1. Write a great book that people want to read. Make sure it’s error free and well-researched, and doesn’t contain a bunch of worn out clichés. Better if the story has great characters. And you better have an outstanding query letter.
2. Find out where all the conventions are where lit agents are going to be. Go. Make sure you take your manuscript with you, and meet the lit agents in person.
3. Cultivate on-line relationships with lit agents. By that, I don’t mean going to one site and declaring over and over that you want an agent. Find the agents, and actually make friends with them….way before you pitch your book to them.
4. Try sites like Duotrope or Query Tracker or AAR. Query, query, query. When you get rejected, query some more. Be sure to follow submission guidelines exactly.
5. Do NOT keep pimping your book over and over to the same audience or individuals. After a short while you just become a nuisance, like a Scamway salesperson, ya know? If you keep coming to me, I’ll keep telling you the same thing. Go to Query Tracker or the cons, or whatever, but because I have a lit agent, doesn’t mean I can get you one. I wish I could, but it doesn’t work that way.
6. Do not ask, or expect, a writer who has an agent to pimp you and your book to his/her agent. That is considered extremely poor manners in this biz.
7. IF your book is already published, whether traditionally, or self-published, (or as a blog, or on Facebook, or Wattpad), unless it’s sold something like thirty-thousand copies in its first month, NO agent will want to rep it. Just saying you’ve sold thousands of copies won’t do it. Agents can easily check the stats to see how many actually did sell…and if it’s not in the multiple thousands within a super short period after release, they won’t bother with a book already published, no matter how wonderful the book might be. If it has sold thirty-thousand copies in a month, the agents will be knocking on YOUR door. So, if your book is published, and has not gone viral, and agents aren’t pounding on your door begging to rep it, go back to No. 1.
Best of luck to all of us. We are in a tough biz, and it’s not easy being a writer today.