When to look for an agent?
If you’re writing a novel, don’t submit until after you’ve written and rewritten the novel. In other words: after.
If you’re writing nonfiction, you’ll submit a query for a proposal, not a finished book. Agents and publishers base their nonfiction publishing decisions on proposals, and don’t expect you to finish until after the contract is signed. So: before.
Longer Answer: Look for an Agent early; Submit Later
Don’t submit your query until your work is ready (the proposal or the novel), but do start researching in advance. While you’re writing and researching, keep your eyes open and build up your list of potential agents:
- Create a file of potential agents (digital or a real folder)
- Note the names of agents that are acknowledged in your favorite books
- Subscribe to a reputable publishing newsletter or two (Publishers Weekly; Publishers Marketplace, Writers Digest) and notice the names of agents that pop up. Writers Digest interviews agents looking for new clients all the time.
- Use Google alerts to get book news from one or two reputable sources (USA Today, New York Times)
- Ask around whenever you run into other writers (your writing group, writing workshops, online groups).
Best of luck!