Are you wanting to find an agent? I’m going to go with yes since you’re reading this post! I know that I am because an agent is
I’ve been researching query letters and literary agents a lot lately–I even watched a webinar on tips to land agents that sell adult books.
Here is everything I’ve learned to find an agent that will help you land your agent, too!
This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on one may result in a commission for me at no cost to you!
The Best Way to Find an Agent for Your Book:
I want an agent so that I can sell my books to the big 5 publishers, which I’m sure is your reason, too! It’s also nice to have someone handle all the paperwork, so I don’t have to.
Having an agent is definitely an asset as an author, but it’s not required. Some authors will even sell their first book without an agent and then try to find an agent.
What does an agent do?
A literary agent works as a mediator between you and the publisher. They will help you get the best contract and negotiate for other things, like foreign rights and media rights. For all of this work, they will earn a commission off of your writing advance and sales.
I like to think of it as the middleman who does my dirty work. 😉
To make sure you get a good agent that will find you the best deal, you will need to do your research. Having a bad agent is most of the time worse than not having an agent at all.
When do you need an agent?
You will definitely need an agent if you want to submit to a closed house, however, there are other avenues for submission you can try before you have to submit to one of them.
I’ve been able to submit to some editors at the big house through conferences and memberships through SCBWI & Children’s Book Insider. In the case of a yes though, I’d want to send out emails to some of my top agents with “offer for publication” as the subject line.
An offer for either publication or representation is a great way to find an agent you really want because they’re more likely to read your query! It will also keep you from signing a bad contract (Which happened to a friend of mine on her first book).
What do you send to an agent?
I haven’t needed to write a cover letter since most submissions have gone digital, however, you will ALWAYS need to write a query letter. It’s the way to pitch your book to an agent.
Along with the query, most agents will require the first few pages of a novel or full picture book manuscript, plot synopsis, etc. You will need to check their submission requirements BEFORE you send to them. It’s a rookie move to send the wrong items, but suuuuper easy to do. I’ve done it. 😳
What does a query look like?
A query is essentially a cover letter or introductory email to your story. The email, in most cases, will be quick and to the point. It lays out why the agent should read your book and try to sell your story.
And if you don’t write it well, it can mean that your book might not be read. No pressure.right? 🙈
The query should consist of six parts: greeting, connection to the agent, hook, summary of your story, a short bio, and a salutation. You want to do this as concisely as possible–300 words or less! Think about what you would find on the back cover of your book and stick to only talking about your book.
I know it may feel impossible, but you can do it. I finally got my first full-manuscript request from a publisher and it was so EXCITING!
For more in-depth query tips, check out my article on how to write a successful query!
**The number one tip to find an agent is to do your research!
Agents like queries that are personalized to them, not canned versions. It lets them feel a connection to you or your story. And it helps you, too!
You don’t want to spend time sending to someone that isn’t a good fit for you, so take time to do your research before you submit. It’s also a way to avoid unnecessary rejection. 😊
Where should you look for an agent?
There are three spots for you to find an agent in the children’s market:
I’ve used all three sources and find them all beneficial in their own way.
1. The Book from SCBWI
If you are a member of SCBWI, you get a FREE book known as The Book. It has a list of all the publishing houses and agencies, along with contact information for both. This book is updated regularly throughout the year.
Although the book is free, the membership is $85 for the year. If you aren’t a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, I would recommend joining them.
However, if a membership is not in your budget, then you should get the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market because it’s just as informative as The Book!
2. The Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
This is a very cost-effective resource for you at less than $20! The children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is a comprehensive list of publishers and agencies with their contact information. Plus it’s updated yearly!
I like to get the hard copy and highlight the agencies/publishers that work best for each of my stories. And I try to find an agent that will sell all types of the children’s market since I write for the whole spectrum–or would like to!
3. Online Literary Agent Search
Although this is a free resource, you should be picky on the sites you look for. Typing in a general search won’t help you find an agent in a specific market as easily as the other two resources. (It’s like squeezing into skinny jeans after Thanksgiving Dinner. Very hard to come out successful!)
I recommend investing in at least one of the other sources first, and using the web to research the agent you’re interested in.
The best websites for doing your research online are Literary Rambles, Publisher’s Weekly, and Writer’s Market. But you should also use the agent’s own website or the agency’s website, and any interviews you find to help you find an agent that fits your needs.
It’s a long process to find an agent, but with the proper research, you will be able to find an agent that will be best for you and your story!
Remember these tips before you submit to an agent:
- Know if Your Manuscript is Ready to Submit
- Be Sure Your Formatting is Correct
- Write a Successful Query
- Be Sure to Target Your Perfect Reader
- How to Win a Twitter Pitch Party
Also, get the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market book to start your research. This is the latest version with the most up-to-date information on publishing houses and agencies that you can submit to. Get your copy here!