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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Looking For The RIGHT Agent - A Tip To Increase Requests

Would you like to raise the percentage of requests your query reels in?

It might be as simple as rearching just a little more before hitting send. You can go:

BROAD- Query an agent who reps your category (young adult, middle grade, adult).

SPECIFIC-Query an agent who reps your genre (middle grade fantasy, contemporary young adult).

REALLY SPECIFIC-Query an agent who reps someone in your genre who has a similar style.

Let me clarify one thing—by “similar style,” I mean just that. Agents don’t want to rep the exact same plot written in the exact same voice—that’s the opposite of the “new and fresh” that many are looking for. I’m talking about going the distance (okay, or spending an extra thirty minutes on the internet) to see if they tend to represent humorous and heartwarming, lyrical and haunting, quirky and unique, commercial and high-concept (or all of those), and figuring out if your manuscript might be a match for their list.

Try this:

1. Think of a few books that you might use as a comparative title. If your book is edgy and written in verse, you might compare it to a Ellen Hopkins book. For the sake of this exercise, I picked her novel Identical.

2. Go to Amazon.com and type in those books.

3. Scroll down to see “Customers of this book also bought…” Usually those books have a similar style or plot point. Scary books will give you more scary books, fantasy will usually give you fantasy, edgy breeds edgy, etc.

4.
Make a list of the books and authors. When I typed in Identical, I got a bunch of other Ellen Hopkins books, but pressing the right arrow gave me more options. Four authors listed were: Patricia McCormick, Lisa McMann, Allison van Diepen, and Jay Asher.

5. Go to THIS AWESOME QUERYTRACKER TOOL to find out who represents the authors. If your author isn’t listed, you may have to do some Googling or move on to the next author on your list. My search gave me the agents Laura Rennert of Andrea Brown (reps Ellen H. and Jay Asher), Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich (reps Lisa McMann), and Ashley Grayson of Grayson Literary (reps A. van Diepen).

6. Check those agents and see if they're accepting submissions (and if you think they’d still be a fit). If you're submitting an edgy YA book, it's a good sign that these guys have repped something similar in style (not a twin version of an existing book), and there's decent reason to believe that yours may interest them too.

7. Please, please, please, make sure you’ve read the book they repped if you’re going to mention in a query!

By no means will this guarantee you a bunch of requests, but if you’ve polished that query and those first pages (okay, and preferably the entire manuscript as well) until they shine, I think your chances of getting page requests are better if you really look for an agent who you think is Ms./Mr. Right, not Ms./Mr. Right Now.

**Psssst~ this is kind of fun to do! I just tried typing in The Mysterious Benedict Society, and got a bunch of fun titles/authors to look into. I don't even write things like that, but it's kind of neat to see which agents represent your favorite authors.



See you on Friday!

38 comments:

  1. wow! that's a GREAT IDEA!!! jess, girl, you are brilliant! :)

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  2. Excellent tips, Jess! I've always wondered how to get to the "very specific" level.

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  3. Hi Jess. Great advice! A little extra research for more requests sounds like a fair trade-off.

    BTW, I have a BA in French Language & Literature, so I feel like we're soul sisters!

    -Vicki

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  4. It makes the most sense to go with someone who represents your specific genre, and all it takes is a little research. Thanks for sharing your excellent ideas! I hadn't thought of searching on Amazon!

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  5. Great advice! I especially love: "okay, or spending an extra thirty minutes on the internet."

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  6. I think it is also important not to send out out all your queries at once. Send some out and see what kind of response you're getting. I read somewhere that it is 1 in 20 queries that garner a response. If you aren't getting that. Tweak your query. Good post.

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  7. This is great stuff for those going to query soon! I'll go tweet...

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  8. That's brilliant! Yet another thing I need to copy from you...I really like your posts :)

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  9. That sounds like a FANTASTIC way to search! Good suggestions. :) I gotta try this.

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  10. Dude this is perfect I've spent all day playing around with this.

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  11. Wise beyond your years!

    Happy Presidents Pets Day - the day after Presidents Day, as I like to call it. In the US, we love our presidents..... pets. See my blog if you’re in the mood for a good ol' irreverent howl.

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  12. Fabulous idea! I know that they've also done the idea of going to a bookstore and looking up books like yours and checking the acknowldegements, nine times out of ten they thank their agents.

    This is much less time consuming though!

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  13. That's such a good idea! :) I'll have to try it next time I'm adding agents to my list.

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  14. This is great advice, and once again you've shown how creative you are. I hadn't thought of searching through Amazon for similar books, but it makes complete sense. Thanks for another great tip!

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  15. What great advice! I'll bookmark this for future reference.

    I have an award for you at my blog.

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  16. This is wonderful, hands-on stuff. I love the idea of using query tracker and amazon to focus your queries. Targeting is often the key. =)

    And my lie in my post for Challenge #1 is that we don't have a rabbit.

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  17. Ok, see! This is why I shout-out and bow down to your awesomeness. Great post! And so easy to do. Reading books your could-be agent reps is just a good idea no matter what. Thanks, Jess!

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  18. This is an excellent post as are your others. I'm bookmarking you because I didn't get a chance to finish reading. :)

    New follower and fellow crusader! Nice to meet you!

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  19. This is such a good post. I've been reading advice for a long time, but the idea of finding a book like mine on Amazon and seeing what else those customers bought is genius. Thanks!

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  20. Great post. Just a thought on Laura Rennert though. She's a great (dare I say super) agent. However, she's as tough as nails. I really like tough feedback, but this woman is hardcore. I did a workshop with her and some people actually avoided taking the elevator when she was in it.

    Yes. she's a great agent, but make sure you are a match for her style.

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  21. Michael~ I tried to email you, but you don't have a profile attached to your name.

    I met Laura Rennert at a conference and had a great experience with her. She's tough, sure, but look at her client list. I approached her and Kristin Nelson (twice) during the social time too, and they were both super nice. When I submitted my partial from the pitch session I had with her, she responded the next day asking for a full. She eventually rejected, but I found her to be friendly. I'm a little intimidated by agents in general, but my experience with her was very good. I just tried to remember that she's a Mom and a picture book writer as well as an agent :)

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  22. Querytracker has been a valuable tool during this journey. I'd be lost without it!

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  23. Hi Jess! Just wanted to pop back over and let you know you were the only one to guess my secret on the Crusade Challenge post. I've seen you around some of the other Crusade blogs using your Jedi powers on them as well, so I'm not offended. You're very sneaky! :0)

    EJ

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  24. What great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

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  25. A lot of great information in your post. Thanks for the info and the linkage. It is all wonderful!

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  26. Good call on this one! The more legwork we do before hitting 'send', the greater the chances are we'll get requests!

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  27. I'm glad you pointed that out! I've been querying with Query Tracker, but I haven't used the rep tool. Must give that a try! I swear, every day I find another cool new feature on query tracker. Or, in this case, someone else finds it and points it out.

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  28. these are great tips! thanks for the detail about the rep tool!

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  29. I'm been doing these things. They've made a huge difference in my request rate. :)

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  30. Hey, just hopped over from Buffy's blog. Nice to meet you.

    Research during the query process is vital. Some folks like to just query, sending out a ton of them. That works for them. It just doesn't work for me. I've recently started the querying process and have found my research has paid off. Out of 12, 8 requested. No signings yet, but great interest and I did receive valuable advice.

    Enjoy your weekend.

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  31. It's true that this gives you a huge jump. Agents like to see you've done your research, and it makes sense. They want to feel special, and you want to find an agent that's special to you as well. If you love a book they've repped, all the better.

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  32. You are awesome! I'm just in the research phase now, can't tell you how handy this is! Thank you!

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  33. I would be supportive on all of your articles and blogs because they are just upto the mark.
    Top 10 Agents - Tallahassee

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