Dedicated to the One You Love: Nine Steps to Targeting an Agent/Editor

Well, snow has slowed down this post. Not that it snowed today, but the prospect of another 16″ on top of the 12″ already sitting on the ground meant I ran around crazily in circles doing a week’s worth of errands in one day.


Enough about my petty problems. On to the business at hand.

You don’t want to waste your time submitting to agents/editors who won’t be interested in your manuscript. Naturally, as a professional writer you check their interests and submission guidelines. But how to decide which agents/editors to consider in the first place?

Nine Steps to Targeting an Agent/Editor

  • To find your one true agent/editor, research books that are similar to yours in genre or attitude. Check for a shout-out to a literary agent or editor in the acknowledgements.
  • If you feel a certain author must have the sort of agent or editor that would be your fairy godmother and can’t find any mention of her in that author’s books, first write that author a shaming letter. Then look on her blog.
  • Another place to find a particular author’s agent is QueryTracker. Roll your trusty mouse over “Agents” up on the top menu, and the drop down menu will exhibit a category at the bottom: “Who Reps Whom?” Click upon it with all your might.
  • At this point, you may be ready to break all your dishes with a baseball bat just to hear the smashy-sounds consider any agents who are interested in your genre. So look them up on QueryTracker. By. Genre.

So you’ve found a bunch of agents/editors who rep/acquire the genre you’ve written. All done, Right? Throw 200 queries out there, and sit back.



Er, Buck.

Do they have the same vision you do? Are they going to take your manuscript full of mush and shape it into a commercial blockbuster? Is that what you want? Are they going to quietly mull dainty changes in your story over a spot of tea? Or are they barely going to glance over your attachment before they forward it to the editor? Which of these scenarios suits your goals? AND HOW DO YOU FIND OUT JUST WHAT KIND OF MONSTER YOU’RE DEALING WITH?????


Oh, the truth is that none of these methods is bad or wrong, but only one is right for you.

  • So go to Absolute Write Water Cooler to see what the folks there have to say about the agent/editor you’re thinking about querying. Mostly, they talk about how slow they are to answer queries, but they will also get into whether they are legit, and peeps who are their clients will often chime in.
  • And try Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Chat Boards, better known as The Blue Boards. All kinds of info flies around there. I heartily recommend you join the Blue Boards if you haven’t, for many reasons. Just get in there, and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Google the agent/editor you want to query to see if they’ve given any interviews. It’s amazing what kind of tidbits you can glean.
  • And for heaven’s sake, if your intended agent/editor has a blog or twitter, you’d better get over there and read it. Nothing will give you a better idea of her personality.

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