Paige Wheeler is a literary agent and founder of Folio Literary Management. On February 22, at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, she gave a wide-ranging talk about a host of topics pertinent to writers such as the publishing process, how the downturn has effected the book industry, the economics of writing, contract pitfalls and the advantages of having a literary agent on your side.
But how do you find an agent? She provided five really good tips:
- Attend writer’s conferences. No matter what genre you write in, or where you live, there’s bound to be a conference for you to attend. Conferences offer opportunities to network with writers, editors and agents. Fellow writers can be a good source of information on agents and what they like. Also, the writing business is based upon relationships and attending conferences are a way of making those connections.
- Contests. Agents and editors judge writing contests. Winning a contest could lead to a book deal. Be sure to check out who’s judging the conference to make sure it’s reputable.
- Guides to agents. Your bookstore has several guides to literary agents, such as Writer’s Market and Jeff Herman’s Guide.
- Dedication pages of books. Does your favorite author thank their agent in their acknowledgements?
- Online sources. AgentQuery, AAR Online, Mediabistro and Publishers Marketplace were all cited by Wheeler or members of the audience as good resources.
Wheeler strongly suggested doing your research before querying an agent. Few things irritated her more than a query letter pitching a project (like a screenplay) that she doesn’t handle.
This is just a fraction of the valuable information she provided in a two-hour long session with a lot of questions and answers. Wheeler is a new member of the Writer’s Center faculty and will be conducting a workshop in the spring.