I am currently looking for another day job as well as looking for a book agent for my novel, and I’m noticing that querying book agents and submitting job applications are remarkably similar.
You are asking a complete stranger for attention and the odds are likely that you will be either rejected or ignored. In a way, the rejections of book agents are more useful than the silence that you often get from prospective employers. At least from a book agent, you often get a response, sometimes even a useful one. It’s actually less demoralizing than it used to be. The problem with employers is that technology has made applying for jobs very easy, but this means that HR depts get overwhelmed with many, many resumes--many of them irrelevant as people have taken to scattershotting applications which doesn’t help anyone, and sometimes they completely overestimate their capabilities: sure I can be the CEO, no problem.
The best way is to be organized about what and who you applied to, be it employment or a book agent. Keep a document or a spreadsheet that notes the day, and who you applied to, and any special requirements like “first 5 pages in the body of the message” and any response that you got. I use Google Drive for this so I can get to it from anywhere.
To find agents who are looking for people you can get the list from
- Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino (Kindle edition)
- Or his blog where he lists new agents (This is what I’ve been working from)