Last summer, I conducted a workshop designed to help writers find a literary agent. Most of the workshop was centered on the strategies that I used when finding my own agent.
If you’re curious, I wrote about the path that I took to finding my agent a couple years ago. It’s important to note that my path included a start in the slush pile and did not rely upon any connections in the publishing industry.
For those of you still looking for an agent and feeling like it will never happen, take heart! It can be done!
One of the pieces of advice that I give to writers in search of an agent is to do your homework. Thanks to the Internet. a writer can find out a great deal about the agents to whom they are querying, and this information is invaluable when choosing a specific agent at an agency, as well as crafting a query letter that targets that agent. I refer to this as “stalking the agent”, and that descriptor isn’t far from the truth.
Knowing as much as you can about an agent before initiating a communication with him or her can make all the difference, and in some cases, it can actually open from previously sealed doors.
Ralph White is a writer who attended my workshop last summer, and he has taken this advice to heart. He recently wrote to me:
Still slogging away trying to find an agent for Riding the Tiger (formerly Asian Gold). It’s with Miriam Goderich, of Dystel & Goderich now, awaiting a response. I followed your prescription and discovered that she received both her undergrad and graduate degrees from Columbia, where I run a critique group. I invited her to speak to our group and she accepted. In the course of her talk, she invited any of the twenty of us who had completed manuscripts to submit them to her.
Ralph is still awaiting a reply, but I couldn’t be more impressed with his creativity, inventiveness and willingness to go the extra mile. I have not read Ralph’s manuscript, but if it is good (and I suspect that it might be), he will eventually find an agent to represent him, even if Miriam Goderich ultimately passes.
You can’t keep a creative, persistent, grab-the-bull-by-the-horn kind of guy like Ralph down forever.