Many Agents Do Not Accept Unsolicited Material
In the fiction area of the book-agenting arena, other than some agents/agencies now requesting or requiring submissions via E-mail, the rules for presenting preliminary material have not changed appreciably in the past 15 to 20 years. What has changed is the number of agents who no longer accept unsolicited material or work that has not been referred by someone with whom that agent has a business relationship, such as a respected colleague, writer, or editor.
To Succeed in Finding an Agent, Create and Follow a Plan
But while the submission guidelines are still relatively unchanged depending on the agent: one-page query; query with five pages; query, synopsis, five pages; query, synopsis, first three chapters, etc., breaking through is more difficult than ever. A writer can save a great deal of time, aggravation, and expense by creating and following a plan that enables the potential for agent review to be in the author’s favor from the outset.
Identity the Sub-Genre in which your Manuscript is Written
First, it is critical for a writer to recognize in which sub-genre his/her work fits. For example, depending on who you talk to, there are now more than two dozen subsets in the Suspense category, alone. Source agents who have found publishers for works in the sub-genre in which your manuscript is written. The AAR web site is a great place to start, and another excellent free site is agentquery.com.
Query Agents who Represent Authors your Style Emulates
Another option, if your story is written in the style of a well-known author, is to check the Acknowledgments page of a book by that writer, for his or her agent. Query this agent–even if the person professes not to accept unsolicited material. The worst that can happen is a rejection. But you might receive a request to see a portion of your novel, and there is a solid reason why:
Agents work in Genres in which they are Successful
People are generally most comfortable with what they know. Agents are no different. And don’t worry about being told because an agent handles a book in a like genre that this person would not be interested in a competing project. Familiarity, in this instance, is most often an asset and not a liability. Agents want books they feel they can sell, and will gravitate toward genres in which they have positive history.
Robert L. Bacon is the Founder of The Perfect Write(TM) theperfectwrite.com
For authors, The Perfect Write™ is now providing FREE QUERY LETTER REVIEW AND ANALYSIS. Post your query to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org(no attachments) and visit the Sample Letters Page for examples of successful query letters.