Always do your “homework”

I am very confident that any other editor or agent would agree. Imagine working in the publishing industry, seeing thousands of book ideas every year. In addition to seeing all these queries hit one’s desk (or inbox), there’s also the necessity in knowing WHO to go to, WHAT ideas are selling, and HOW these folks would like to be contacted.

Ultimately one person cannot represent every single book/publishing category, without overstretching one’s work schedule (and necessary focus) in order to succeed. i.e. If an agent (or editor) specializes in fiction, it’s probably not the best idea to offer your non-fiction work, UNLESS he/she has asked to see it.

Every Fall and Spring, it becomes increasingly more evident that people are querying everybody. When 99% of the queries are not even for categories Red Sofa represents, it shows that writers are contacting every agent listed online and/or in the various print directories available. I definitely see the desire to find the perfect agent/editor, and the belief that querying all of us will yield positive results. Yet, it becomes expensive on the author’s pocketbook, and limited free time, when every single agent/editor (in the market) is queried with the same idea.

How about saving some time and money, and research the agents and editors in the publishing industry–before mailing out those queries? Look at Jeff Herman’s book, Writer’s Market, online databases, and more, as you’ll be able to narrow down the best-possible agents/editors who share simlar book interests. This means that if you are writing the great American novel, it’s a better idea to query agents/editors who specifically work with Novels vs. agents/editors who prefer Non-Fiction. As for as Non-Fiction goes; please ensure that the agent(s) you query actually work with your book’s category.

As it is, despite my own statement that no religious or spiritual books will be considered (in print and online), over 50% of my queries seem to have this “edge.” Yes, Red Sofa Literary represents Non-Fiction. However, being that the agent (me) does not read or desire to read books in this category, it’s a very GOOD idea that Red Sofa does not represent books for the Religion/Spiritual category. Any type of summary on Red Sofa Literary reflects the specific categories desired, and it’s as straightforward as possible. Many other agents have used this same approach, and still receive a high percentage of queries that are not reflective of their specialities.

Ultimately the person who works with a writer’s book should already have a strong interest, a good bank of knowledge, and/or history with that’s writer’s book category. Not only does the writer benefit from working with an agent and/or editor who likes simliar reading matter, the book idea will benefit too. i.e. Getting published.

Finding an agent/editor is much like finding the perfect apartment, pet, or dating companion. It’s necessary that there are similar interests, good communication, and the ability to understand where the other is coming from. Yes, it takes more work; in the end, you will see a better result.