Trying to find a literary agent?

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned I would be talking about the agenting (yup, pretty sure I made up this word) process today! As a girl who likes to keep her promises, that’s exactly what Ill be covering today.

It was 2016 when I began my writing career. I’ve been writing books since I was at least eight years old; I still remember that story I wrote about my favorite stuffed animal when I was in second grade. I should probably find it. It’s probably got a basis in there for my next bestseller. Anyway, my professional dip into writing came in 2016 when I published my first book, Sin in Suburbia.

I had always had dreams of becoming traditionally published, but that was before I knew self-publishing was a thing. After writing Sin in Suburbia, I decided to reach out to one of my favorite people, BB Easton, who I had met through the online community on bookstagram. I had a couple questions about how to publish a book. She suggested self-publishing and gave me pointers on how to do it, as well as, gave me all kinds of great advice and encouragement. I will forever be grateful to her for answering my email.

Not long after, I had everything set up and hit publish. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve since self-published the rest of The Brookston Housewives Series: Secrets on Sapphire and Skeletons Amongst Sycamores and an Amazon Top 100 in Ghost Suspense Bestseller: My Girl. There have been a few novellas sprinkled onto the list as well.

I am so proud of these books and always will be, but after five years of self-publishing and blogging and taking time off for much needed ‘me time’, I still felt that itch. My dream to be traditionally published was a dream that still existed. It was an itch that needed to be scratched. So, after much thought and consideration, I decided I was going to retire S. Cole (my self-published pen name) and chase after my dream of becoming traditionally published. I would hate myself if I didn’t try. So, here I am, as Shay Apple, running after the dream.

Becoming traditionally published is not an easy feat. It’s a long process and arduous effort and you’ve got to have a good amount of patience and faith that all will work out in due timing if you’re going to take this path. After researching the process and sticking myself in the middle of it, I’ve learned a lot about how it works. I’m definitely no expert, but I think I’ve got the steps down.

Do you want to become traditionally published? Here are the steps:

Write the damn book. You can’t do anything without this very important first step. A lot of people dream of writing a book and seeing it published. However, this can’t happen if you don’t take the time to sit down and write the thing. This is the hardest part. You can do it!

Craft together a query letter. Might do a separate post on this, but in the meantime, there are a ton of resources online to find out how to put together this pesky little thing.

Research agents. You have to find agents who are looking for YOUR BOOK. You can’t send a query letter to an agent who is searching for children’s books if you wrote an adult horror novel. I mean, you can, but I can almost guarantee they won’t offer representation.

Make a list of agents you want to query. After you’ve researched, make a list of who you want to send your query out to. My list right now has over 100 agents on it . . . it seems like a lot, but it’s not. At least to me, it isn’t. I’ve got my list in an Excel spreadsheet and I keep tabs on who I’ve queried, when I queried them and when their expected response is, and then whether it was an accept (for a full or partial) or a pass. You’ll want to make a list and organize it in a way that is most beneficial for you.

Send out the queries! There are a lot of sources that have differing ideas of whether you blast to all of the agents on your list or send them out in batches. As a writer who has over 100 agents on her query list, I prefer to send out in batches. With my current manuscript, it actually worked in my favor to do it this way. I sent out a few and waited to see what the response was. Some of those first few requested fulls or partials, but then ultimately passed. I sent a few more out and received much of the same response. This told me that my query was working, but something with my manuscript was not. After getting some feedback on my work, I completely changed the first fifty pages of my manuscript. I sent out new queries to my second batch and got more full requests. I had a couple revise and resubmit and I looked at my opening pages again. I added in two new chapters, reworking the manuscript and resubmitted. So, you see, sending out batches worked in my favor and helped me make my manuscript even better. Now, you don’t want to query until your manuscript is in pristine condition. I thought mine was. I was ready to query. However, through this process, I learned where things needed to be switched around. Had I sent out my query to every single agent on my list, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make any changes. I could have made them, sure, but my list would have been depleted and I would have had no new agents to query.

Wait for a response. If writing the manuscript is the hardest part, this step is next in line. Some agents are super quick in their response times and others are a bit longer. You aren’t the only one querying them. They get tons of queries every day. So, as I mentioned before, patience is a key in this process. The average response time I find is 6-8 weeks, with some falling a little below or above that timeframe. I typically give about three months before I CNR (closed; no response) a query and move on. Be sure to read their bios and research online because some agents are okay with you sending them a little, polite nudge. I’ve done this a few times and I either get a quick, kind reply back or none at all. If I don’t get one at all, I’m right where I was before I sent the nudge, so, no harm, no foul. However, I, personally, will not send a nudge if I don’t find that they ask for it somewhere online.

This is just the beginning steps on how to become traditionally published, but these are my steps to the agenting process. I hope this helps!

What do we think? Should we do more writing process posts? Share your thoughts and/or questions in the comments below!

That’s all for now, Poison Apples!

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