Now that your novel has been edited by you and someone(s) else it's time to search for an agent. Please don't go searching for one until your book is completed. They might ask to see it all so even if it needs to be professionally edited, have it done. I am unfamiliar with the world of self-publishing so I don't think I can give much advice about that. However, if you choose to go that way I'm going to tell you the same thing I will tell someone who wants to find an agent: do your research.
As writers this should be familiar territory. For everything we write some research must be done. The same could be said for finding an agent. When I started looking for an agency to represent me I began looking at authors whom I write similar to, as well as authors that I read and admire. I used this website to search for their agencies. http://www.querytracker.net/ Many of the authors that I write like were listed on here. From there I went to their agency's website and looked at how to submit my query (which I had already researched how to write what agents were looking for--another blog for another day). Once I saw the directions for each agent's website I followed them to a T. No one wants unprofessional queries or people to email them that hadn't followed their explicit directions. I'm assuming they would immediately reject those who did not do what they had asked.
I submitted the query via email for most agencies because that's what is preferred nowadays. There were some that asked for mail, which I complied with as well. Many want you to find the agent that fits you best based on what you write. Do not email an agent that only takes children's literature submissions and you write erotica. They will not like that very much. When emailing a particular agent, find out who they are and address the email to them directly. Maybe mention a particular author that they represent and explain why you chose to email them specifically.
**Some agencies do not like when you submit your queries to multiple agencies at a time, but I took my chances by sending out as many as possible.
Some ask for a simple query and short bio while others want a bio, mention of any published work you have, summary of the entire novel, including the ending, sample chapters, as well as your query. It all depends on the agency so make sure, again, that you check their criteria. Something else that my agency in particular has mentioned before is not to brag on yourself. Do not put in your email that this is the best book the agent will ever read. Agents tend to balk at that kind of presumptuousness. Keep it professional and about your work. Do not go on and on because agents get queries hundreds of times a day.
After sending out your queries the next thing to do is wait. Unfortunately some you won't ever hear from, but usually most agencies will send you a rejection email and be extremely polite about it. It does take the sting out of it, I will admit. But then one day you'll get an email that asks for more chapters or the entire book because they're interested. Then they decide they want to represent you and you get a phone call to talk about contracts. And that part, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty amazing.
Next week I will talk more about the query process, which, if you're like me, can be difficult to sum up your novel in just a few sentences. Please comment or send me a message if you want more information. Good luck fellow writers and as always happy reading!