My friend was asking me for advice the other day about looking for agents. Now, I don't really think of myself as an expert, especially with such people around as Elana Johnson and Nathan Bransford, but I have done a bit of research so the idea of being helpful just about made my day a bit more sunshiney. This, of course, would've been a whole lot better if it wasn't already a thousand degrees over here, but still. Worth it.
Thus, I have decided to share my advice with you all.
A) Don't get published yet. Yup. Pretty much the first thing I have to say. I totally agree with other Smart People that before a Writer/Author person gets published they should first Enjoy the Freedom they have. Think about it. You get to write whatever you want, whenever you want (within reason), without demands, or pressure, or having to write outlines or anything. It's like being single. Sure, married life can be just swell, but it comes with a whole lot of responsibility. And unlike with marriages nowadays, it's much harder to 'divorce' yourself from publishing a book. So party with your unpublished book and make sure you're ready for the Crazy that follows getting published. Yeah, yeah, yeah... What do I know? It's not like I'm published, and it's not like I'm following my own advice. But that doesn't mean someone out there shouldn't be listening to this sound advice. Just because I'm crazy doesn't mean you should be too.
2) Research Agents: This includes knowing their name, what Agency they work with, what books they have helped get published. I like to check such books out from the library to see if I like them. Because if I like them, then the agent and I might actually have tastes in common. This, of course, means that you cannot go around querying everyone in the universe. But wait! Don't forget to find out the agents favorite color, so that you can use that as your Query letter font color. Plus, finding ways to bribe them is always nice. Or, adding in extra tidbits in your query letter like this: "I saw you at the grocery store the other day (even though we live in different states) and think that you look fab in pink. Even if it was a frayed, disgusting, robe."
3) Get a blog. I'm serious. There is so much information out there available to you through blogs... It's insane. Although... If you're reading this you probably already have a blog. So. This is a pointless point. Moving on!
D) Become a part of every networking site possible. Goodreads, Facebook, Jacketflap, Lunch, Twitter... So many that your brain falls out from the madness! Okay, okay, I kid. Only be part of the things that you can handle. If you can handle everything on the planet, then forge ahead. If you can't, don't kill yourself.
E) Buy (or capture and tame) a strange animal. Like an armadillo, or Zombie Kittens (more on that at a later time), or platypus, or an arrdvark, or a fairy/pixie (though they'll probably kill you or curse you to always eat frogs), albatrosses, hyenas, large unfriendly dragons, invisible purple godzilla monsters, buffalo, manatees... The list goes on! (My co-worker can't stop naming them now, she's so excited...flamingoes, penguins [Mr. Popper's Penguins!], camels, alpacas, zedonk.) It will help you be more creative and make you more unique. Plus, you can mention that in your query letter, because agents love useless information.
*Some of this may be written seriously, while others may or may not be sarcastic. If you can't tell the difference, throw pies in my general direction. Mmm... pies.