Friday, July 12, 2019

Great Resources for Studying Up: On How to Submit Your Manuscript to Agent or Publishers

One of my blog readers from Europe is preparing to submit her first book to agents and publishers.  She has plans to attend the International Book Fair in Germany in October, but she wanted to study up before then.  She asked for my best bets in books, blogs, and other resources.

I'm always delighted to share my favorites.  I have to credit friends, colleagues, students, and other writers in the trenches of submission for most of these resources.  Anyone who's been through it knows how challenging the whole infuriating, wonderful, discouraging, illuminating process can be.  It helps so much to study up beforehand.  Be not surprised or unprepared--you'll kick yourself and you'll probably lose any future chances with that particular agent.

So here's the best I've found, thanks to many helpers over the years.  I've used all of these myself.  

Do you know other great ways to get the info or get ready?  Please go to my Facebook page, Your Book Starts Here, and share your favorites.

Here are mine, in no particular order:
1.  Manuscript Wish List:  MSWL# is not new but a lot of writers don't know about it.  It's where agents go to post their wish lists--manuscripts they'd love to represent.  You can get a great list of possible agents from browsing this.  Get a sense of the agent's style, too, how they might be to work with. ( if the link doesn't work)  Once you select a few who feel like good fits, be sure to check out their Twitter feeds as well.

2.  Jane Friedman:  My editor raved about Jane's e-newsletter and her books; since he doesn't often rave, I checked her out a few years ago and I'm very glad I did.  She's the former publisher of Writer's Digest magazine and knows the publishing business well. Her newsletter offers good information about easing your writing life.  I sat in on one of her publishing basics webinars through Writer's Digest and learned some good tips.  Highly recommend her latest book, The Business of Being a Writer, if you're submitting your first manuscript.  (  

3.  Jeff Herman:  Herman's guide to agents, editors, and publishers is an industry standard and very comprehensive.  I recommend having Herman's book in your research library along with the annually released Writer's Digest Guide to Literary Agents. Both are useful, in different ways. You can do all the research online, of course, but I find it helpful to browse the pages of these guides and mark good fits, before I spend hours online.  (

4.  Agentquery is an online tracking program where writers post their query, submission, and response successes or failures with agents.  You can search by agent and see the track record, use the site for organizing your own submissions, and get ideas from other writers.  Free and paid subscription (the paid one has more search features). (

5. Poets & Writers magazine has a great online list of literary agents.  You can use it to start your search or to confirm your picks.  (

6. I used Writer's Digest interviews to search for new (hungrier) agents.  New agents are more open to debut writers and often WD likes to run profiles on them.  A good place to search for your agent's name and see what they say.  (

5.  Pub Rants.  Nelson Literary has a wonderful series of blogs written by their small group of savvy agents. One of my clients turned me on to this and I subscribed.  Great way to get educated about the other side of the industry and what agents experience. (

Many more resources out there, so be sure to email me your finds!  This'll get you started at least.  Happy hunting.

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