A lot of ParaYourNormal readers are also writers. So when Grammarly’s Nikolas Baron asked if he could do a guest post on finding an agent, a process which seems quasi-paranormal to me, I gave him an enthusiastic “yes!” Here it is…
First impressions, especially through emails, are crucial to setting the stage to getting an agent’s attention. Not only does the first line of your email need to grab the reader, but also it must excite him and compel him to read more. Even more importantly, the letter must be error free. If an agent receives a letter riddled with errors, they can almost certainly assume that the sample, chapter, or novel you’ve sent them is exactly the same. Nobody wants to spend his time wading his way through the errors you should have cleaned up in the first place. It also is extremely unprofessional to send an error-laden email asking for someone to represent you and help your work succeed when it seems as if you don’t take proofreading seriously. When contacting and searching for an agent, there are several steps that will help in the process and give you the best shot at making a good impression and hopefully, catching someone’s eye.
1) Proofreading, proofreading, and more proofreading: One of the first items on your list before even beginning the search for an agent is making sure your work and your letter are clean and error free. A writer with hopes to succeed continually proofreads and works on their errors. If there are a few mistakes, that isn’t as much of a deal. However, if there is an error on every single page, the agent will quickly throw your work into the recycling bin. They read quickly, looking for a piece of your work that strikes a chord. You’re only prohibiting them from accepting you by handing them something that isn’t your best. A way to proofread cheaply is to use an online resource. Grammarly is an amazing proofreading website that will help you clean up your manuscript or email. It also identifies your most common errors so you know to avoid them in the future. It’s basically like a free editor, so make sure to take advantage of it. Proofreading is key to presenting a professional, well-written front to an agent.
2) Pick up a copy of Writer’s Market: Writer’s Market is a writer’s best friend and can be bought on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle. It has contests, awards, publishers, magazines, and most importantly, agents. Tons of agents are listed in Writer’s Market with their contact information and the types of works they normally publish. If you write horror fiction, you can easily look through the pages to find an agent who loves to market and work with horror writers. This book could easily be your paper gold to finding an agent.
3) Find the right agent: Writer’s Market leads me to my next point: Make sure you find the right agent. It doesn’t look too good to be contacting a romance agent when you love to write mysteries. Agents want to know that, if you’re cold emailing them, you’ve done your work and you know that they love the genre you publish in. They want to know that you see them as a helpful resource and know that they have little time to be reading through emails that are not right for them. I once read an article that the average agent receives over 100 emails per day from inquiring writers. Some of those emails are from writers who just copy and paste the same email text into 100 emails to 100 different agents without bothering to do their homework. You want working with an agent to be a harmonious experience and not a nail in your coffin. Working with the perfect agent for you will ensure that both of you are positive and enthusiastic about your work and will help it to become successful.
There are many other factors when it comes to finding an agent, such as vicinity, personality, time, dedication, whether they’re accepting new writers, and much more. The critical piece of information is to contact agents only who are right for you and you work. The more passion there is behind the scenes, the more success your work is likely to have. You only waste your own time by contacting people who may not want to help you. Again, always proofread whatever you send to an agent; you want to place your best material before his eyes. Use your time wisely and find the agent who is willing to work with you and not for you.
About the Author:
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.