Agent Searching or the Alternative, Part 1

Realtors are eager for listings, but their passion fades quickly. If the house does not sell within the first three weeks, the agent will relegate it to their B-List.

This is reasonable because real estate agents are in business to make money.

Literary agents, by contrast, won’t take on a manuscript unless they are nearly positive they can sell it to a specific buyer.

Which explains why agents say “no” often.

A “no” from a literary agent is not necessarily a comment on the quality of the manuscript as it is on whether the agent considers it a quick and easy sale. So if the work of your heart is about camels and the “in” theme next year is likely to be dromedaries the answer will be a polite form rejection.

This is reasonable because literary agents are in business to make money.

But we authors, whether traditionally published or indie published also wish to make money from our time and labor. So it behooves us (How often do you get a chance to use that in a sentence? Woot, woot!) to think about how we are using that time.

Over the past six months, I’ve devoted at least one hundred hours to an agent search.

This includes finding appropriate agents, sending each one a query letter in the form and manner they prefer, and reading their responses. Sending out more queries, tracking which agents responded and which are still silent. Going to agency websites to find out what their response time-frames are, and whether they allow sending a follow up query to a second agent in their group if the first rejects. Sending a second query if its allowed and noting on my spreadsheet if it isn’t. Calendaring those response timeframes and updating my spreadsheet with them and sending reminder queries to agents who asked for full copies of my manuscript.

Note, I do not include time required to calm down after a request for a partial or full manuscript, or time required to find ice cream after each rejection. Probably another hundred hours, not to mention calories.

And all this, my friends, is to see if I can find not a publisher, but an agent. Because most large publishing houses will not speak directly to authors. They only speak to agents.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. Wednesday is generally book review day. Unless it isn’t. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.