Q. How can I get an agent?
A. Ask agented writers you know who their agent is and what they think of him/her. Many authors I know got their agents from this type of word of mouth. Send the agent a query letter, mentioning the author who referred you, and describing your manuscript. If the referring author is a good friend, and really likes what you write, they might even query the agent themselves.
If you don't know any agented author who will refer you, try the following:
- Look in Literary Marketplace (LMP) for agents that specialize in children's books. LMP screens the agents, making sure they're legit. There are vanity agents out there, who make their money by charging you for manuscript critiques and not by selling your books. There are also inept agents who think anyone can agent books, but who don't have the connections, the knowledge or the skill. A bad agent can do you more harm than no agent. LMP makes sure the agents make their money from sales, and that they are selling. Make a list of all the agents you find who have a major or sole focus in the children's market.
- Send them all a query, briefly describing your background, your sales record (if you have one), and the manuscript(s) you'd like them to represent. Ask them if they are willing to look at your manuscripts and consider you as a client, and if so, ask them to send you information about their agency. Make sure you provide a SASE.
- When the responses come in, prioritize the yes's according to a combination of all the factors that might be important to you—percentage (15% is now the norm, though sometimes you'll find 10%), location (New York is nice, but not essential anymore), enthusiasm, gut feeling, anything else.
- Send your manuscript(s) to the first agent on your prioritized list. Wait.
- If you're rejected, send to the second agent.
- Continue, one at a time, until you run out of agents.
- If they all reject you, just keep writing and marketing and try again after a year or two when you have more experience and more of a track record.
- If you're accepted, congratulations!
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Rick Walton is an award-winning children’s book writer with more than sixty published titles. He writes picture books, mysteries, poetry, activity books, articles and educational software. For more information about his work,
Posted with permission from Rick Walton.