Monday, October 21, 2013

Create an Agent Bible with OneNote

There are so many amazing agents out there! 

Researching them, and determining who might be a good fit for my almost-ready-to-query manuscript, is one of my most favorite procrastination stations.

Something about gathering all this info, reading awesome agent interviews, and stalking Twitter feeds, (as one does) fills me with all the happy feels. One of these fabulous people may become the champion of my book. Squeeee! You know that feeling, right? That hand waving in the air feeling as you yell Pick me! Pick me! Which is totally writer code for please love my book.

When I'm in need of a break from revising, editing , and polishing the MS, I set about working on The Amazing Agent Bible of Awesomeness! (said in booming movie voiceover fashion)

I'm not gonna lie to you, researching agents properly takes time, but it is time well spent. So even though it may technically fall into the category of procrastination, if procrastinate you must, at least this project is of the useful variety. *flashes sideways glance at Pintrest*

There are tons of ways to keep track of all the agent info you garner, but I'm a visual person so I created an agent bible that's informative AND pretty to look at. It also negates having to bookmark all the info and then try to find it later, because there is a LOT of info I want to take into consideration as I narrow down my query list. So let's get started, shall we?

Here's how you can create your own fancy agent bible using OneNote. Tweet This!

In the past, OneNote came standard with the student and *I think* home editions of Microsoft Office Suite, but nowadays it is supplied with all editions, so there's a very good chance you have this program and didn't even know it. If you're not sure, check your Microsoft Office programs folder and see if it's there. If it is, open it up and click File, New and choose a name for your first notebook. Once that's done, click Create Notebook to get started.

*Note: I’m using OneNote 2013, so some features may look a little different depending on your software’s version.

You'll end up with a screen that looks like the one below. Your notebook's name is on the top left of the screen. Beside it is a tab titled New Section.

A section can have many pages associated with it. To the right, you can see one untitled page with a tab above it that says Add Page. You can create as many pages as you'd like within a section. 

The giant white space in the middle is your workspace for the selected page.

 Rename the untitled section with the name and agency of the first agent on your list. To do this,  right click on the untitled section and select rename. In this example, I've named the section Victoria Marini, Gelfman Schneider

Next, type a page title on the line provided in the workspace. Whatever you type here will show in the right column, where all of your pages for this section of your notebook will live. The title of my first page in this section is General Info, because I'm going to include all the basics about Victoria Marini.

Now comes the fun part! You can include whatever information you want by inserting, importing, typing or pasting. Everything you enter in the workspace appears in its own little box, allowing you the freedom to move it around without needing to mess with any formatting. This is one of the main reasons I like using OneNote instead of Word or Excel for my agent bible. Since I paste in so much information and pictures, it's a hassle to keep fussing with the formatting.

On the right side, I've included a picture of Victoria Marini from the agency's website and next to it, I've pasted in all of her contact info from QueryTracker. Note that all the links remain active.  Also, a source link is automatically included at the bottom when you paste from a website. This makes it super easy to revisit webpages without having to scroll through a thousand bookmarks.

I've also included Ms. Marini's bio and what she's currently seeking, which I pasted from her blog. Again, all the links are active and a handy link to the source info is included at the bottom.

Now that you have the hang of it, you can click the Add Page button on the right and add more pages to this section. Remember, when you type a title on the line provided in the workspace, it will automatically rename the pages shown on the right.

For each agent, I've included foue separate pages: general info, submission guidelines, interviews, and clients.

After you've added all the info you want to include for your first agent, it's time to create a new section.

Click the plus symbol beside the tab and rename it with your next agent/agency. You now have a new workspace and blank pages to work with.

Go ahead and add your next agent. I have Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency. Again, I start with General Info and then add pages to include the rest. I keep the arrangement of each page the same between agents. You'll see why in a minute.

Here's what it looks like once you've added several sections and pages. A notebook can have as many sections/agents as you like, and each section can have as many pages as you choose.

Submission Guidelines



Above, I said that I keep the arrangement in each section uniform. That's because OneNote allows you to export a page, a section, or even your entire notebook to a PDF, Word, or Excel file. I like exporting to Word where I can do more nitpicky formatting. You can do all this in OneNote, but I do find changing the font over the entire document easier in Word.

Here I add headings, change the font and style, and maybe add a picture or two to make it fun to look at. Below is a two page view in Word once I've done a bit of extras.

Once your agent bible is all sparkly and just the way you want it, you can save it from Word as a .pdf file. And voila! You have your very own fancy shamancy Agent Bible of Awesomeness, and you shall be the envy of all your writing buddies!

There are so many other ways to use OneNote as well, like The Story Bible of Awesomeness! But that’s another post for another day. In the meantime, here’s a OneNote 2013 quick start guide that Microsoft has made available for download if you want to explore all of OneNote's features. 

I’d also like to give a huge shout out to QueryTracker! This is an invaluable resource for finding agents that represent your genre, but it’s also so much more than that. If you haven’t checked out QueryTracker yet, please do. Almost everything on the site is FREE! And free is always good. There are some features that do require premium membership, however at $25 a year, it is well worth it.

Your turn! Have you created your own agent bible of awesomeness? How did you go about it? What types of information are must haves when you research agents for your own MS? I love learning about new tips and tools, so please share your own experiences in the comments.


  1. This is so amazingly fun-fantastic! Thank you for sharing the Agent Bible with me. I'm definitely going to make one. And you made it so easy to understand! :D

  2. Thanks Diane. If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out! And if you need any help, just say the word. :D

  3. This is beyond great! What a fabulous step-by-step, Cheryl. There is just so much information to keep straight while querying. Thank you for putting this together. :-)