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What do i do next with my manuscript? Do i need an agent? How do i get an agent?

Hi, David!

An agent is the best way to get a great contract with one of the major publishers. There are a lot of publishers who won't read manuscripts that are sent directly from authors. But there are some who do. But in people I've talked to through the years, in those who have sold both individually and with an agent, they favor having an agent.

To get an agent, you'll need to research which agent would be best for your type of book. The best (and easiest) way to find out is to find an author in the bookstore or library whose readers you hope will read YOUR book. Look on the acknowledgment page and see if they mentioned their agent, or check out QueryTracker to search by author for the name of their agent ( )

Then you need to learn how to write a "query" letter. A query letter is basically a request (hence, a "query") to an agent, asking them to read your manuscript for possible representation. It's an art to write a selling query. A great place to learn about how to write queries (and to find names of agents when you don't know the author) is ( ) There's a link in the upper left hand corner about how to write a query. Read it. Then read it again and practice, practice, practice!

Then make up your list of agents and start sending. You can send the query to as many agents as you like at first. You'll later have to decide (if more than one agent wants to see the book) if you want to let them look at it one at a time, or all at once. One at a time can let weeks or months slip by, but some agents simply won't read a full manuscript without the guarantee they're the only one looking at it. (From their point of view, it's like being invited to an exclusive preview of a new product, only to discover it's already for sale everywhere. Where's the exclusivity?)

Hope that helps! Good luck.


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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