Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Technical Topic -- I've just written a Romance.

Somebody wrote:

I'm a writer trying to break into publishing.  I was wondering if you have any advice on who to query?

I am so glad to hear you're writing Romance.  The genre needs all the good writers it can get.

As to finding an agent . . . 

There are a couple of books that list most of the agents in the industry.  Writer's Market and Jeff Herman's Guide are the two standard.  Most libraries carry them, but it's probably worthwhile owning one or the other. 

I used my own copy to make marginal notes of information I found in many sources.  It was my 'central file", as it were. 

I could cross through agents who flat-out didn't handle Romance.  When I tracked down the agents of my favorite writers, I could add this information right in the Guide.  And when I googled agents and read interviews they'd given, I wrote my impression of their outlook and personality in the guide. 

It put everything nicely in one spot.

Another source is Agent Query here , which will give you a quick, partial list of Romance agents.  Between the two books and the online source, you'll find more than you could ever query.

The trick is finding the right one for you.

 Preditors and Editors here is a good spot to 'vet' your candidates, as is the Absolute Write Bewares and Background Checks Forum here.   This will help you eliminate the outright frauds and the incompetents.

(Absolute Write also has sections for asking questions about agents and query letters and is just a generally excellent spot for a writer to hang out.) 

It's worth subscribing to Publishers Marketplace here for a few months.  PM lists many of the sales agents make to publishing houses.  It will tell you which agents have sold and the sort of books they're selling.  It is by no means exhaustive -- my own agent doesn't supply information there -- but it's another source of information.

Now, one approach in your agent search is to look at folks who represent writers with work similar to your own.  You might look especially at debut writers.  They'll have agents who are taking on new clients. 
To get the name of an author's agent, check the acks page of their books, or google "author name + agent".

I'd suggest a Romance writer with a completed manuscript join Romance Writers of America for one year.  Join your local chapter.  Join some of the online, special-interest groups.

For information on query letters, see Miss Snark's Blog here and Evil Editor here.   

Finally, if you plan to submit to Harlequin, you probably do not need an agent for the early part of your career.  You can submit directly to HQN, (also to Avon and Tor.)

I wish you the very best of luck.


  1. Finding an agent can be very depressing where you begin to question yourself and if you have anything to offer the publishing world.

    Your suggestions are great and ones I recommend all aspiring authors check out :)

  2. Publishing options expand every year. Exciting, but frightening.

    It's not just first time authors unsure what to do. It's all of us.

  3. This is such a generous post, thanks so much for sharing all this info!

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