So you’ve finished your novel, and think it’s ready to go. Of course you know that self-publishing is an option, but for your particular work you’d like to get it into the hands of an agent or a smaller press. How do you go about finding someone to publish it?
1. Get a copy of the 2017 Writer’s Market. This will help you locate people or presses interested in your particular genre. If you write Young Adult fiction and approach a publisher or agent who only handles horror, you’re wasting your time. It’s like offering a steak to a vegan. No dice.
2. You can also get a copy of the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents if you don’t want to consider a smaller press. A large press is harder to pitch an unpublished writer to, so you must have an agent for representation. This book is an expansive guide to exactly which agents are looking for what. The same rule applies in that you must spend time looking for only those agents who represent your kind of work.
3. Go to a writer’s conference. There are great conferences all over the country that offer a short meeting with an agent as part of the conference fee. Even if you don’t gain representation, writer’s conferences are gold mines of information for writers in all stages of their work. The best writer’s conference I’ve been to is the DFW Writer’s Conference in Dallas, Texas. I have never walked away from that conference empty handed–I always learn valuable tips for writing and publishing. http://dfwcon.org/
4.Think about who you know. If you are an unpublished writer, the key is to get published somewhere, even if you don’t get paid at first. The longer your resume is, the more impressed a jaded agent will be. Some places to consider are local magazines and newspapers and contests. One of the very first places I published was an editorial for my local paper in Arkansas. That gave me the courage to submit a short story to my college’s literary arts journal. A while later, I revamped the story and submitted it to Chicken Soup for the Soul where they accepted it for publication. Having a story published in a nationally known brand like Chicken Soup really helped increase my credibility as a writer, and it helped when I approached big agents to at least look at my work. That’s what we are hoping for at first right? Just to get that “Ok, send it to me,” from the agent or editor of our choice. Getting your work in the hands of an agent is the very first step to approaching a book deal.