"There is a passion for hunting something deeply planted in the human breast."
~ Charles Dickens
(I apologize in for the lack of formatting. For some reason, my spaces between paragraphs did not come through.)
Odd for me to be posting here on a Tuesday, I know. But I wanted to share with you some very good information I have discovered in the past week. As most of you know, I'm in the "actively seeking agent" stage of my writing career. How long has it taken me to get here? Do you really want to know? Considering I started writing stories when I could simultaneously grasp pen and language, I'd say it's been a couple of decades. I've been writing seriously for fourteen years. I had one...two...three books under my belt by the age of twenty five. Trust me when I say they shall never see the light of day! I'm considering burying them in a personal time capsule only to be dug up upon the occasion of my death. About that time, I started toying with the idea of my current young adult fantasy series. I started, I stopped, I created worlds, I messed with character's lives! Then...then....then I found my story. On again, off again I worked on the beginning of a story that got more and more complicated as it progressed. There were weeks I didn't, couldn't write. There were days when the words flew off my fingers so fast I could barely keep up. Five years later, I have a completed trilogy, the first installment of a young adult fantasy adventure steeped heavily in ancient mythology.
That was the easy part. I finished editing back in July and for four months I've sat on it. Call it fear, loathing, extreme aggravation at a gaggle of characters who think they know their story better than I do. I, their creator! (um...right...) Inspiration was slow to come but it has finally won over fear, self doubt, threats issued by anonymous characters. The agent hunt is on, and boy oh boy is it a battle.
That being said, I have found two resources that are making my hunt easier than I could have hoped. If you are already aware of and utilizing their services, forgive my posting the obvious. You are free to roam the blogsphere at your leisure starting ... now! If you are, however, as I was, oblivious to the fact these two resources were out there, then read on pilgrim.
The blog Guide to Literary Agents has been on my blog roll for some time and I would casually glance at the articles, read up on ways to impress (or distress) a prospective agent, and ooh and ahh over the newly acquired author. What I didn't realize, until last Wednesday, was that they possess a data base chock full of agents, both new and seasoned! If you follow their blog, you'll see that once a week, they post a New Agent listing. It tells what they are seeking and how best to contact them. I went to the index on the right and scrolled down to the genre in which I right, clicked on it, and perused all the articles that talked about young adult agents. My list grew and grew until I had three pages (handwritten) of agents who I intend to further research online. Note: even though Guide to Literary Agents is current on their information, I would still go to the agent's website and get the pertinent information from there. When it comes to the future of your manuscript, it pays to do the extra leg work. Chuck Sambuchino has done a wonderful job of gathering as much information as an author can stand on the subjects of agents, query letters, and the dreaded synopsis. I highly recommend spending as much time as you need to gather the priceless information this site has.
My second ah-ha site has become Query Tracker. Their blog updates regularly and has great posts on the craft of writing, contests and a weekly Publishing Pulse which lists the recent goings on in the world o' publishing. Their website is the main site I want you to be aware of. Sign up (it's free!!!) and receive a monthly newsletter with info on the publishing world as well as agent listings. You can access their website without a free account. The site has a database which allows you to search for genre specific agents and agencies. I was able to ask it to search for "young adult" and "fantasy" and it brought up 65 listings. Granted, I will be looking them up online to check out their submission guidelines, etc. but this is a great first step to finding the agents that represent what you right.
I'm not posting this to hurry you. Hunting takes time, patience, resilience, and thick skin. It also requires that your manuscript be as ready as humanly possible. Once it's there, once you're absolutely (or at least 98% certain) it's as perfect as you can make it, take a breather. Go cycling, kayaking, spelunking. Then come back to it, give it one last read, take a deep breath and write that query. There's some excellent info on query writing on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. Some of the best advice I've received for this stage of the writing journey was from Karen at Following the Whispers: "Take the action; let go of the result". So hard, but so very necessary. I'll add this: "Do your best, then let 'er fly!"