Since I am just beginning the querying game, I have an eagle eye for advice such as this. Take a look at her excellent advice on how to find a literary agents. Plot spoiler: apparently there is no secret handshake or password to move things along quickly and painlessly. Sorry!
Of course, we all know how important it is to write a good book that can be marketed. Be sure to also have a good group of critique partners. This is the best way I know to smooth out rough patches, have glaring plot holes pointed out to you, and have your first group of readers telling you where things are moving along nicely and where you should take out the hatchet and cut, cut, cut. If everyone is telling you something’s not working, something is obviously not working…
Write a good query letter. Okay, great advice, harder to follow through on. But at least there are lots of fantastic resources out there. Take a look at the brilliant Query Shark or Slush Piles Tales to at least learn from some of the most common mistakes. And, when in doubt, refer back to your amazing crit partners. A fresh pair of eyes are always useful!
Take advantage of all the great industry information out there – author blogs, agent web sites, and be willing to learn from the pros. Meet agents at conferences and soak up all the information and advice you can.
Probably the best advice of all: Don’t give up!
You know it already, but Harry Potter was rejected 12 times, The Help a whopping 60 times. Authors simply don’t have the luxury of letting rejection get in their way if they are serious about publishing. The publishing world is subjective, and a literary agent can only do a good job selling your book if she feels drawn by the project.
Keep looking until you find the person who truly believes in your work.
Writers, what have your experiences been in finding a literary agent? Suggestions and advice?