A great place to start is querytracker.net. This website lists close to two thousand agents in one easily searchable place. It is user friendly and easy to narrow your list quickly by filtering by genre, location, agents taking queries, and many more.
I found this website much more useful than the book I had purchased. The book may have been more inclusive, but it would have been a lot more work to transfer the data to the computer where I created my own excel spreadsheet. QueryTracker offers a free program, which is all you need to begin. But once you begin to query, paying the $25/year is well worth it if you want to have some idea when your targeted agents will review your work and how they generally respond.
Another benefits of a website such as QueryTracker is the agent’s contact information is included, so it’s an easy click to begin your research. Not to mention, there is some basic data about each agent on his or her profile page within the program.
You can wait to build your agent list until your manuscript is finished or you can begin a couple of months before you are ready to query, perhaps during one of those times you have set your book aside to rest. Depending on how detailed you want your initial list to be, this process can take a few days or several weeks. If you are putting together a list months in advance, you may want to simply learn enough about each agent to decide if they are a potential agent for your work or not and prioritize them in some manner.
By putting together a list in advance, you will save yourself work when you are ready to begin to query because you won’t be starting from scratch. Researching agents can be data overload, so it’s not a bad idea to break up the process. Agent research will also motivate you to finish your manuscript. After spending months or years editing, it is exciting to finally see the next step and envision working with the agents you are researching.
Regardless of when you begin, your agent list should always be a work in process. New agents are joining the industry continually and submission requirements continue to change.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you found it helpful.