Ten years ago when I completed my first fiction novel I set out trying to find a literary agent to represent and sell my book. Back then, every business didn't have a website, Twitter and Facebook did not exist and the only way to find an agent was to buy a book that listed all the agents and go through it page by page. E-mail submissions weren't even heard of yet, so each submission cost you the postage to the agent and the postage for them to send it back to you in the SASE. When you consider that most submission included the first 3 chapters of a manuscript - this was very expensive. Now, 10 years later, I'm finding a whole different world out there for submitting manuscripts.
Agents are Actually Real People
Ten years ago, literary agents were shadow figures who you never saw and only read about in a literary agent resource book. The majority of them were men - and most did business out of New York City. When sending out my queries and manuscripts, I pictured literary agents as older men with pinched faces who sat at gleaming oak desks that held piles of manila envelopes full of manuscripts from people - basically holding people's dreams in a slush pile. I imagined them picking through each submission, one at a time, while looking out their high-rise office window at the cityscape, wrinkling their noses at every query letter they read and rejecting each query just because they didn't like the letterhead or the print or the name of the person submitting it - without ever reading any of the manuscript. Then off the unread manuscript would go, stuffed into the SASE and sent back to the writer with a generic rejection letter.
Okay, so I have a vivid imagination - that's what I do!
Today, however, things have changed immensely. Thanks to social media and websites, literary agents have become as human as the rest of us. They tweet on Twitter, they update their status on Facebook and they publish their picture on their website. Many today are women - young women even - which is wonderful. They have fresh, smiling faces which make you feel they are open to receiving your book query and happy to read it. Okay, maybe not always happy, but more so than I used to imagine. Many take e-mail submissions - actually insist on it - and their response time is quick. Compared to years ago, many agents actually encourage you to send out simultaneous submissions instead of one at a time. Times have definitely changed and while it still isn't easy to land an agent in this competitive field, they are making it easier at least to try.
2012 Guide to Literary Agents
Finding an Agent
Because I am in the midst of once again trying to find an agent to represent me, I decided it would be a good time to help those of you who are starting that process. I've added a Literary Agent page (see the top of the page) where I share some tips on how to query an agent and list agents and their websites so you can start working on submitting your new work. As of today, the page isn't complete, but I will continue to add agents to it as time allows. I hope this list of agents will help you find an agent to represent your book.