Today I went to a free How To Get Published workshop at our library. I didn’t have high expectations after reading the flyer. I already know how to get a literary agent. I have a handle on marketing and publicity (in case you didn’t know, I have a Master’s in public relations), and I’m not interested in self-publishing. Still, I wanted to have the chance to network and maybe hear something I haven’t heard yet.
The turn-out was great. In fact, there were more people than chairs. The speaker/author was very nice and personable, but he didn’t have a shred of information I hadn’t come across yet. Worse, because sixty minutes is not a lot of time to discuss the publishing industry, he stuck to very general tips and made the query sound like an outline “you’d write for your college literary class.”
He also touched on one of my pet peeves for advice. How to find the agent for you? Simple! Find books that are like yours, check the acknowledgment section and write down the name of the agent. I truly, truly despise that piece of advice. Does anyone who advices to do that even read the acknowledgement sections? I once spent two days at Barnes & Nobel doing just that. I picked up every single book in the gay and lesbian section, jotted down all the names mentioned in the acknowledgements and found only two identified as agents. Editors were thanked much more often, John Scognamiglio among them. He works for Kensington, of course. And Kensington will only work with agents.
Not discouraged easily, I came back a second day and worked my way through the mystery, suspense and thriller section. I did a few shelves of romance novels, then eventually gave up. The number of agents identified and thanked in the acknowledgment section is virtually non-existent.
As far as advice goes: combing through acknowledgements is a waste of time. It is far easier to subscribe to Publishers Marketplace and read the sections on deals and new books, which often identify the agents behind the deals.
As many hours and days as I have spent looking for agents representing gay fiction, I still have not found the agents who represented my favorite writers published with Kensington. Every so often I check to see if those writers have websites yet, but none of them do. Bummer.
Oh, and in case you wondered about all those names I jotted down. Yes, I check each and every one against the agent databases available on the Internet and in reference guides such as the LMP. I found two more to add to the two who were readily identified as agents.