March and April got ambushed by the A to Z challenge.
Since then, I've been on a bit of a blogging diet and made good progress with the edits. After the line-by-line critiquing feedback, I had a few significant scene insertions to work on. It felt good to get back to putting new words on the page. But this left the total word count tipping the scales at 100,800 - blowing my target of keeping it to under the magical 100k.
So now the MS needs a diet as I try to wrestle it back down a bit. Things are going well there, too. So well, that I started dusting off my old records from my last round of querying two years ago.
First stop is my existing master list of agents, which I keep in a spreadsheet.
Cross-check this with Writers Beware and Preditors & Editors for any new alerts or recommendations. A few things have changed since I last looked.
I am still building this list, and will need to visit places like AAR, Publishers Marketplace, and SF Writer, for more agencies that I don't already know about. These will also get checked for warnings and added to the spreadsheet.
I keep the "dodgy" ones on file, even though I will never query them, because it saves me from repeating the research if their name pops up again. If it wasn't on my list already then I'd be likely to add it only to have to strike it off again.
Each prospect gets further vetted through their website. Do they represent my genre? Does the specific agent bio talk about the kind of story I'm querying (even sci-fi is a big field)? Do I get any funny "vibes" from the tone of the website - i.e. would I feel comfortable dealing with them (for example, one or two I flagged as "sounds snooty")? Other red flags: closed to queries, only accepts published authors, only accepts snail mail (more a practical point for me, with so many agents accepting email these days why inconvenience myself before I need to?), website non-existent or link invalid.
Confirm address, relevant agent name, and submission guidelines.
It all gets added to the spreadsheet before I'm ready to start shortlisting agents to actually query.
So, for those of you who are (or have been) through the querying mill, how do you go about building your agent list?