Everything that I’ve read about querying literary agents says not to bombard every agent in the industry at the same time. The scatter shot approach only works when you’re facing a firing squad. Nor should you query one agent at a time – some of them may take months to get back to you. Instead, so they say, you should initially query the half dozen agents with whom you think you might be the best match. Then, when the first one replies, (assuming it’s a ‘No thanks’) send out a query to agent #7 and continue to work your down the list until you hit a “I LOVE IT!” That way you’ll always have half a dozen queries out there in the publishing ethers.
My prodigiously published friend Jim Parish (my go-to guy for all things Hollywood) recommended that I only stick with New York agents. I presume that’s because the publishing industry is still heavily centered there and only agents who are also located in New York will have sufficient contacts to make an impact on your behalf. Being an unpublished author, I don’t know that I can be all that fussy however one must start somewhere. So I’m starting out on my Road to Publication with the NY agents who are listed in the bible – aka Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents 2010 – as those interested in hearing from authors who have written historical fiction. And the first agent on my list is a NY agent who on one website says, “I also especially love historical fiction of all kinds.” Sounds like he’s my kinda guy. Some agents prefer to be contacted by snail mail and others are the email-only type. But this guy is ‘either/or’ and says that I’ll get a faster response by email so email it is. He also instructs us to copy and paste the first five pages of our manuscript. Done. Wish me luck!