Before you contact an agent:
1. Finish your novel or short story collection. An agent can do nothing for you without a finished product.
2. Revise your novel. Have other writers offer criticism to ensure your manuscript is as finished as you believe possible.
3. Proofread. Don't let your hard work go to waste by turning off an agent with typos or poor grammar.
4. Publish short stories or novel excerpts in literary journals, proving to potential agents that editors see quality in your writing.
5. Research to find the agents of writers you most admire or whose work is similar to your own.
6. Construct a list of agents open to new writers and looking for your type of fiction (i.e., literary, romance, mystery).
7. Rank your list. Use the listings in this book to determine the agents most suitable for you and your work, and to eliminate inappropriate agencies.
8. Write your synopsis. Completing this step early will help you write your query letter and save you time later when agents contact you.
9. Compose your query letter. As an agent's first impression of you, this brief letter should be polished and to the point.
10. Read about the business of agents so you are knowledgeable and prepared to act on any offer.
The most complete list of agents looking for writers:
Guide to Literary Agents