10 Minute Mentor: Organizing Your Agent Hunt

7 Jun

I’m refresthing this from the agent series because so many people asked for agent search info for the 10 Minute Mentor Series 🙂 

I’m very visual – I need a logical way to look at information or it might as well be street graffiti. At first everyone laughed at me, but now they’ve started asking for the Bria Agent Search Spreadsheets for themselves (maybe I should start charging!)

I won’t lie. It is time consuming in the front-end. But later, when the querying begins, it will keep you on track and organized. Another plus à it will stop your focus from drifting to time wasting (and embarrassing) querying of agents who don’t rep what you write.

So, breaking this down in very easy steps, here we go:

Step 1 – Decide what you write.

My main passion and focus is YA Fantasy, but I also have ideas for a RomCom and a historical (which may be YA, Women’s Lit, or Romance – depending on who you ask) so my focus groups are: Fantasy, YA, Romance, and ChickLit. You’ll have your own, but we’ll stick with mine for these examples.

Step 2 – Create an Excel Spreadsheet

This is very easy if you’ve never done it before. Open it up and then save it as “Agent Search.”

Across the top create a column for each of the following: Agent Name, Agency, Solicit?, Email, YA, Fantasy, Rom, ChLit, RWA, P&E, Exp, TOTAL, Authors, Notes

Step 3 – Link to: http://www.agentquery.com/search_advanced.aspx

In place of my genres, put all your writing genres

Step 4 – List Creation: This is the longest part. Cut and paste each page into your spreadsheet and then line up the information with columns. Put an “1” under each genre the agent reps. You may want to consider weighting one genre heavier than others – for example, my future agent MUST rep YA, so that column gets a “2” instead of a “1.”

Step 5 – The remaining columns are weighted columns

So you may have notice that you still have RWA, P&E, Exp, and TOTAL, left.


RWA (Romance Writers of America)
is a very reputable group. Whether you write romance or not, you should consider joining. The group is highly focused on Craft and many agents have said they can often tell a person is an RWA member from their clean manuscript and professional queries.

If the agency/agent is RWA certified, add another “1”

P&E (Predators and Editors) as another amazing resource. They list everyone in the industry they’re aware of. If they give an agency/agent a “highly recommends” add a “2” – a “recommends” add a “1” —— they’ll also let you know if they “highly don’t recommend (“-2”), “don’t recommend” (“-1”), or if they are listed on “Writer Beware” (“-3”)

Exp stands for “Experience.” The longer you are in the publishing circle as an unpublished person, the more opportunities you’ll get to interact at conferences and workshops with agents. You’ll also meet some wonderful people who are already represented or have met agents (note: make sure these people are 100% reliable in your book and not just out to bash or praise to feel “in the know”).

Personally, I looked at blogs, talk to other writers, read articles, followed people on twitter. One of my top 10 agents (for book 1) was bumped off my list completely because of her attitude toward her clients and potential clients on her blog. You want to know this ahead of time. Use the same rating system as P&E.

TOTAL – create a sum total column for each row and then sort by the TOTAL column.

The last two columns are just as important. You should always be familiar with the authors an agent already reps. It lets you know what they like and where they succeed. Also, it allows you to ‘sell’ yourself better

The Notes column should be for things like industry updates, reminders about appearances (online and in person) you’d like to attend, site updates (agents sometimes stop taking queries for a short time), contests they’re judging, etc.

Then, on QueryTracker.net sort the agents into folders. I did them as Top 20, 1.5, 2.5, etc Sent, Rejected, Requested.

All this information comes together on one page to let you judge and weigh the agents to see if they’re a potential fit and if you’re a good fit for them. Don’t forget, this is a business decision…not just for them, but for you as well!

Starting this organized with this much info up front is a great step in running your writing career as just that – a CAREER.

ETA: Anyone who sends me your email or requests it in the comments — I’ll email you the blank Agent Search Template page

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7 Responses to “10 Minute Mentor: Organizing Your Agent Hunt”

  1. Katrina Williams June 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    I am an organized person and yet your approach to finding an agent is brilliant. I would have never thought about half this stuff and I am really grateful for the time you spend (over and over again) getting this information out to those of us who are not there yet. You rock!

  2. briaq June 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Awww thanks – I honestsly feel like there’s so much I wish someone had just TOLD me. Like 10 mins and we’re done here sort of stuff. I really hope people are seeing stuff they would like to know.

    Also, someone asked off blog about knowing when to query – I’m wondering if that’s a whole 10 Min Mentor blog post… Hmmmm

  3. Kimberly Farris June 8, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    I’m so glad I took the time to set up my agent spreadsheet like this. It’s so easy to make changes. This spreadsheet definitely turned me into a spreadsheet junky. Now I’m trying to turn the kids onto using spreadsheets.

    I agree with Katrina, You Rock! Thanks for sharing your insights.

  4. briaq June 8, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    Thanks Kimberly – I’m glad you’re finding it helpful

    ALSO – ANYONE WHO SENDS ME YOUR EMAIL WITH A REQUEST FOR THE AGENT SEARCH TEMPLATE – I’LL EMAIL YOU THE BLANK SPREADSHEET

  5. Wrym_n_Reason June 8, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    I’m interested in a copy please. Thanks.

  6. Peach June 8, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    I’d love a copy, and thanks. Great post. I am really enjoying this series.

  7. briaq June 8, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Great – I’ve sent it to both of you – Good luck! Thanks for checking out the blog 🙂

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