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When to find an agent

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Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:42 pm
Carlito says...

This summer I've been working really hard on my first novel, Purple. I really want to try and publish it. I'm currently working on the second draft. Once I get done with this I'm going to let someone else read it and then work on the third draft. I know someone that's an editor so I'm thinking of asking her to look it over too maybe after the third draft is done.

What I'm really wondering, is when should I start sending out query letters to agents? Should I wait until I've "finished" my manuscript and I'm 100% satisfied with it or should I start looking now? Will they care if my novel isn't "perfect" yet or are they more concerned with having something finished to work with?

Also, what is the best way to find agents? I know I'll need to send out a lot of letters and I'm going to get a lot of rejections, but where do I get the names and addresses of the agents in the first place?

Thank you for your help and if there's anything big I'm leaving out and should probably know, please share! :)

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Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:58 pm
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Rosendorn says...

Remember— agents are looking for something to sell. That something is usually a perfect novel that can be submitted to editors and have a chance at being published. With that in mind, making it as publishable as possible is a very good idea.

When it comes to looking for agents, I'd look into The Writer's Market, and the most recent edition of the volume. It's pricy, but it gives a ton of publishing companies (so you know what they'd be looking for, which makes an agent's job easier) and (if memory serves) a ton of agents. And they're all reputable.

I would also take a look at these websites for some tips on publishing.
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Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:25 pm
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PhoenixBishop says...

As Rosey said, it needs to be as close to perfect as possible, but you can start looking for agents now. Do extensive research into the agents you wish to send you letters to and write up your query letters ahead of time. Query letters are the initial selling point, and they must be perfect. Because of the fact, it’s a good idea to make several drafts of each letter. In fact, it will probably have more drafts than the actual novel. That being said, you should start them now, so that when your novel reaches the point where you think it is marketable, then you already have your letters drafted.

And, yes Writers Market is your best bet. Agents are kind of picky, and they have a right to be. Hundreds of letters come to them each day, and they have to cut down the fat somehow. To do this each usually has guidelines; must be emailed with first five pages of manuscript (another reason your book should be at tip top shape; especially the first chapters, must be snail mailed. Then some have restrictions, such as; no unpublished authors, no science fiction, no young adult, etc. If you go outside of these guidelines you won’t be even looked at.
Writers Market, along with other books and websites show their guidelines and may even say what the specific agent is looking for. Using this method you can pin point agents in your genre field, writing style, etc. If you do that, you will greatly enhance your chances of the agent being interested.
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