Any suggestions on locating the best crime fiction agents? I mean ones who are also serious about taking on someone new from the slush pile. I've completed the revisions of one novel & am working on two others. Yeas ago I went through the same old lists. Found that many of the agents who said they we interested in crime fiction weren't, or weren't taking new authors anyway. I'd like to narrow down my queries quite a bit this time around.
Also, I know it goes against standard advice but I'm tempted to go out side of the box with an unusual query I've come up with. First time around has led me to believe that the amount of query submissions is so large that something like this might be worth a shot. What do you think? Thank You. Jed
I don't think in this market a new author is in the position to be picky. Get a Writer's Market book and hit as many as you can. http://tinyurl.com/d3lfslb
If you want your query to stand out, make it the most professional query it can possibly be. Take the time to seek out query requirements and follow them. That goes further than anything else. I get queries for non-fiction at my full-time job, and most of them don't bother reading the requirements.
The best way to find out is to scope out those authors who are successful in the genre. See if you can who is representing them. If you can find a consensus of names, those are the people to send to.
But a word of caution . . . don't hold your breath. Remember just about ever agent out there is drowning in manuscripts. To make an impression you've got to either be absolutely brilliant . . . or incredibly persistent.
The best agents often say they aren't taking on any clients. And yet they still read queries (or have assistants who do) and if they're intrigued with your query and you blow their socks off with your ms they will take you on. I know this from experience. I've been repped by four different agents and have gotten full ms reads from many others, the biggest names in the industry not just in crime fiction, the same ones who say they aren't taking on anyone new.
But it's the longest of long shots to target well known agents and maybe they won't work as hard for you as a newer agent--because they're busy repping Larry Block or Lee Child or what have you.
Frankly, I'd target everybody, starting with the bigger agents, and simply work your way through the entire community, if need be. It's never been tougher to find an agent (or less certain trad publishing is the way to go).
Check Agent Query - http://www.agentquery.com/
And Publisher's Marketplace - http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/
And the AW Water Cooler - http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/
Look at the Ask the Agent forum and the Bewares, Recommendations and Background Check forum
I do not have an agent at the moment, although I have had two in my writing career, so take this with a grain of salt. I do follow the rules, query with the standard query letter, follow the guidelines, cross every t and so on. I queried 86 agents on my first published novel before finally selling it to a small press on my own. But... I know someone who went to Bouchercon, made up these little gift bags with promotional materials for his yet to be published novel and had them delivered to every agent there. He got an agent, one that was not taking on new clients. Everything I've read says not to do that. But it worked for him. I think you are more likely to get attention if you can talk to an agent in person, at a conference, etc.
J. E. gave some very good links and places that should help. Good luck!