Need an Agent? Look at Publisher’s Marketplace

Have you met a nice agent at a conference but have no clue about their professional history? What have they sold, when and for how much? Choosing the agent to represent you is key to your career. You’ve spent months or years writing the manuscript, so it’s well worth the time spent on research to find the perfect agent for you.

When you are ready, one of the best things you can do is to sign up for Publisher’s Marketplace. This is a source that is used by just about everyone in publishing. It costs around $20 a month, but is worth every penny when you need agent information. It lists the current sales of manuscripts, shows which editor acquired the property, which agent sold it, and often mentions a rough estimate of the price.

The search function in the deals category is extremely powerful. You can find how many sales an agent has reported in the last year or two or more. I’ve heard agents say that not all sales are reported, but why withhold this publicity opportunity for you, them and the book? You can also search for a category or a specific keyword. Say you are thinking of writing a book about puffins. You can see if anyone has sold a manuscript recently about puffins. It doesn’t mean you won’t still write your concept, it just gives you more information. You can also search more broadly, say for a category like middle grade or a genre like fantasy, to see how many of those have sold in the last week or month.

You can create your own page there if you like. This is particularly helpful to writers who also have a side business like editing.

A great timesaver function is the ability to set up alerts to track certain editors or agents (that sounds dangerously like stalking, but it’s not). If you’re considering five agents, you can put them on your tracking list so whenever they report deals, it will automatically show in your tracking area. There will be days when you’re too busy to read all the deals, and this is a perfect shortcut. But every so often, scan all the deals to give you a sense of what is now selling – and what is not.

And of course the site lists job opportunities and publishing insider news. You can start with the free Publisher’s Lunch, and get the news sent to your email. It’s a shortened version of the one sent to subscribers, but it’s free.

If you want to be a published author, the key is writing the great book. But it also helps to know what those in the business know. It’s all just waiting for you.

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Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the tips, Lissa. I just signed up for the free lunch newsletter. And I also already get the twice a week PW Children's Bookshelf. That's a great resource too.

Lissa Price said...

Yes, that's a good one too, thanks for adding it!

Jocelyn Rish said...

I didn't realize the search features were so detailed. Since I think I'm getting close to the querying stage, it sounds like it's definitely worth the cost to sign up. Thanks for the info!