To date, there are 487 wrong ways to hunt for an agent. There is but one right way. And that, my friends, is the way that
is best for you. If you’re still finding your way to your way, and you don’t mind me meddling a bit, I’d like to pass along a few fibrous tips to help your process go more smoothly. Do not mistake me for an expert. I myself am a hunter, but I have learned a thing or three so far and I’m happy to share. M’kay, here we go . . .
Track yourself. Do identify a way to log your queries. Otherwise, you’ll be asking yourself who you asked. Such silliness that would be.
Me? Well, I have a simple three list system–but you do what works for you.
List 1: I keep a list of agents who are currently considering my query. You may want to compile more detail, but I just include the agent and agency, when I queried and when I can anticipate a response (many agents will indicate this in their submission policies). I don’t just say six weeks; I actually indicate an expiration date. No word by then? NEXT!
List 2: This is comprised of agents who are ready to move up to the first list as soon as I receive a no from an agent (or the query expires). I add to this second list of names as I discover a new possibility via FB or a friend (but only after I have run the agent through the good-fit test). Don’t just make a list of names. Do your homework first.
List 3: Sure, as you’d expect, I have a list of agents who have declined. With this, I indicate if the agent actually declined or was simply a “no response.”
Go public. Hunting for an agent and expecting not to be rejected is like walking onto a used car lot and expecting not to be hounded. Because of this, it’s scary to tell people you’re looking. I know. Trust me, I know. But here’s what I’ve learned–the more people I tell about my search, the more friends I have hunting for me. It’s rare for a week to pass without getting a tip–“Just heard Agent X is looking,” “Saw this on Twitter and thought of you,” “Have you queried Agent XYZ yet? He’d be a great fit for you.” So, don’t keep your hunt hush-hush. You don’t have to blab to the world. Simply sharing your agent pursuit with a circle of trusted comrades will more than double your search party. G’head. Do it. (And be sure to reciprocate!)
Keep moving. Can’t lie. So far, there have been a couple of rejections that have bruised a bit. But truly, and maybe I’ve developed a kind of literary immunity, but I don’t fuss much over a decline any more. It’s just part of the process. If it does hurt, I give myself a day to feel schlumpy and then I jump back on the hunt. Having that second list of pre-approved agents is the trick. To insure I have about five queries out at all times, I prepare a new query as soon as a rejection arrives. It keeps my momentum humming and prevents me from poor-me-stinating. (Poor-me-stinating is similar to procrastinating, but more pathetic looking–think Sarah McLachlan rescue animal commercial pathetic–I know. So bad.)
Now, what about you? You got any ideas you’d like to share? Please do. And happy hunting!
Beware of advice—even this. ~ Carl Sandburg