Jenny Bent is the founder of The Bent Agency, and has been in the business for 15 years. She blogs over at Bent on Books, and is fabulous not only for being a fantastic agent, but she lives in Brooklyn, where I grew up.
Here's a quote from Bent: “This sounds trite, but you cannot give up and you cannot stop believing in yourself. So many incredibly successful writers spent years and years trying to break into this business and you should take inspiration from how hard they worked and how they never stopped trying. That, and brush up on online promotion—increasingly it is essential for publishing success, both for published and unpublished authors.”
Jenny Bent has lots of great posts on her blog, including a series from her clients on how they got an agent. Here are some highlights:
Sometimes a little stalking is a good thing: how getting to know an agent can increase your query chances.
"Overnight Success": the agent story of Bent's client Lori Roy, who didn't write a good query letter. She shares the timeline of querying through publication.
How I got the right agent. At last. In spite of everything. The agent story of Ellen Bache.
On agent regrets: how agents feel about passing on particular manuscripts.
Think of me as a conduit, not a gatekeeper: Bent has a refreshing view of how important agents and editors are in the publishing process.
How writers disqualify themselves with their query letters: one of Bent's interns shares what she's learned reading piles of slush.
How I sold three 'first' novels in three different genres: Bent's client Jennifer Archer broke the 'rules' of writing different genres, and shares how it worked out.
Social media: Bent showcases her authors who do a great job with social media.
Even nepotism isn't enough: Wish you had a niece who was a literary agent? Read the story of Bent's aunt, Marta McDowell, and how she fought for representation.