Ah, so now you’re ready to query an agent. Congratulations! So, what’s the next step?
Blast querying! No. Finding the appropriate agent.
Start by knowing the genre of your book. YA is a category, not a genre. Is it thriller? Horror? Mystery? Fantasy? Science fiction? Then move on to the next step.
Choose an agent who fits your genre.
You will never get a request if you’re querying agents who don’t represent your genre. Usually it’s because either they don’t like the genre, or they don’t want to represent the genre. Or that’s just not the direction the agency is going.
Someone who solely represents nonfiction won’t have the same ties with someone who represents fantasy. Someone who loves children’s picture books or MG at the oldest probably won’t know a whole lot about New Adult erotica markets.
Just don’t do it. You’re wasting their time and yours.
Choose an agent who represents your book’s category/age group.
Even if Dream Agent represents fantasy, if s/he doesn’t represent YA and you’ve written a YA, then this agent is not right for this book.
Thoroughly research the potential agent’s tastes.
They represent your genre and age group, but are your elements the ones they enjoy? Not all agents who represent fantasy care for vampires and werewolves.
Note: if your book is a romance and you write romance and thriller and YA fantasy, don’t worry about finding an agent who represents them all. Query agents who represent this book’s genre and discuss the rest during The Call. Many agents have a plan to help your future books find a home.
If you research thoroughly, you may find stories of people who were in your shoes.
Visit the agent’s twitter, blog, website and agency website.
They’re going to google you to see if they like whatever comes up. You should do the same. This also gives you a better insight as to their tastes, response times and personality.
How many sales in your genre/category does this person have?
Unless they’re new, it speaks volumes.
Let’s say an agent represents women’s fiction and middle grade. You’ve written an MG, but less than 1% of his/her sales are in MG. Do you think this is the perfect agent for you? This agent very well may be, but these stats tell you a few things.
Either the agent doesn’t take on a whole lot of middle grade, or the agent hasn’t been as successful in selling MG. Or maybe the agent is now establishing him/herself in MG. Or the wonderful agent doesn’t normally represent MG, but will for his/her established clients.
Query if you like, but you should only query people you REALLY think would be a good fit.
Whatever the case may be, do yourself a favor—find someone who knows the market well for the book you’re querying.
Which books/authors do they represent?
Have you read any of the stories? How do yours compare?
Now that you’ve got a list of agents you want to query, it’s time to weed out appropriate agents.