On today's Writer's Wednesday, I wanted to talk to you about the nuts and bolts of getting ready to submit to agents. As many of us have learned first hand, you do yourself a disservice if you're not 100% prepared. I know, you've written the perfect, unique novel, proofed it once or twice, and your neighbor's kid loves it. No -- you're still not ready.
1. RESEARCH: Find out which agents actually want your genre (see our Industry Terms page if you need help with this). Follow the agents on twitter, follow their blogs, or at the very least read their bio on the agency web page. Why take the time to personalize a query and hit send if the agent isn't looking for what you wrote?
2. ORGANIZE: I found the easiest way to organize my research was by creating a chart in a word processing document (or Excel if you have this knowledge). I had categories for agent name, agency name, what they're looking for, submission guidelines, submission date, response/date. Having the agency name is important because many agencies only allow you to submit to one agent, but it's possible multiple agents within the agency represent the same genre. You'll want to search to be sure you're not hitting up the same agency more than once. Organization in the beginning will save you loads of time at the end.
3. SYNOPSIS: Have a 2-page, single-spaced synopsis ready to go. You don't want to have the perfect query and not be able to promptly respond to a request for a synopsis. Even though most agencies won't request a synopsis upfront, you need to have this ready anyway.
That's my advice anyway. Anyone else have other must-do tips you want to share when getting ready to query?