Are you finished with your current fiction or non-fiction book and ready to find an agent? If you answered yes, you may be wondering how to find an agent that would be most likely to join your author team and be the driving force behind your book’s publishing success and getting that all-important royalty check. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help find the right agents for your current book.
1. Find an Agent List
The first step is to find an agent search portal. There are several free ones available. When I was doing this process, I typically chose either Agent Query or Query Tracker with Query Tracker being my favorite. However, you do have to login to Query Tracker in order for it to be truly beneficial.
2. Start by Searching Your Primary Genre
Once you’ve found a literary agent database, start by searching your primary genre. Examples of primary genres include romance, erotica, adventure, Christian, horror, fantasy, science fiction and mystery. As a first step, I recommend only searching by primary genre. This will give you the largest initial list of agents to vet. I searched erotica using Agent Query. That returned four pages of results.
3. Understanding Your Results
The agent finder that you use will list the agent’s name and the agency for which they work. It’s very important that you do not submit to multiple agents within the same agency at the same time. If you plan to submit to multiple agents within the same agency, you must wait for the first agent’s rejection or for the submission to time out. This is why I recommend setting up an Agent Spreadsheet prior to sending your submissions. As you find agents that may be a good fit for your work, you can add them to your spreadsheet.
4. Look at Each Agent in Detail
Next, you need to look at each agent in detail. The first agent that appeared in my search results was Ethan Ellenberg from the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. It’s important to note that if the agent’s name is in the literary agency name, he or she owns the agency and may be the only agent working at the agency. In this case, there are two other agents also working for Ethan.
5. Go to the Agency’s Website
Do not rely on the information in any curated database. There is no telling the age of that information. Instead, to find out more about the agency, right-click on the agency name and open it in a new tab. You don’t want to accidentally open an agency page in place of your agent list. Once you have the website open, go to the page that lists all the agents. For the Ethan Ellenberg example, I can see that there are three agents, including Ethan, Evan Gregory and Bibi Lewis.
6. Read the Agent Bios
Make sure you read each agent bio to make sure they take the type of work you have written. For Ethan, he appears to accept commercial fiction, romance, selective unmentioned non-fiction and children’s books. He is not the erotica agent at this literary agency.
Next, we have Evan Gregory. His agent bio on the website says to look at his AAR profile. He lists no specific information on-site. This means that in order to find more information on him, you have to right-click the link to his AAR profile. After I clicked on his AAR profile, I read the list of his genres. He is also not the erotica agent.
Lastly, we have Bibi. Bibi’s bio is on the agent author page for the website, but she accepts children’s books, YA, romance, women’s fiction, mysteries and thrillers. This is not the erotica agent.
Now, you might be thinking – butbutbutbut Agent Query said they take erotica! It’s very doubtful that any of those agents take erotica. The owner does not. The senior agent only accepts horror, mystery, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy and women’s literature. He is definitely NOT the erotica agent. Bibi accepts children’s books and YA. However, she does accept women’s fiction, and erotica can be found under women’s fiction. If you were really determined to send your erotica manuscript to this agency, your best bet would be Bibi, but in my mind, the acceptance of children’s books means that she may not actually like erotica, or if she does, it may be romance books with detailed yet sweet sex scenes, not the hardcore pornographic pussy-pounding, massive cock stuff that I write.
7. Look at the Submission Guidelines
Once you’ve chosen your agent, look at the submission guidelines to determine what the agency wants to see in your email. For Ethan Ellenberg, they want to see a query letter, a 1-2 page synopsis and the first 50 pages of your manuscript.
8. Look for Exclusions
On the submission page and in the author bios, look for exclusions. I found no exclusions on the agent bios for the Ethan agency. However, I found them on the submissions page. This agency does not take screenplays, poetry or short stories. They also relist their preferred genres, which include commercial fiction, including thrillers, mysteries, children’s, romance, women’s fiction, ethnic, science fiction, fantasy and general fiction. The directions also state that they do not open any attachments. This means that everything you send must be in the body of the email.
9. Add the Agent to Your List
If you find an agent that meets all your criteria and accepts the genre that you have written, add them to your agent spreadsheet. In this instance, I think I would have passed on these guys because it’s not expressly clear that any agent really truly takes erotica. If you think you may get hard-up for agents later in the process, you might add this agency to a secondary list of “maybe but not a great fit”.
10. Look at Where They Publish
Just because an agent appears to be a good fit, doesn’t mean they’re going to get you into a fantastic publishing house. To add an extra layer of vetting, you can check to see where they’ve had their author’s books published. What you are looking for are the genres and details on each publishing house (or just a few). Some questions to ask yourself include: Do these publishing houses take my genre? Could I submit to these publishing houses on my own? If you don’t see any publishing houses that accept your genre, the agent is not a good fit. If the agent only works with houses that state they take unagented submissions, you may want to think about how that agent could help you when you could do the same thing yourself and skip the agent part and handing over 15 to 20 percent of your royalties.