The Submission Mission: AGENTS
Written by
Anna Leahy
September 2011
Written by
Anna Leahy
September 2011

I’ve finished a yearlong revision of my novel manuscript, a task I thought would take two months. Now I’m ready to query agents. But as a poet, I’m not as familiar with the publishing process for a novel and how exactly to woo the best agent for me. I’ve done some research, so I know that securing an agent is only a step in the process, not the goal. I’ve heard stories from both agents and authors about relationships gone awry. I’ve heard success stories too. I wanted to discuss the topic, especially the basics, with other She Writers.


So the She Writes live chat at the beginning of September focused on publishing issues, particularly agents and self-publishing. Out of that conversation and other things bandied about at She Writes, here are some links related to this daunting topic of AGENTS. (Links on self-publishing coming soon.)


The pitch is really, really hard. I know that from experience. It’s also really important. Tayari Jones got her book summary down to 21 seconds. She writes about how to talk about your book here:


I just can’t get enough of the info direct from the agent’s mouth. Sometimes, agents say the same sorts of things, but sometimes they don’t. Hearing things more than once is as important as gathering new perspectives. Here’s a She Writes interview with an agent:


If you have an agent’s name, how do you find contact info or quick answers to basic questions? Here’s a good online guide to agents and related issues:


Sometimes, I don’t even know that I have a question until I see it answered. Poets & Writers has a blog that covers all things agent:


Here’s an article by agent Betsy Lerner about how to approach an agent and how the agent approaches a manuscript. It’s subscriber-only content from The Writer, but even the first three public paragraphs can give you a way to make a serious judgment about your manuscript:


Don’t forget that Writer’s Digest prints an annual guide to literary agents, which may provide a way to focus and browse that isn’t easy to do with an internet search:


Everybody in the biz refers to Publisher’s Marketplace, where all the publishing news is gathered. For $20/month, you get weekday updates, access to a database, and more. It’s pricey, but if you’re getting serious with a manuscript, it’s the most comprehensive insider information source:


Okay, all you She Writers with a novel or nonfiction book manuscript, do some research and get those queries and samples out there for someone else to judge!

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  • Tania Pryputniewicz

    Thanks Anna, for this "beginner's guide to agents" link resource for those of us just learning...