Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finding Agents and Publishers

© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

After the thrill of discovering that we could write, after writing that great first opening line and finally typing those two amazing little words, “The End” we writers have discovered that writing the book is the fun, easy, and cost-effective part of the writing journey. Marketing and promotion is a whole other story. It takes time, impeccable timing, and sometimes can cost the author hundreds of dollars to gain a piece of the marketing pie (book tours, book trailers, radio interviews, hire a publicist, travel, marketing materials such as bookmarks, etc., to name a few). So when I find a great source of information that doesn’t cost me anything other than my time, I’m on it.

When I opened my e-mail this week, I found my much anticipated Writer’s Digest E-newsletter. It’s one of the best freebies out there for writers looking for solid writing information is the. It’s full of great articles, advice, and reprints of articles from their monthly magazine. One of the articles that immediately caught my attention in this issue was the piece titled, “5 Quick Tips for Writer/Agent Negotiations.” I’d always heard that a reputable agent will not charge a reading fee, but the other points were just as interesting. Since I will soon be seeking representation for my current work in progress, over the past several months I’ve focused on gathering as much information as possible about agents who represent mystery/suspense. It’s a scary prospect to think that once I have the novel completed it could take months/years before it goes to print, but my eyes are wide open and that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

The important thing is to do your homework.

  1. Focus on only those who accept your genre.
  2. Read their submission guidelines and follow it to the letter.
  3. Polish that query letter and synopsis. Ask several trusted friends who have written them before to read them and offer suggestions.
  4. Send query letters to the top five agents on your list, wait two weeks, and send to the next five and so on and so forth.
The following are a few websites writers can turn to for information about reputable publishers and agents.

Preditors & Editors To read about how agents work, check out this link:

Agent Query

Association of Authors Representatives (AAR) check the "search for an agent" link.

How many more are you aware of?

About the author:
Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense. Her books are available online at familiar shops such as all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, and Powells. Other locations include, but are not limited to those listed on her website.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008) Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

SILENCED CRY (2007) Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)


Sheila Deeth said...

I never think of real authors like you still reading those articles and looking for agents and editors. Thanks for helping those rose-colored spectacles to slip to the side a little, then if I ever get published, real life won't be such a shock, and maybe I won't be quite so unprepared.

Kim Smith said...

great post Marta!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Funny, I was just thinking about posting on this topic, too. Must be on our minds, eh? I'm planning to sub my thirteenth book to big agents ("For the Birds") and possibly will follow it with "Don't Let the Wind Catch You."

I use the above sites, but my preferred site (which costs just a little to join) is It's got great search abilities and seems to be very up to date and of course, legit. ;o) Thanks, Marta!

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Good luck with finishintg the WIP and finding good representation for it.

It'll certainly happen, but preferably sooner rather than it'll mean your work finds a publisher so we can read it...sooner rahter than later!

Marta Stephens said...

Hi all!!
Sheila,reading and searching is a way of life for a writer. It's the only way to keep up with trends and improve your craft. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks Kim & Aaron. Like minds, huh?

Aww, Terry, one of Sam's great fans. ;) Thank you so much for your encouragement. Hopefully I'll have another one of my books in your hands soon. Thank you!!