My method for finding an agent is as follows:

The first sources I’m using are the #MSWL hashtag on twitter, and googling “literary agents actively seeking middle grade”.  The hashtag is “manuscript wishlist”.  This is a great source, and should probably be everyone’s first (IMO).  Agents are advertising their desires, what they want in a manuscript.  Does your ms match their wish?  QUERY!!  And put #MSWL in the subject line or at least the letter itself.

The Google search mainly got me blog posts from WD, but they were still helpful.  I got one or two from them.  These agents are usually new.  Many writers actively search for reputable agents.  That’s great, but there’s nothing wrong with a new agent.  I’m a new writer.  Highly reputable agents probably aren’t going to take on that many non-highly reputable writers.  By no means does this mean you settle with a “bad” agent, but I am actively querying new agents with gusto and hope.

How long do you search?

This depends on each person.  For me?  At this point in time, I’m giving it six months.  I may change my mind as time goes on; there’s really no way of knowing for sure.

What do you do in the meantime?

This also varies.  It’s easy for me.  The ms I’m querying is the first of a series.  I’m currently writing synopses for the next three books.  After that, I’ll outline/plot out the next three as applicable.  And then, I’ll write book 2.  So I suppose, instead of six months, I’ll query until I finish book 2.  And then I’ll really have no choice but to move on.

But for others, they may want to write shorts or flashes for magazines, enter a few contests, or start another big project.

What do you do if you don’t get an agent?

Originally, I had another project, but I have since changed my mind.  I have heard so many wonderful things on book 1 (things I didn’t hear on my shorts), that I will self-publish.  I hope to not go that route.  It’s dark and scary.  My main concern with SP-ing is that most SP books are, well, not published by a TP for a reason.  And my book will automatically be grouped with those books from the get-go no matter how good or bad it is.

No matter what your choice is, direct TP, agenting TP, or SP, I wish you the best of luck!