My YA novel, WORTH IT, debuts in 2024. Querying was stressful. But I think the approach I used is what helped me to land my publishing deal and I’d like to share it with other querying authors in this multipart series. If you haven’t yet finished your query, please check out Query Master Class with the Queery Helpline: Patrick Hopkins.
When I first started to prepare for querying, I Googled agents in my genre. Not the most effective strategy when so many helpful tools exist to make searching for agents so much easier.
Manuscript Wish List
MSWL is a hub where agents can share directly with querying authors the answer to this question, “What do I want to see in my inbox?” Here is a direct link to how to use Manuscript Wish List. Keep in mind that agents are busy and their MSWL may not always be up to date. Once you start creating a list of potential agents to query, it may be worthwhile to also check their websites.
You can also search for agents at Query Tracker, although their search feature isn’t as detailed as MSWL. What you’ll primarily use Query Tracker is to follow your submission packet in queried agents’ slushpiles. In real-time, you can see how far down your query is in your agent’s slushpile giving you an idea of when it might be read. You can also keep track of agents you’ve queried and their responses. There is a free version, but the premium is only $25.00 per year and well worth it.
Despite the controversy, and hopefully, it continues to be around, Twitter is one of the best places to find most agents’ up-to-date wish lists, and which ones are open to queries. Follow hashtags such as #MSWL #amquerying, #writingcommunity, #writersofTwitter.
Additionally, you can use Twitter’s advanced search page here and search for items such as:
- Titles of books, TV shows, and movies similar to your work (comps)
- Your genre, both written out (“young adult”) and abbreviated (“YA”)
- Tropes (especially for romance), like “friends to lovers”
- Names of historical figures (especially for historical fiction)
Once you start to narrow down agents you either plan to query or have queried, follow them on Twitter for real-time updates.
Publishers Marketplace is the largest platform dedicated to publishing professionals. This is where you can perform market research on the agents you plan to query. How many books have they sold, when, what genres, etc. To use this service, it will cost $25.00 a month. But you can save signing up until after you’ve created your agent list and research them all at the same time.
- Writing Podcasts: Following popular writing podcasts is a great way to hear what agents are looking for.
- Google – Yes there is a place for Google! Especially when searching for small presses. For more about small presses (which is where I’m publishing) check out Why You Should Include Small Presses in Your To-Query List
- Writing Communities: Such as FB groups, Twitter groups, etc. I actually found my small press through word of mouth in a writing group.
- Literary Agency Websites – Search for literary agencies in your genre and go directly to their websites to research their agents and wish lists.
While this might not be all of the resources that exist for finding agents and publishers, these were the ones that worked for me. If you have any to add, please comment below!
Coming Soon: Querying Part 2: Why You Should Query in Batches
You have all the tools you need. What you do with them is up to you.Cherie-Carter Scott
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