How to Research Agents: Starting A Spreadsheet

The other day I had something very surprising happen: a writer queried me. It was a decent query, and I sent the writer a nice reply with a couple of resources. I can only assume the writer found my email address from this blog, and it got me thinking. While I realize that most of my readers already know how to research agents, there may be some out there who are just starting out in this process and would benefit from learning some of the basics. And actually, with every new project, I refresh my list to make sure I’m not missing any new agents or agents who have expanded what they’re acquiring, so maybe my experienced writer friends will pick up a tip or two as well! Maybe not from this first post but a later one :). So here we go. First up:

1. Create a spreadsheet.

My spreadsheet has twenty-five columns, but let’s keep it simple for now with just five:

Agent Agency Website Blog Twitter

We’ll add more columns later, but this will give us a start.

2. Find the agents.

There are a number of resources available to research agents. The two most popular databases are QueryTracker.net and AgentQuery.com. I personally prefer QueryTracker, so for this series, I’m going to use it as my primary source, although as I lead you deeper into researching agents, we will definitely refer to other resources. You’ll need to sign up for a free account in order to follow some of the instructions. However, if you are planning to create an agent list, you’d want to do that anyway.

Let’s say you’re making a list of middle grade agents in QueryTracker.

  • Sign in.
  • Click on the Search for Literary Agents tab in the upper left-hand corner.
  • There are several options on the left-hand side. In the Genres option, select Fiction – Middle Grade from the pull-down menu.

A list of agents will appear to the right.

3. Populate your spreadsheet.

Click on the first agent and either copy/paste or type the information into your spreadsheet. If the information is available, it will be on that first page. Some agents might not have a website, blog or Twitter. If they don’t, I put N/A in that column.

You might wonder why I don’t include the agent’s email address in my spreadsheet. I keep a separate column further down my spreadsheet for submission guidelines, and sometimes agents don’t use their direct emails for submissions. As a result, I prefer not to keep those on my spreadsheet so I don’t accidentally use the wrong one in communications. However, if you want to add it to yours, that’s up to you.

When you’re finished with an agent, you can click “Next Agent” in the gray bar to the right of the current agent’s name at the top. Keep populating until you get to the end of the list.

I’m going to stop here for today because this step will take a while. And that search for middle grade agents? Well, today it turns up 263. And if you’re searching for young adult you’d get a much bigger return. In any case, making this initial list of names is just the very first step. There is a lot more work to do before you’re ready to decide who to query and how to query them. I’ll address those in future weeks. I haven’t yet determined how many weeks this series will be. We’ll see how it goes.

So, for any of my readers who are new to this process, please let me know if this is helpful, and also please let me know if you have any questions about these first steps.

All posts in this series:

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About Michelle I. Mason

I'm a full-time writer, focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. I'm also a wife, mom, Christian, violinist, avid reader and St. Louis Cardinals fan. And I watch way too much TV.
This entry was posted in Agents, How to Research Agents, Querying and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to How to Research Agents: Starting A Spreadsheet

  1. blairbburke says:

    Yeah, that’s basically how I started my searching 🙂 I’m definitely going to keep reading to see what the rest of your columns are (my spreadsheet only has about twelve).

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a great organizational strategy! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  3. Pingback: How to Research Agents: What They’re Looking For | Michelle I. Mason

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  8. Pingback: How to Research Agents: Ready to Query | Michelle I. Mason

  9. Pingback: What I’ve Learned in Four Years of Querying | Michelle I. Mason

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