I do understand the rush and the panic that many new authors feel. They have just typed the words THE END on that manuscript and announce to their writing chapter they are finished. The chapter applauds the great work of the author and then immediately bombard the author with the pressure of "getting published." Suddenly now, everyone in the room has an opinion and becomes an expert. Go ahead and listen but do not act! Wait and do your homework.
If you are someone getting ready to find that agent to represent your work, you need to stop and consider yourself as a writer and an individual. This is crucial because it will shape your search for that right agent. Some things to consider might be:
- How much do I know about the business?
- Do I need a lot of hand-holding through my writing?
- What type of writing do I do? Series? Single title? (and yes, obviously the genre).
- Do I like to be the big fish in the small pond or the small fish in the big pond?
- Am I an independent or a dependent writer? In other words, do I need to finish the entire project first before I get feedback, or do I need feedback throughout?
Now that you have created a profile of your own needs and goals, it is time to start through that list of agent. Start obviously with making a list of the agents who represent your writing. This is one of those "no-duh" statements. You are not going to create your list of agents who just acquire everything - be clear they represent exactly what you write.
The next step is to narrow that list down. You found people who represent, say romance. But what about the agents specifics. In the case of Greyhaus Literary Agency, yes, I represent romance, but I don't represent erotica or fantasy (and yes there are a couple of others as well). Focus also on the things the person likes or doesn't like. Again, in the case of Greyhaus, I love historical, but I am pretty picky about historicals since I already have some really strong authors in that genre. The goal here is to find that niche.
Once you have narrowed that list down, it is time to start researching their personalities and their approaches. This is where it might get a little tough and it might take some time. Is this person working at a larger agency so they are just a "sub-agent" or is this person the head honcho at the agency? How does this agent approach business. Are they aggressive with editors or are do they take the nice approach when negotiating?
Look also at their likes and dislikes for genres. In other words, what type of story do they really like to read and to represent.
The idea on these last areas is to match their interests with your interests. Sure many would think they want the agent who will make the room tremble when they walk into a room, but is that really the right fit for you and your writing?
The point is simple. Take your time and find the perfect person to work with you.