Your manuscript? Done.
Your editing? Finito.
Your beta readers? Exhausted.
The time has come. If traditional publishing is what you’re gunning for, then the next step on your climb to immortality is netting yourself an agent. Why? Because most publishing houses out there straight up reject unagented manuscripts. The fact is that the market is flooded with authors right now. Writing has never been more popular. This is both awesome (everyone is pursuing their dreams!) and somewhat detrimental (everyone is pursuing their dreams…) in terms of standing out from the crowd. Editors and publishers haven’t got the time to read through every person’s NaNoWriMo manuscript, especially those sent without any editing or proofreading. This is where your friendly, knowledgeable agent comes in – acting as the gatekeeper into the elusive club of mainstream publishing. They’ve got the contacts. They’ve got the know-how. All you’ve got to do is give them something that they’re going to love.
So how do you go about getting an agent? Well, you could spend hundreds of dollars and attend writer conferences all across the nation (which, don’t get me wrong, is a ton of fun. It’s just a little financially taxing…), or you could check out this website here:
This website is possibly the most helpful thing I’ve ever found when it comes to agents and figuring out how to interact with them. Not only does it have an exhaustive list of practicing agents and what their specialties are, it’s also got how-to guides for building query letters, emailing agents, safety tips (keep that manuscript safe, folks!), and tons of other resources. It’s almost criminally helpful and the amount I’ve learned about the agent selection process here dwarfs the amount I should have learned in my MFA program.