Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chapter Four: Starting the Search

In today’s publishing world, finding a literary agent to represent my Young Adult Mystery is my first step toward getting it into print. Most publishing houses read only agented material so I’m wasting my time approaching them directly. An agent, familiar with the needs of various publishing houses, is the intermediary who weeds out submissions and forwards the most promising to appropriate publishers. Sounds simple except for the part about actually finding an agent. Since I wasn’t successful the last time I tried, I’m hoping for a better outcome.

I think every how-to article I’ve ever read says the easiest way to get an agent is through a referral from a successful author. Suffice it to say if J.K. Rowling was my BF, I wouldn’t be going through this process. Since she’s not, I’m on my own.

I’ve finished my manuscript and edited it within an inch of its life so I’m “starting the search.” If your manuscript is completely or partially finished, you need to start looking too. It’s a long, laborious procedure that takes a lot of research.

From the beginning of this process, I want to make certain I’m dealing with a reputable agent. One way I check is by reading his/her professional information in agent guide books or in agent lists on the internet. Affiliation with the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) is noted in the write-up. Belonging to AAR is important because its ethics code prohibits members from charging for services such as reading fees. Last time around, an agency offered to represent me. Turned out the agency only considered manuscripts that had been professionally edited. Guess what? They were primed to hook me up with an editor whose fee was considerable. Since I’d heard about fee-charging scams, I was wary.

To verify my suspicion, I went to the quick and easy to use online site of Preditors and Editors. On their home page, I clicked on Agents and then clicked on the first letter in the agency’s name. (Note agents and agencies are alphabetized by first name, not last name.) In a few seconds, I found a listing for my would-be scammer with the comment “Conflict of interest. Not recommended.” End of exchange between me and that agency. Agents earn their money from commissions from selling books to publishers, not squeezing fees out of their writers or getting kickbacks for arranging questionable services. If an agent/agency asks for money upfront, move on!

As I locate agents who represent Young Adult fiction, I’m going to double-check their reputations before I submit my queries. Then if an agent shows interest in my novel, I can proceed with reasonable assurance that the agent’s goal is to get me published, not rip me off with unscrupulous fees.

Let’s get published!

1 comment:

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh! you were wise! Any reputable agent will not do that, or charge money, or any other thing like that.

I decided not to go the agent route, but instead find a small press. I may consider an agent later, but I do love my publisher - they pay a small advance, but the royalties are industry standard. And, they are southern women - I love them!

Good luck on your journey!