The most common method for a writer to find an agent is by sending out a query letter. It’s a one-page letter–probably about 30 seconds reading time–in which you tell the agent about your project: what kind of a novel (adventure, thriller, romance, etc.) it is, how long it is, and what it’s about.
And when you tell the agent what it’s about, you’ve got to be able to do that in one paragraph. Yes, one paragraph. Agents are busy–overworked–and if you can’t describe your book’s overarching story in two or three sentences, you’re dead. You’ve failed your audition.
Also in the letter, you tell the agent a little bit about yourself, primarily your background as a writer. Further, you explain why you chose the agent (this particular agent) as a candidate to represent your book.
If the agent is interested in your novel, he or she will get back to you–and even with email, this may take a matter of weeks–and let you know. Quite frankly, most of the time they won’t be interested. Top agents get several hundred queries a week, so they have to be extremely selective in the manuscripts they choose to evaluate further.
If an agent is intrigued by your project, a “partial”–maybe 50 pages of your manuscript– will be requested. If it passes muster–and this may take several weeks again–the entire manuscript will be asked for.
If this happens, the agent will usually want an “exclusive,” a period of time, about a month or so, in which you, the author, agree to let no other agent look at your work.
Overall, it’s a daunting, time-consuming process. You may have to contact dozens of agents before you find one willing to take on your book. Or, you may not find one at all. It’s a task that can take months if not years. If nothing else, you, as an author, need extreme patience and an infinite capacity for rejection.
In my next blog, I’ll let you know how I’m doing with EYEWALL.