You don't need a booking agent in order to book yourself a tour. Many of my most successful tours have been booked entirely by me, and I'm going to share three quick tips I've learned that'll save you countless hours of trial and error.
1. Keep Your Booking Pitch SHORT and to-the-point
Promoters, venue owners, talent-buyers - they receive hundreds of emails per day. If they see a long email from someone they don't know or they've never heard of, they are likely to just ignore it. Only include the essential information and your best highlights, and don't be afraid to use bullet-points or shorthand in order to reduce the amount of text. Below is a screenshot of the first email I ever sent to a venue with whom I now have a great relationship, and where I perform regularly:
2. Research The Venues' Calendar
This will really set you apart from the crowd. A lot of venues will be reluctant to offer you a headline slot, but if you go on their website calendar and find bands or artists who you think you'd be a great opener for, they'll be much more likely to offer you a support slot. It makes it much easier for them to imagine a successful show involving you than if you just ask blindly to perform, and if you impress them, you might get offered a headline spot down the road.
3. Use indieonthemove.com
If you aren't aware of this website yet, you are seriously missing out. It's basically a giant database of almost every venue in the US, and a number of other countries too. It includes contact info that you often won't find on the venues' websites, info about the venue including which genres they present, the venue capacity, and a star-rating determined by artists who have performed there. It makes it a thousand times easier to find venues to play, and I've used it to book almost every tour I've done myself. Here's a link to their site: www.indieonthemove.com/home
So there you have it! Of course, there are other aspects to booking, but these three tips are some of the most effective. Keep checking back here for more valuable tips for musicians and artists!