Finding Agents Who Rep Your Genre: Using Twitter
A question I see often on Twitter is, How do I find literary agents who are interested in the genre I write?
Until recently, many who went the traditional publishing route relied on one resource, a book called Guide to Literary Agents. The guide is updated every year, and you can purchase it or find it at your library. It’s the resource I used first, absolutely fantastic, and still the most trusted in the industry.
However, there are other resources you can use to do additional research, including websites, social media, pitch conferences, and online pitch events. Twitter is a pretty simple way to start — to dip your toes in the water.
Why use Twitter to conduct additional research? I see two main reasons:
Agents use Twitter to communicate with other agents and editors. By reading their feeds, you can glean great advice about craft, classes and seminars, podcasts, contests, querying, pitching, and the publishing industry. Also, some agents participate in pitch parties like #dvpit and #pitmad or host #AskAgent sessions, where you ask questions and get answers in real time.
Some agents post the genres they’re looking for by using the #MSWL hashtag. (MSWL stands for Manuscript Wish List.) Not all agents use it, but the ones who do tend to update their wish lists periodically.
TWO WAYS TO FIND AGENTS WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN REPPING YOU:
Follow agents on Twitter. If you type “literary agent” into the Twitter search box, the search will bring up hundreds of names. Take time to go through each profile, do more research, and decide who you want to follow. You can usually get a good sense of personality and what they rep from their posts, which can be helpful in the query process.
Find agents who seek manuscripts in your genre by doing a hashtag search, using #MSWL and the genre of your book. For this to work, you also need the hashtags for the genre(s) you write, and the hashtags can change over time. Below is a sample list. You can Google for more.
Biography: #Bio or #Biography
Christian: #ChristFic or #Christian
Historical Fiction: #Historical or #HistFic
Middle Grade: #MG
Nonfiction: #Nonfiction or #NF
Picture Book: #PB
Science Fiction: #SciFi
Women’s Fiction: #WF or #WomensFiction or #WomensFic
Young Adult: #YA
Also, you can augment your search with other terms that represent your book, such as #POC or #LGBT.
Here’s an example: If you seek an agent for your romance novel, type this into the search box: #MSWL #Romance
The search will return tweets with both terms in it, although the results won’t all be from agents. Some might be from writers, and others from publishers. You’ll have to sift through the tweets, then go to the agent’s website to find their query guidelines.
AND FINALLY …
Always, always, always do in-depth research. When I found an agent of interest in my Twitter searches, I’d go back to the Guide to Literary Agents and/or other sources and check the agent/agency out there as well. Querying takes time and research and a ton of patience.
Never query agents on Twitter. Always use the guidelines listed on their agency website.
Be respectful. Agents are busy people who get hundreds of emails a day. They aren’t on Twitter to answer unsolicited questions from writers or listen to our frustrated rants about the query process. Social media gives writers access to agents that was impossible even 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean they’ll follow back, nor should you expect them to.
THANKS FOR READING AND HAPPY RESEARCHING
If you’ve got feedback on this blog, or if there’s a topic you’d like to see, please comment in the section below. (Future blog topics: writing an elevator pitch, pitch conferences, online pitch events, and using various websites, including two related to #MSWL, to find an agent)