2012 Guide to Literary Agents Paperback – Sep 6 2011
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The listings are more helpful than I had anticipated. Sprinkled within the alphabetical-by-agency-name listings are "New Agent Spotlights" that highlight agents who might be hungry for new clients. I have found and been reminded of agents I plan to query, and there are a few listings for UK and Canadian agents as well.
It also includes an index by genre and the version I received includes a one year subscription to the FW online agent database (which I haven't yet used).
For those just starting out, I suggest cross-referencing agents you find in the book with the Absolute Write background forum. Search there by agent or agency name for not just potential warnings or conflicts of interest but also query/partial/full turnaround time anecdotes and the occasional new-client "Squee".
Then I would look the agent up on Agentquery to double-check submission guidelines/e-mail addresses for those who take e-queries, and to lead you to the agency website (if there is one) which often has submission guidelines in greater depth.
If the agent blogs or tweets, it never hurts to check their pages for something in common to personalize the beginning of your query letter.
As agents move between agencies and/or leave the business, listings will gradually fall out of date. This is another reason to check online before submitting.
The book also has conference listings. Conferences can be good avenues for learning from and pitching agents (and/or editors who are otherwise closed to unsolicited submissions). But they are not a substitute for learning to query, and query well and widely.
The front of the book includes great articles on how to write a query, how to write a nonfiction book proposal, the benefits of having an agent, the memoir market, copyright, agent and author perspectives, and more.
I thought "8 Ways to Write a Great Chapter One" by Elizabeth Sims was especially insightful for new and advanced writers alike.
Up until now I have been using online databases exclusively. I found, to my own surprise, that the book offers enough of a benefit in terms of organization, format and ease of use to be worth having on hand throughout the rigors of an agent search. The "recent sales" information alone is often difficult (or impossible) to find online (without perhaps paying for a subscription to Publisher's Marketplace).
If I'm still in the market for an agent, I will certainly buy a copy when my next MS is submission-ready.
Last weekend I attended the Hampton Roads Writers' Third Annual Writers' Conference in Virginia Beach, VA where Mr. Sambuchino facilitated an in-depth workshop entitled EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AGENTS. Don't feel too bad if you couldn't make it to this fantastic conference because, as an added bonus, the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents includes access to a FREE 60-minute webinar with Chuck Sambuchino, during which he will teach you "everything you need to know about agents."
Let's face it. Finishing your work is only half the battle. Reading this guide will put you ahead of the game and give you the tools you will need to be successful. Not only does this guide give a list of credible agents, it also breaks it down, step by step, on how to obtain one. It explains what an agent does, crafting a query, to writing a book proposal and much more. It is a great stepping stone on where to go once you have finished your manuscript.
What I particularly love about the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS is that it gives you the "Do's and Don'ts" of what a bad query/book proposal is, compared to what a great query/book proposal should look like. Instead of just telling you how to do it, it actually shows you. Sambuchino has collected a number of articles written by people who are the best in the business. Therefore, you are getting more than one person's opinion. That in itself is a gold mine.
In addition, it has an entire section that lists upcoming conferences. If you are a travel junkie like me, it is a wonderful place to start planning your next vacation.
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