make sure that you're doing your homework in researching them and choosing the people who are best for you and for whom your work is best for them, which you want is to find a mutually beneficial, nurturing relationship between two people who have similar goals. Choosing these people is very important. It's also really important to put the time up front to research agents because these are people you're going to submit your work to, and you want to make sure you're submitting to people with the highest likelihood that they will want to represent you, and indeed that they will. I understand you and help shape your career because, as we will talk about, that's one of the things that an agent does is help shepherd you in your writing career, which can be invaluable. So you want to take very seriously. This is a personal relationship that is long term and that you can help that person and they can help you. To that end, let's get started and we will begin by asking ourselves, Are you ready to even approach an agent? 2. Are you ready to submit to an agent ?: even if you're not ready to submit your writing at this time, so your mid draft it is not too early to be thinking about the business side of your writing career. You want to start the business side of your writing career now, before you have something to submit so that when you have something to submit, you have everything in place that you need. You have the resources and knowledge and the presence on the Web and anywhere else to be the best candidate for someone to want to work with you. That you can be so taking time to understand how the publishing industry works, the various players in that industry and how you can best maximize your own presence in that industry is incredibly important. That means that you want to think about okay, am I ready to submit now? Even if you know you're not ready to submit, you want to think about what you'll need when you already to submit, because some of those things that's work you can start and should start now. So let's go over some of the things that you should have in place when you are in fact, ready to submit your manuscript, and then we can see what of those things should you be starting on today? Now and so that when you're ready to submit is all in place. First of all, are you open to feedback? The questions? Sounds like a given, but it's really not, I can tell you years of working with writers. Those who are really not receptive to feed back struggled the most in their careers. You want to be open to what people have to say, and you want to be open to criticism, and you want to welcome that criticism. So if you are very sensitive about your writing, if when people criticize it or have something to say about that, you don't agree with this terribly upset, too. I really I think that that is something that you should sort out for yourself before you seek out an agent. Because professionals in the publishing industry want to work with people who will listen. It doesn't mean you have to do what they say, but you have to be open minded about it. You need to be able to have a constructive conversation about it, so if you are not in a place where you feel like you can do that with your peers. Comments about your writing, then you're not ready to submit to a professional. Which brings me to my next point. If you are in fact open to criticism. Great. Have you had your writing peer reviewed? Have you given it to somebody else? One person to person, more than two people, preferably who will read what you've written and give you feed back. I do not recommend submitting your manuscript until you've had a least one person. Look it over, and in fact, when you submit and again, this is not a course about submission. But when you submit, that's the sort of thing that an agent wants to know. They want to know if other people have read this. They want to know if you're a member of a critique group, they want to know if you're a member of a riding society. They want to know if you revise this so you want to get your manuscript and the most paulist position that it can be. You don't want to submit a draft to an agent and just say to yourself, Well, it's kind of rough around the edges, but they'll sort that out for me. And so it's fine. No, your goal is to get everything in place, your manuscript and your business side as professional as you can before you ever submit. So if you have not taken the time to have peer review, then you need to make time for that. Which means that even if you're not ready to submit right now, what you can be doing is find that peer review group that you can be a poor job. This will very often be something that you confined through a local writing society. There are a number of writing societies you can be a member of, and many of them have local chapters. And many of the local chapters have critique groups. So take time now to join one of those, and you don't. If you're writing a novel, you don't have to ask someone to sell it to read your whole novel. When you starting out, have them read a chapter, you get critic criticism along the way that's going to help you with your work. So so if you not have that peer of you, if you've not had that peer to peer critique take time to do that third point revision. If you have not revised your draft several times several times, you are not ready to submit to do not, as I was mentioning earlier, submit something that's rough around the edges. You need to have gone through your novel story, etcetera at least three times for the story content itself. And then you want to do at least two passes on grammar and punctuation and things like that . If someone picks up your manuscript and they see a lot of grammar issues, spelling issues, just formatting and things like that, they will throw it away. Because even if it's good, what you're saying is that you don't care enough about your writing career or your professionalism to present something to them that looks good, and that's not going to bode well to them. They want someone who's focused on really producing I quality work, so make sure that you have done the revisions both against story line and editorially, that you need to make sure that you have the most polished piece of writing possible. This includes manuscript formatting for submission. Different agencies will have different ways that they want you to submit your manuscript. So you want to make sure that that manuscript is in line with what they are looking for. Generally, the industry does have overarching ways that they want something submitted, and this can be different if you're doing a novel versus a picture book or something like that. But it's up to you to take the time to do the research in your industry and for your specific form of writing to make sure that your manuscript is formatted the way that they would like it to be. The next thing you want to make sure that you have done before you start submitting to agents is that you have a website presence. I don't care if your website is a one page website with your photograph and a bio. You don't need a lot. But you do need a bare minimum Web presence. The more Web presence you have if it's a good Web presence, the more that helps you. So it's one of those things that if you've got a great blawg that has quite a number of followers and your agent read your book and thinks It's interesting they're going to Google you. They're going to want to know more about you. They see this great website that has followers. They see you've got a Twitter account, you have followers and people commenting and you're you're alive online. Is it work? Then that's going to make them more inclined to work with you. Which means if you don't start building this now, then when you're ready to submit, you won't have that block. You won't have that history of interactions again. This is so important. You want to start this now get a website doesn't have to be complex. I don't love social media, but social media is as we will be discussing quite helpful for you. You don't have to live on it, but it can be very helpful to choose one of two social media platforms to be deported to do your homework on social media platforms on websites to make sure that you have some of those things in place and a history of activity. By the time that you're looking to submit to agents, the next thing you want consider is if you are a member of any writers associations, this varies from industry to industry. But as I mentioned earlier, Big, a member of a writer's association, has quite a number of benefit. Not only can you find peers who can read your writing and you read, there's writers. Associations have conferences. They have publications that come out. They are dedicated to helping you be the best writer that you can be in having the most success with your career that you can have. I highly recommend doing your homework and find the best associations for the kind of writing that you would like to do and make sure that you're a member of at least one association. This can be something that you mentioned later on to the agent. It is yet another thing that will make you seem professional and serious about your career to a literary agent. Once you have all of that in place, the next thing you want to make sure before you submit twin literary agent is that you've actually done your research in your homework. This will be the bulk of this course is doing the research, doing the own work. What do you look for in an agent? You want to make sure you've done that up front because otherwise you're going to waste a lot of time. Um, a lot of heartache and even maybe still in this day and age postage submitting to people who are not right for you. And they will not appreciate that, either. So you want to make sure that you have done your homework forward. The agents you want to submit. You also want to make sure you understand the publishing landscape for your work. So if you're a Children's book author, you should be apprised and up to date with the landscape for Children's book publishing. If you have written a picture book about a pay goes to school and you aren't focused on the potion landscape, then you don't realize that there's actually already a very popular Siri's out there about little pig in school. Then you know what's going to really probably be interested in picking up your book. So you want to make sure you know what the competition is. You want to make sure you know what people are interested in, who is publishing what what's happening. What are the popular books at the moment? What's having A was having a moment. What's not what's missing? Where does your work it into the field? You have to be able to justify why what you have written is unique and necessary. It is not enough just to say it's a good book. Where does it fit in? And the reason this is so important. And I know this can be hard is an artist, and I really do feel that because you can say no, this is a great piece of art. This is just a wonderful book with wonderful story on, but might all very much be true. The truth is that publishing is a business, and it costs publishers money to publish your book. So every step of the way is a sales pitch. That agent has to pitch your book and has to answer precisely that question to a publisher . To make the publisher wanted, you have to be able to know that landscape so you know where you fit into it. Finally, of course, before you submit to an agent, you want to make sure you have a really well written query letter, which is a course, all of it. Oh, but a query letter is something that accompanies your manuscript or the segment of your manuscript that you do submit, and it introduces you and your work to an agent. There is an art form to doing these as well, and you want to make sure you have a very, very solid one in place. So that's just a brief overview of some of the things that you really want to make sure you already have in your back pocket before you ever reach upto a literary agent. Now that we've covered some of those things, let's talk about what actually does a literary agent do. 3. What Agents Do: The Job Description: agents have what I think of as a very interesting fun career. They have their hands, so many Baines, and they can be a marvelous advocate for you as a writer. Among them many, many things that they do day today. First selecting manuscript to purchase less than 1% of the manuscript that an agent will look at will. Actually, they'll say Yes, I want to represent that They will go through many, many, many Manu scripts and choose a select few. So I don't think this is any secret for those of us who are writing creatively. But it's very, very competitive, which is again, why you want to make sure you stand out in every way possible. But that is the first thing that we think of when we think what an agent does is just selecting the manuscript he or she would like to represent. Once they've done that, the next piece of their job is getting that piece of work that book, that short story, etcetera, ready to sell. They very often will want you to make some edits. Some changes before they turn around and try to picture book to publishers. Sometimes they'll just say I love this just as it is. Let's pitch it. But more often they'll sort of be like a writing coach. And there will come back at you with edits or things I want to chat with. You say, Maybe let's make some of these changes. What do you think about that? They work with you to shape your story into the most salable piece that it can be. It is very wise of you to listen to them. This does not mean that you have to abdicate all of your own opinions about your writing and simply do with the agent says if an agent gives you some feedback or advice that you really think it's not best for your work, make that case respectfully have that conversation. But always keep that open mind. So Agent is going to Yes, I'd like to work with you and then they're going to help shape the story they are working on. If you have a long term relationship with an agent, you signed up with the contract of, say, three years or something like that, then they'll do this with all of your work. You can say What do you think about this. You send them something, and then you start to have that conversation. In that way, agents can really help shape the trajectory of your story. Um, so there are marvellous acid in that way, and writing can be so solitary. It is just a breath of air to have someone who can look at your work and make good opinions about it that you have confidence in. So again, this is why it's so important that you find agents who you really do have confidence in their opinion. And you feel like you're on the same page because this is someone who will be helping shape your stories. Once an agent has worked with you and says, Yes, here, we've got your manuscript and it's in a good place and I'm ready to submit right now. That's what they will do. They will turn around and they will present your work to a variety of publishers. They will choose the best publishers with which to work agents have in part of their job is to have a lot of connections across the industry, so they're going to know better than you. Oh, Sally, she's going to really like this. I know this because of X y Z. They're going to know who's best to submit to the will. Take what you've done and they will. Sharon's. I think you'll really like this. They will leverage their connections. They will leverage their salesmanship skills and negotiate with a variety of publishers to find someone who is interested in your work. This means that they have a very solid understanding of the publishing landscape, and they have access to all of the professional databases and resources with which to have that understanding. The really is no one way that an agent has to submit a manuscript. There's no one way to sell a book. It can happen casually over a coffee. It can happen more formerly with the sales pitch there all kinds of ways that this can happen. Sometimes, if you're lucky, more than one publisher will be interested in your book. An agent can submit numerous publishers at one time, and publisher can be interested in your book and which point it's the agents responsibility to actually have a little auction and, you know, try to sell your work to the highest bidder. And that could not just be financial. That can be a lot of different things that go into that negotiation. This is a very, very technical port of what they do. There are so many things that go into what would be on ideal book. Contract really isn't always about money, so an agent isn't just interested in telling your book. A good agent will also be interested in your career. And because of that, they'll really want to choose the contracts that are best for you in the long. So it's not just a matter of finding the right publisher. It's a matter of negotiating the contract. This can include foreign rights. It can include E book sells audiobooks cells. There are a lot of complex things that go into book contracts and actually is very beneficial for you to understand some of that. So I highly recommend doing. I'll work on that so that you can speak to it as well, but this is something that your agent will do for you. This also includes organizing other rights of your book, television, film sales, foreign rights, all of the sort of financial transactions and contracts all of the ways in which your book can be sold way. It's an agent's job to say. How many different ways can we market this book and make money off? If it, you know, when you think of Harry Potter, you think of the little jelly beans that they sold and all of the dolls and toys in the films of the foreign rights and thes special additions and the folders and the spiral notebooks that had branding on it. Agent agents are a part of these decisions in a part of these contracts, So you want someone business savvy and someone creativity, who can really think with large potential for the work that you are doing. Lastly, on Agent helps guide your career again. An agent should be, hopefully a long term relationship. That should be someone who helps you make decisions, someone who has your best interests at heart and who is actively working to make sure that you don't just have one great book sold that you have many great books sold. So this is a lot of what agents do. It's not all of the things an agent would do at all, and these are large buckets, but it's a very good overview. Having given you that I'd like to talk specifically about whether or not an agent is the right choice for you. So that means us looking at the pros and cons of being an agent. Everything I've listed here is going to end up in this pro category because these are all the things that they do. It's like, here's what we offer you, but I want sort of just take some time specifically and talk about what or these benefits or these benefits that you need for your own career goals. So let's now look at specifically okay, what are the main benefits and agent provide and what, if any other downsides to having an agent or just reasons that agent might not be best for you? 4. Do You Need an agent? Pros and Cons: There are many perspectives on having an agent, and so what you're going to hear is mine. But by no means is what I have to say about this. The only opinion out there. I highly recommend that you take time to read logs, read newspaper articles. Just just get to know what other people think about this, because that's going to help you make the best decision for yourself when we think about the things that an agent does that work for you. There are three main categories that I have broken this down into, and those categories are. Agents have connections and access to publishers. Agents have industry and literary knowledge and know how, and agents provide great support. Let's say it again. Agents have access and contacts in the publishing industry. They have the business and the literary acumen to assess and navigate your book. And they have the support to give you for your both your work right now and your career long term. So agents have access. The publishing industry is all about relationships pretty much you hear that about most any industry, it seems like, but publishing it's really quite true. It's much harder for an author to go and try to submit if you try to just submit directly to a publisher. One. Most publishers aren't even going to take your work. If you go and you look at a publisher's website and you see okay submission guidelines. Most publishing websites will just tell you we're not open toe unsolicited manuscript. If they say we don't accept unsolicited manuscript, what they're saying is you have to have an agent on the rare occasion that a public show will let anybody submit. What that means is that when you submit, your work is going to go into what's called a slush pile. And the slush pile is filled with people just like you who are hoping that BAT publisher will publish a work. Some organizations go through the slush pile every week. They'll go through some of it. They probably won't get through all of it pretty much. I guarantee you they will not get through all of it in a week, but they take time every week, and that's part of what they do is go through the slush pile. Um, however, they may not. Your manuscript could sit in a slush pile for months and months and months. So there's a long waiting period that happens. And it is There are so many Manu scripts in a slush pile that they do not have time to reply to everybody most often and say, I'm sorry, we're not interested. Very often, they just want you just want you. So, um, that that's a tough situation to be in you by Passel of that with an agent. Agent knows directly to him to show you something. You also within a publisher. They have a lot of different editors, so you might have a publishing house and it might have 12 different editors at it. And each editor has his or her own pet interests pet projects, things that he or she wants to shepherd. So if your manuscript ends up in the slush pile right editor at that house, who would love to publish your book? But unfortunately, his other editor, who is not interested, picked it up, read it and didn't think much of it now within a publishing house, A good editor if if If I read something and I go, this isn't for me. But I know Jane will love it. I will share it over to her, but you're still running the risk of my thinking. It's quality enough to center Jane or my thinking. Jane might like it, and so you just run a risk. It's a four less personal way to go about it. Agents. No agents, no other agents. They know they know. Editors. Senior editor's assistant Editors. They know who is looking for manuscript singer who is not. So they understand. Okay, this is where it is best. For me to send this work that's a large part of their job is to understand who to share it with and to keep those connections and to nurture those connections. You really want an agent who understands people and use a sales person. So that's something that you were looking for in those relationships, and it can be a great benefit to you to know that I wrote something. I know this person's championing my work in the best way possible, and I know that they have the access to the right people and they know the right people to share a wick. This really opens you up to do what you want to do, which is right or writing Illustrated. You're doing picture books, so it just takes a big load off of your shoulders. And you don't have to keep up with the submissions, which is its own thing to a lot to keep up with submissions. And again, as we mentioned earlier, your book might go into a bidding war. If and several publishers all want your book, an agent is going to help negotiate that and gets a get a publisher to offer more money or to offer this other concession or whatnot. They're going to do their best to make sure that contract for you is the best that it can be. Um, the publishing world really is very complex just to this, like a legal point. And it's there's so much law involved. There's so much contract negotiation involved. It is a lot to get once head around. And unless you really have the time to understand all of the Internet and even then if it's not your job day today, you are at a disadvantage. These are people who really know what they're doing. They know the language. They know the ins and outs. They know the things they can negotiate for so often, you might think, Well, I didn't even know I could ask for that. That's because you're not an agent so that they know, and they can really work to make sure that contract is negotiated as well as possible. All of this brings me to the next category, which is that industry. Know how someone has to keep of your keep up with contracts, negotiating royalties, keeping up with royalty payments, licensing rights when someone wants to license something, or trying to procure licensing rights or sell licensing rights, foreign rights, all kinds of contracts. There are a lot of legalities, and it's a lot to keep up with. And that's one of the things that an agent does. There really is a legal aspect to the work that they do finally aid and support you. As he mentioned, writing can be very solitary. It is wonderful to have an advocate in your corner, someone you can email someone you can bounce ideas off of someone who will helped shape your work. There's a wonderful collaboration that happens with agent, and then once you work, is being published with an editor. It feels really good to work with other people on your work and not just in isolation. So an agent provides that kind of support for you not just now, but throughout your career. Now reasons you might not want to work with an agent. First and foremost, the financial agents generally don't always take about 15% from the sales of your book. Now keep in mind that when it publishes sells a book, you're really getting a percentage of those sales. So if you earn 8 10% of a book's overall royalty so you would take the books initial profits, you would take out your maybe say 8 to 10% of its a novel of those profits. Then you would subtract 15% of that, and that leaves you with what is left. It is certainly true that some books just sell millions and millions of books, and some holders make scads of money doing this. But it's also very true that there really are a lot of players in the publishing industry, and everybody gets a little piece of the pie. But not a lot of people get a huge piece of the pie. So in general, I don't advise people to look at getting published as a get rich, quick kind of situation. Most people will not be a J. K. Rowling or somebody like that who just makes millions and millions off their books. So keep in mind that that agent is going to take their percentage. Now, Um, that's for you to consider if that's something that you want or not. It's one of those things that if you're really interested in self publishing and again felt something, I'm going to get into here the ins and outs of it. But it's self publishing really interests you. Then you do have more control over your book. When you work with an agent, you are abdicating a certain amount of control in change in exchange for their knowledge, etcetera. But if you want to go, then agent, you are going to give up some of the revenue in exchange for all of these things that they are doing for you. This doesn't include additional revenue that they would take. They will take off of everything. So it's not just the book foreign sales, television film dolls that are made of your book, anything that that agent negotiates, they will take a percentage of it can be more than 15% of times, and they will take this for the life of that book. So it's not like, Well, I have a three year commitment with that agent. So once my commitment with that agent is up, they won't get that commission anymore. No, they will get that commission for the life of the book, so that's something to keep in mind. The other downside to an agent really only happens if you get in a relationship with someone where it's not working. And so, first and foremost you want to avoid agents scams. You should not pay an agent to edit your work run, run, run from websites that say, Hey, I'm an agent or whatnot. Pay us A certain amount of money will polish up your book and you can publish it. That's not a legitimate agent. Agents work on commission, but sometimes you'll get in a relationship with an agent, and it's just not working. Which again, is why you really want to put in the homework to try to find the best person for you. So you have a good relationship. Sometimes an agent will just really try to sell your work, and they're just not having any luck that might be them. It might be you and your writing, and that doesn't mean that your writing is bad. It doesn't mean that your writing is bad. It means that it might not be the right time for your writing. There might not be a place in the landscape for it right now. It is so important to remember that it is not enough just to have a wonderful book. That's not enough. It has to fit in the publishing landscape at the time, so it might just be that the agent isn't having any luck selling it. It might be that you two aren't getting on. That could be difficult. And you have to look into my stuck with this person for three years. Can I, you know, separate with this person, and that can be stressful and all of the time that you're figuring that out is time that your book isn't being sold, so it's just very important you make sure that that agent author relationship is a good one . From the beginning, it is true that sometimes an agent might not be best for you, given the kind of work you want to do. If you're interested in nonfiction poetry, really high high literary fiction and supposed to popular fiction and short stories, you really might not need an agent. You might be better off, especially because the profit margins on things like that can be so small that working with an agent will leave you next to nothing. So in those cases, there might be avenues with literary journals. And what have you to, um, submit directly? And that might be of more interest. That a personal decision. You really won't know how you feel about that till you have gone and done the legwork yourself to see the publishers to see the possible agents to submit to see what's available to you. Who is accepting manuscript etcetera. Once you've decided, Yes, I want an agent. The next step is going to doing all of the research to find the right ones for you. 5. Finding and Researching Literary Agents: all right. Finding in researching agents There are numerous ways to go about doing this. Some of them are free. Some of them will cost you some money. It is up to you to decide where you want to put your time and your resources. So I would like to do is just run through a variety of different ways that you can research agents. Once we've gone over these, we will then look at the sorts of things that you should be looking for when you actually do this research. So starting place, trying to get a list of agencies. This is something that you can google fairly easily, and you can do this with your specific genre. But you colonel, student in general, an agency like writers house. We'll have agents who represent everything from picture books all the way up to literary novels, graphic novels, all kinds of things. So no a list of agencies that you can then go and actually research. Once you've done that homework and you've actually looked up all of these different agencies, you can then go through them and go and read agent bios. Most of these agencies will list their agents and those agents will have Agent Miles talking about things that interest them and the work that they have published. Take the time to read these. You want your submissions to agents to be very, very personal. So the agency websites are the great place to start. That's going to tell you if they're open to submissions or not what they're interested in what they published. And so you could sort of look at an agency. And when you do this, you really want to submit to one agent at an agency at a time. You don't want to submit to more than one to take the time to go through all of the agents and find the one that you think is best for your manuscript. So really, take time to read over that the agency where place is a great place to start. It's also going to tell you how to submit and give you the contact information necessary to do that for any agents who are actually open to manuscript submissions. Beyond that, there are numerous websites that will really help you research agents. So what I recommend is you start to find a list of agency want to work with? I generally recommend starting at those agency websites. It's not the only place you'll come up with names. You'll find other names as you go and you research things. But it's a wonderful place to start. And then once you have those names, it's not uncommon for you to go to an agency website and say, Well, there are four agents here that I think might be interested in my work. That's fine, right? All of those names down, you're going to go do more homework on them. You're not going to just go with what you found on the agency Web site, so start to make this list of agents. You'll start to winnow it down as you go and you do your homework. But as when you go to an agency website, just list in your in your little list or however you're going to track it. All of the agents you think would be of interest, and then you'll go and you'll do more research from there once you do that like Okay, well, I need to do more homework on these people. There are a variety of websites. Thes websites will also introduce you to other agents you might not have heard of. So they're a wonderful way to go about being introduced. Two new agents, as well as to kind of dig down and find more about the ones that you already interested in or who you think might be interested in your work. The first of these eyes Publishers MARKETPLACE Publishers Marketplace is fabulous. It is a paid service, but it's going to really tell you about agents it's going to You're going to get very up to date information about the most recent sales that have happened. What the agent has published, what are the upcoming deals that he or she has done? It is to me one of the best websites for that really specific, very industry specific, up to date information about specific agents you can find. This information will sort of come out over time. But in terms of really up to date, current published marketplace, it's one of the best that you can do now. It is something that you have to pay for, so it might be it that it's one of those things that you if you can't afford to just subscribe long term, you could subscribe for just a month or two, and just once you already have your agent list go in and just really spend that month or too focused in on it and getting all of the information that you can, Um, but I think it's a tremendously helpful website. The next one would be Publishers Weekly. This is sort of the industry standard publishing publication. It's got a magazine is got a website, and Publishers Weekly is going to keep up to date with the most recent deals that have happened. Changes that agents have made, who's moved houses, which, as we will get into can be very interesting for you to know. Oh, this agent moved from Ryder's house over to this agency or something like that. Who's a new agent or who is accepting manuscript who just sold the manuscript? Publishers Weekly has a news bit now. It can't track everything, so you're not going to get as much detail as you would say. With Publishers Marketplace, the Publisher's Weekly is just a phenomenal resource with which to stay up to date with the industry. They're going to cover the main conferences. They're going to cover trends. They're going to cover sales trends. They're going to cover a variety of all of the different kinds of literary fiction. Children's fiction cover all of these things. And within Publishers Weekly, there are email lists you can sign up for that are specific to your industry. Where to your work to take time to go and look at that. Take time to look at the website and read up on agents and see what agents have recently sold things. What have they sold? Go look at that. If one of your agents that you saw the publishing house, you know, see, has this news piece and Publishers Weekly, go see what they have sold. Go. Do you want to dig, dig, dig, go down rabbit holes to find information out. You also really do want to look for whose new as we will talk about this again. But the agents who who are the agents who are looking agents who are looking on more likely to look because they switched houses or because their new to being an agent, and that's a decision whether you want to seasoned agent or not. But this is what you will find that information. They'll also have interviews with agents and things like that, so you can learn more about them. And those interviews. And those articles are all going to tell you more about how the publishing industry works as a whole. And again, this is your industry. As a writer, you do not want to just put the blind to set and say, Well, I do writing. I don't do the business side. You want to know how that business side works because that really helps you your career and helps your agent help you. So you want that be able to dialogue about the industry and Publishers Weekly will help you do that. Agent query dot com is another great website. It's one that's just going to help you search out agents and find agents you might want to work with. So in addition to going through the different publishing houses and looking, looking at agent query and seeing what agents want and what agents are open to things is a great resource for you, as is the website query tracker. Query Tracker is another website that really helps you understand, Um, what ages of publishing and what specifically what deals are being made so that you get a handle on Well, what? What? What is a good deal? Look like? What should I expect from minute dance? How much other people receiving from from an advance? This is the sort of thing that Query Tracker will help you with. It really is a resource tries to pull together as much information as possible to help authors make good decisions. It empowers and author to understand contracts and understand. Are they getting a good deal? Are they getting a good contract? The highly recommend Query Tracker as well. Rodgers market dot com Writers Market has a lot of great resources. Blawg interviews, agent interviews things like that. Take some time to read through all of these. And finally, I would say there's a block called the Guide to Literary Agents Blawg, and this has a bundle of interviews with agents on it. It is an excellent resource. Now, I will say, as you compiled your list, you want to just put in the Google time to say you say your barber Vance's your agent that you're interested in with Google. Barbara Vance, literary agent, Border Advance agent interviews we just start to put in different search combinations with that agents name and you will find in many cases they've done interviews. They have their listed here that listed in a small thing on Publishers weekly Over here. They're listed in a blob interview over here. Read up on these agents and when you do make notes, make notes about what they said they're interested in. Make notes about what they've published already. What's you? I don't think it out, but they published Go and read it. If you're not familiar with it, go read some of what they've published and see if it's in line with what you like. If they have published something that you love, make a note of that. Take time when you're doing this to highlight copy paste, different quotes and things that they've said that you think are relevant for you. Copy paste those into a document or a spreadsheet. You will not remember all of this, nor will you remember where you found everything. So I highly recommend that as you do your research, you not only copy paste relevant things that you read that they have said, or that you have read about them into your document. But copy paste the most relevant links where you read them so that you can reference where you found that. All of that is going to help you build the information that you need to Then go and write a query letter. So, Joe, to not make the mistake of doing all this research and then deciding Oh, well, I want to work with four events. And now you are setting up to write me a query letter and then you don't have any of this information you, captain, where you found it and you can't find it to get you don't want to be in that position. So track, track, track your work. I really can't speak enough to interviews that agents do most of the time is, is on a blawg. It's one of the best ways to get to know them because it's personal. And the bloggers ask good questions often. And you can get in that agents head and learn. Is this the right agent for me? What kind of relationship do they like to have with their authors? How do they like to go about selling the book? What do they think the publishing landscape looks like? Right now, those agent interviews aren't valuable. And if you compare it, those out for the agency think you're interested in that will help you a long way in determining the ones you would like to submit to another great resources social media particularly, I would say Twitter, but also Facebook. But a lot of agents are actually on Twitter, and they are tweeting out book deals they done or books they've just finished or the you'll see who they're talking with. And that's so exciting because, um, as we'll talk about in a moment, networking is important part of what you do. And that is an avenue through which you can actually talk with them or communicate or put yourself out there. So definitely, definitely see what agents are on social media on what the saying on social media, Another great resource is Amazon. Go see who's published the books you've liked. Go see who represented the books she liked. Go if you know you like a certain book, Amazon always says, Well, if you like this, you'd like this. So look at a variety of things again. You want to understand the landscape. So don't limit yourself just to Well, I like these one or two books. No. What's the landscape? The writing you're doing? Who were the publishers doing it? Then go take those titles and google them and search them out and search the author out. Okay. Who wrote that book? Okay, who represents that author? So you get in, you find books you think are having a good moment or doing well. Find who the author is, find who represents that author. Then look up those agents and do the homework. We were just talking about to that end. Author Websites Another great resource. Goto in orders website with author websites can very often list the agency working with. So don't, um, you know, don't neglect looking to other authors as well. All of these are great ways to get to know more about agents. What? I cannot say enough. You want to establish solid list of agents? You want to make sure those agents are good for you in terms of what they are looking for in the fact that they're open to submissions any way you want to make sure you're tracking all of the research done on those agents in some kind of a document, so you can reference it later when you query them. Keep all of this in your pocket in the next video. I want us to talk about how you can network and get to know ages, even if you're not ready to submit. 6. Networking with Agents: It's a great idea to start networking for your career. Now you don't have to network with agents just when you have something to sell these air relationships, all relationships. And nobody likes to be wanted. Just because you want something from me, you're far more likely to get help from someone who's a friend already than from someone you are going to help only when you need help. So take time to get to know people first. Informal. A great way to do this, all writers conferences as mentioned earlier. There are a lot of writers associations, and many of those associations have conferences. I think it's a great idea to go to a conference that conferences can be expensive and so do I think you have to go all of the time. No, but do I think it's a really good experience? Yes, I do. It can be a stressful experience at times because there are a finite number of agents and publishers at a conference and then a whole lot of authors, which can leave you feeling like one of many, many, many, many, many um, but you can learn a lot and very often at thes agents will give presentations, they'll have. Panels will have talks. So I highly recommend if you go to a conference, look at the schedule and see Oh, look, the agents I'm interested in are giving talks here, here, here and here. Go to those talks and then afterward. Go up and chat for a minute with that agent. Introduce yourself. Say low. Have a decent little two minute conversation. You know how you'll have a really great two minute conversation because you've already done research on that agent. So you'll have something wonderful to say about the work that they have done, or something you know already interests them to do that homework up front. But take the time to go to some panels and things like that at a conference. Put a face to a name very often. When an agent goes to a conference and presents, they will open up submissions to people who came to their panel. So even if they're closed for submissions in general, what they'll say is, Well, I'm open to submissions to the people who came to this panel for the next two months or something, and they'll give you specific submission guidelines for that. So it's a great way. If you do have something ready to submit, go to a conference, go to all the panels with the agents you're interested in, and now you have an opportunity to submit to someone who otherwise isn't accepting manuscript. As we just mentioned, Social Media is another really great way to network. I'm not saying agents are going to suddenly start responding to you, but trying to dialogue about them or starting to be a social media presence and making posts that agents would be interested in, they will notice you they want to see your active, and so getting to know them that way might really spark their interest in your work. Webinars are another fabulous way to learn about agents and have a submission opportunity. These often come because you're a member of a writer's association. As I mentioned before, I think that's really great thing to do, and more and more and more writers associations will have. Whether ignores, it can be everything about the submitting process, or how do you write a better this or what not, And these presentations are often given by editors and agents and very, very often as in conferences, they will open up attendees of that webinar, allowing them to submit for a finite period of time. So this is another great way to have a submission opportunity with an agent and sometimes an editor. In this case, which is also true conferences, conferences will have both agents and editors presenting at them as well. Finally, a great way to learn more about agents is being a member of a critique group. Ideally, you are a member of a group. We're all getting better. And if you, if your peer has somebody who knows people, then that can help you now. What you don't want to do is if you've got right of friends who are published, you don't want to pressure them to make them give your work to their agent. That's not right. But the more writers you know, if they do like your work, then they'll help you. So just be in and among them, don't just mingle with agents, make friends with writers. Anyone will tell you if you want to build your writing career, do not just make friends with the people you think have the power to publish a book, make friends with your peers. That will help you in the long run. All right, now that we've looked at what an agent does if you even wanted agent, how you can network with agents, that's finally take a look at this last section, which is that as you're reading all of this research you're doing, how do you assess if that agent is, in fact right for you? 7. Choosing the best agents for you: as writers. We generally think that its agents who are assessing us and that is true, but it's up to us to choose the right agents to whom we would like to submit. So as you do all of this research, you want to know what are the questions that I should be asking? What should I even be looking for? That's still I've end to a list of things that you should look for when you are trying to choose the best agents to submit to first and foremost are they open to submissions? If they're not open to submissions, you can't submit to them. Unless, of course, you attend a conference or a webinar, as we spoke about so already. That helps you narrow down a lot. So make sure that's the first thing you trying to find out about it so that you don't spend a lot of time researching agents. Only then to find out. Oh, he's not even open to submissions. So that's kind of question number one that you want to answer for yourself. One of the great ways to know and sort of look for people who are open to submissions is to look for agents who are new or agents who have switched houses. So one of the things that people do is will. They want to look at all the seasoned agents and say, Well, this gentleman has been in the industry for 40 years and he works with all these really famous authors, and peace sold all of these books and that can be great And that's who you want to submit to. That's fine. But there is actually also a benefit to submitting to someone who's early in their career who's really looking to establish something those younger agents who don't already have the massive, impressive list. We'll have more time to give you so you might end up having a more personal relationship with them. Then you do with some of these more seasoned, incredible super agents. That's not always true. Every agent is different. But just when you think about time in general, there's only so much of it. And so these younger agents, who are really looking to establish their career, might have the energy and the time to give you something to consider. Do you want to see send agent? Are you open to somebody who's younger. So look for people who just switched houses. They just switched a house from one publishing house to another. Then they're more likely to be looking to build a list. If their new agents, then they're more likely to be looking to build a list. How would you find people who have switched houses and who are new agents by going to some of the websites that I talked about Publishers Weekly and reading up on that? That's one thing that you want to be looking at. The next thing you want to ask yourself is, What are they interested in? Do the new literary fiction? Do you popular fiction? Are they interested? Nonfiction, I think. Interesting picture books specifically in picture books. What are they interested in? This is the sort of information that's very often on the agency's website. But you want to know? Okay, is this person open to submissions? And if they are, what are they interested in? If it says hi, fantasy isn't my favorite thing. Don't submit your high fantasy to them, so you've got to know what their interests are. The next thing you want to look at is what have they published. This really is different. You would ordinarily think, Well, whatever their interests are should be in line with what they published. Not necessarily. So I might have published several books on animals. But now my interest is elsewhere, or I feel like the animal book market is saturated. So now my interest is elsewhere. So you want to know not only what is an agent interested in receiving insufficient, that you want to know what they've already done? Look at their publishing this Look at the books they had published. Look at the publishers. They had those books published with. If you confined sales data on those books, do that. Go look at the books they published. Go to Amazon. Has the book sold. Wealth is to have a lot of reviews. Who's published It? Was it published in paperback? Was it published in hardcover? Doesn't have any ancillary things with it. You want to see again? These thes people sell your work, so you want to see what are they doing? What's it like? What other kinds of things are they selling? Because my work's going to be next? All of those works. If you don't feel like it fits into that within the universe of that agent, then that might not be the best person for you. You also want to look at how recent their sales deals, or sometimes you'll have an agent who has some very impressive sales. But those sales happen to 10 years ago, and they really haven't published much since. That somebody who maybe for whatever reason, they're not as active in their career. That might not be the best agent you. So again you want to know not only the current books it on the market, what are their backlist books, where the books that maybe aren't as much for sale. Now you want to know their whole catalog of the things that they have represented because that gives you a very three dimensional picture of that agent. In addition to looking at the deals they have done and how many deals they've done, any information you can find out about how much of an advance what are the advances they got on those books can be very interesting. Book advances are its own beast talk about, But again, it could be just sort of helpful to see what kinds of negotiations that doing what are the size of the contracts and the deals that they've done? And this skin can be information that you ferret out through Google and through some of the websites that we've talked about. You also want to ask yourself, what kind of relationship do these agents want to have with their writers? Some agents are more hands off. They don't care to be terribly editorial. They don't care to talk much with their authors. They sort of let you do your book, and then they sell it. Some are really hands on and communicative there. You want to ask, What am I looking for in an agent? Do I want someone who is just going to kind of let me do my writing? Or do I really want a friend and an advocate, someone who's going to give me great feedback and all of the rest? It totally depends on what you like, but you want to know what they're looking for in a relationship, so it matches what you are looking for in a relationship. I also recommend looking at their agency as a whole what as a whole has their agency published these agents help each other and they work with each other. So yes, the agent is your relationship, but they're part of a broader family that is that agency. So take time to look at the agency. What is the reputation that that agency has? Because that attached itself to the agent. And you want to make sure that you're working with great people who will be respected because that will help them sell your work. Finally, you need to, as we've mentioned. No, you're publishing landscape. You've got to know the general landscape that the agent is working. You want to know? Here's my work. How does it relate to that agent? Where is that situated in their agency? How is that situated in the broader publishing landscape before the kind of genre or fiction or work that I'm writing? All of this is important so that you know how to situate your book. It's not just about situating it with an agent, you've got to situated with an agent within the publishing landscape. So all of these are questions that as you do your research, you should be asking yourself thinking about trying to decide if that works for you in the next video. I want to talk about how you can track these things in a way that will keep you saying. 8. Tracking your research: managing information: we've gone through. We've looked at what agents do is an agent for you. What sorts of ways can you research them? And what sorts of things should you be thinking about? As you do that research, that's a lot to keep in your head. So for you, I have a handy dandy agent tracking sheet that should help you get started. And what I recommend that you do is go through this sheet, look at the various questions, and then start to do your homework and fill out the blocks in the tables. Put your information in. If there are columns on this sheet in the spreadsheet that you think should be there at those in this just just a way to help you track things, you would do something similar once you start querying so you can keep track of everything . But this is just a very friendly way to keep up to date with all of the homework you're doing on these agents, because it really can get unwieldy. There's so much information, and I can say from personal experience, the heartache that happens when you don't track what they said, What you found, where you found it as you try to then go back in and shape a query letter. So this is in place for you to help you with that. I really recommend that you download it, give it a look and start doing your homework. Now start doing your research now. My action steps four. You are several. If you don't have a website, get a website going. If you're not on social media, get on social media. If you haven't looked up your publishing landscape, start knowing the landscape of your work and start looking into agents and reading these agent interviews. Even if you are not ready to submit, not even by half. Ready to submit. Start reading these agent interviews on some of the websites that I've talked about because it will teach you so much. You will empower you in a lot of ways. I highly recommend that you take these steps. I think it will make a huge difference in your writing career. I hope this man who has been helpful if it has, I hope No, seek me out in other places. I have a YouTube channel. I have a website. My website has a mailing list Please do sign up for the mailing list, because that way you will get updates not only on my new courses, but my new courses across platforms. Because I have course son, a variety of places on the Internet. You also will be able to keep up to date with recommendations that I have for your writing career. So please do seek me out their signal on social media on YouTube. Also, if you enjoy this video, please leave a review. That's tremendously helpful for me. It helps me continue to make content for you. I thank you so much for your kindness, your kind words, you encouragement, new interactions. I wish you the happiest, happiest day and as always, of course, the very best of luck with your writing and your writing careers.