Thursday, January 12, 2012

Researching Literary Agents on Twitter: a dozen thoughts in 140 characters or less

One of the best ways to research literary agents is to follow them on Twitter. It can help you discover if your dream agent is all she or he seems—or if a different agent might be a better fit. You can get an idea about what an agent is looking for and a handle on their tastes. Basically, Twitter following agents will help you know more about them as individuals, that will help you make wiser choices about who to query, and in turn will lead to a higher request rate.

Here are a dozen of my thoughts about following and researching agents on Twitter--in 140 characters or less, of course.

  1. Take advantage of the scheduled and spontaneous Twitter chats where anyone can ask agents questions. Look for hashtags like  #askagent   

  1. To make following easier and faster, create a Twitter List for the agents you want to follow.

  1. An agent’s Tweets often reveal personal traits, like sense of humor, likes and dislikes, temperament, odd quirks and pet peeves.

  1. With the exception of agent sponsored Twitter pitch contests, NEVER query an agent via Twitter.

  1. Keep your eyes open, agents often Tweet and RT contests and events they are involved in.

  1. Many agents announce their slush updates on Twitter. This includes no-response-means-no agents.

  1. You can get a feeling for an agent’s taste by seeing what movies and books they enjoy—and by learning about their favorite pastimes.

  1. Agents often give writing and querying advice on Twitter.

  1. Agents discuss the market and publishing in general with editors on Twitter.

  1. Twitter gives you a chance to catch a peek at an agent’s professionalism and work style, before you query them.

  1. Agents usually Tweet when they’ve updated their blog. This can help you spot interesting posts.

  1. Agents sometimes mention what they are looking for on Twitter.

Now it’s your turn. Did you use Twitter to research agents? Do you have any thoughts or advice?


  1. Before I got an agent (who coincidentally does NOT use Twitter) I definitely used it. A post I saw allowed me to tailor a query which netted a full request as I was able to reference the tweet. "Hey I saw where you were excited about such and such a query, perhaps you'd also be interested in my manuscript..." I got an offer before this agent had read and she graciously passed on the full.

    I also saw one agent's tweets were so acerbic and snarky, I decided that was not the kind of professional I wanted representing me.

    Now I've advanced to stalking editors on Twitter. And I've cut and pasted a few relevant tweets that I've then forwarded on to my non-tweeting agent.

    Totally useful tool!

  2. I too have gotten full requests after using Twitter to tailor a query.

    It's cool that you're passing on Tweets to your agent.

    (I keep wanting to write Teats. Must be because I just started reading Dust of 100 Dogs, and the nipple at the beginning stuck in my mind)

  3. Excellent advice. I joined twitter but almost never use it cuz I don't really know how. Guess I better figure it out, so I can follow agents I'm interested in. Thanks for the awesome tips.

  4. What I find coolest about twitter is I can look up an agent's tweets and 'follow' her without actually having a twitter account. Call it a shortcut, but it's worked for me! ;)

  5. Alice, Twitter is great once you get the hang of it. But,seriously, use the 'list' feature right from the start. It's the best way to keep writer friends, CPs, editors and agents... seperate from general masses you may decide to follow.

    I'm @patesden and I'd love to have more followers.

    The list thing works the same, Suzanne, and you can chat with them as well :)

  6. I know I'm an odd duck because A. I don't tweet (yet?) and B. I have yet to query an agent. But I can't imagine someone querying ON TWITTER. If that ever starts as a trend- I can see all professional (of the more or less respectable professions) abandoning Twitter as fast as they came on board.

  7. Mirka, I gather people do try to query that way. It seems pretty rude to me.

    I like Twitter and blogging, but I'm the odd duck when it comes to Facebook. I don't like Facebook's adds and games. I stop by there now and again, but it doesn't feel like home to me.

  8. I'm not on twitter but I just had to laugh at your #4. Really? Would someone really do that?

  9. inluvwithwords, according to agents, people do. I guess it's better than a bathroom stall pitch :)