Agents receive a ton of queries: I average about one hundred a week. But a lot of those queries are for books in genres I don’t represent—which sadly means the writers have wasted their time by reaching out to me.
If there is one top tip for succeeding in a quest for an agent, it would be to do your research and make sure you’re targeting the right agents: those who either have a history of working with your kind of book or have shown interest in representing such material in the future. There are several ways to find out if the agent you’re querying meets either description. To start, most agency websites list agent profiles describing what kind of writing projects each is specifically looking for. You can further personalize your query by visiting a bookstore or library and reviewing other titles that feel like-minded to yours. The acknowledgments section in the back of a book is likely to thank the author’s agent by name. You can then query that agent, naming their clients or books that you feel have a kinship with yours. This would both signify your literacy within the field of publishing and offer a more intimate nod to the agent you’re querying. It would also show that you’re not just throwing spaghetti at the wall.
If you’re truly targeting the right agents, you’re likely to get some manuscript requests soon enough.
—Jody Kahn, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents