I’d like to introduce you to Scoti Domeij.  Scoti has worked for several publishers over her career in various facets of editing. She is now a freelance writer,  workshop teacher, and leads writing critique groups as well as a successful writing group in Colorado Springs. She recently wrote her first book and acquired her first agent.

I asked Scoti to walk us through the process of researching and finding an agent when you don’t know where to start. The following is the first part of her advice for locating an agent.

I recall the first agent I knew. As the editor of Harvest House Publishers, I wondered, Why would an author give up 15% of their advance and royalties to an agent? Seemed crazy. Who would have guessed that agent was a man ahead of the times?

Fast forward to 2011. These days most authors need an agent to help their manuscript land on an editor’s desk at a publishing house. So how do you get an agent?

If you’re not a superstar, celebutante, Jesus, or famous for being famous, first you’ll need to hone your writing skills, write a quality book-length manuscript, join a critique group, edit, edit, edit, and then craft an irresistible query letter. And that may take years. Since you only have a minute or two to catch an agent’s interest, make sure your topic, writing voice and skills, book, book proposal, and query is up to par to send to an agent.

And the Next Steps?

1.      Research agents by genre. Don’t waste your time or the agent’s by contacting someone who does not specialize in your genre.

2.      Subscribe to the Guide for Literary Agent’s blog. http://guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/ This blog’s tagline says it all—where and how to find the right agents to represent your work. This blog lists agents looking for new clients.

3.      New may be for you. Look for an agent that’s new and needs clients. Or check out agents looking for new clients or that accept unsolicited queries.

4.      Attend a writing conference with top-quality agents. Make an appointment to professionally pitch yourself and your book. Better yet, attend a writing conference known for attracting beginning writers. If you’ve honed your craft, you’ll stand above the crowd.

5.      Read book forewords in your writing genre. Read the acknowledgments page. Authors thank their agents by name. Google the agent’s name and go to their website. Read their query submission guidelines, and then follow their directions to the T.

6. Head to the library. Read 2011 Guide To Literary Agents http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Literary-Agents-Chuck-Sambuchino/dp/1582979537/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299990055&sr=8-1 or Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2011, 21E: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over. http://www.amazon.com/Hermans-Publishers-Editors-Literary-Agents/dp/1402243375/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1299990186&sr=8-2 or Literary Market Place 2010: The Directory of the American Book Publishing Industry with Industry Yellow Pages. http://www.amazon.com/Literary-Market-Place-2010-Publishing/dp/1573873578/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299992811&sr=8-1

Scoti has another 6 points to share, so please stop back next week to learn more about how to find an agent.