I have a new favorite website for writers: Guide to Literary Agents. Chuck Sambuchino’s advice on agents is insightful, and he frequently shares up-to-the-minute news on what’s happening at the agencies. Like this:
Chuck starts off with a reminder:
Newer agents are golden opportunities for new writers because they’re likely building their client list; however, always make sure your work is as perfect as it can be before submitting, and only query agencies that are a great fit for your work.
This is essential. It can’t be emphasized enough: You’ve got to play shape shorter with your work and potential agents. Just like my 2-year-old works hard at fitting the yellow wooden triangle into the right space on her adorable little rolling snail, you must also find the agent who is the right fit for your genre and voice. Anything less guarantees you a short trip from the slush pile to the round file.
The post I linked to does a great, succinct job of illustrating how specific an agent might be about what she or he wants you to submit. (P.S. There are links to other new agents toward the end.) There is a gold mine of info in Ms. Melnitsky’s bio. Check out the authors she has already worked with (including Kathryn Stockett, author of the runaway hit The Help.) There is a healthy paragraph about the kind of work she’s seeking, and it goes well beyond genre. It’s not enough just to look for agents who are seeking thrillers, or romance, or sci-fi.
What else defines your work and your style? Take some time to figure this out, put it into words (not too many), and your pitch will be more efficient and effective.