I’m at the point in my journey that I need a literary agent to represent me to publishers. The self publishing route is great if you want more control. No bashing indies here. I wasn’t all that great at it, so I’ve been set on a traditional publishing path for Fantastic America. So I’ve spent a lot of time lately writing and rewriting my query letter.
If you don’t know what a query letter is, think of it as a cover letter for your resume. In this case your resume is a finished, polished manuscript. The query letter is your attempt to get an agent to read the manuscript. Writing a novel is hard, condensing the idea of your novel is harder.
I spent a couple of years building the world in which this story takes place. The settings, characters, events, and undercurrents of this world live in my mind. Paring all of that down into a brief, one page letter that captures the story is daunting. The query is important, but it is only part of the equation.
The hard part for me is choosing the right agent to send my query to. They have to represent the genre I write. Easy enough to look up online (MSWL, Query Tracker, Publishers Marketplace, etc.), but there is more to it than that. What kind of agency are they with, how many other clients do they have, are they an editorial agent, and have they ever represented authors with a book remotely like mine?
This is all to build a list of potential agents, someone who might advocate on behalf of me and the book I’ve written. For the agent and I to be a good fit, they have to believe in the story as much as I do (or close to it). If we mesh well, they will also be my advocate for books to come. Since I’m writing this book as the first in a series, that’s important to me too.
So here I am, with a slowly growing list of about thirty agents (my goal is fifty). I have a query letter that I rewrite at least once a week. And I pour over agent and agency profiles night after night, looking for people who might be (based on the information I have) a good fit for me and the stories I want to tell. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out!