5 quick tips for a literary agent – where and how to find one

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5 quick tips for a literary agent – where and how to find one
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If you want to become an author, you will need to find a literary agent. Agents can help you not only get your book ready for publication, but they can help you get your foot in the door with potential publishers.

Finding a publishing company on your own versus trying to find one through an agent can be very different. Most agents know people at publishing companies or have a reputation for finding great books, so you can use their reputation to get your book published.

The question is, how can you find a good agent and get them to represent your book?

In this article, we’ll look at tips from a literary agent. You’ll learn what they do, how to find them, what you need to know as a writer, how to pitch them, and more.

What does a literary agent do?

Literary agents are the middle man between you and the publisher. They are the ones who help get your manuscript to publishers who might publish your book.

Once you’ve found a publisher, they’ll often be the ones to guide you through the process of getting all the publishing details together, such as negotiating contracts, putting together a solid manuscript, and fighting to get paid what you’re worth.

If you are comfortable pitching and negotiating with publishers, you may not need an agent. However, most writers just want to be creative and write instead of doing everything else that goes into publishing a book. In that case, you will need an agent.

Also, agents can save you tons of time because they know the industry and the people in it, so they can get down to business right away. If your agent has a good reputation, people in the industry will be more likely to talk to them compared to a new author they don’t know.

How literary agents help you get published

Literary agents not only help you find a publisher, but they also help you prepare before you even begin the pitching process.

Good agents will help you prepare your manuscript and make sure it’s ready to impress potential publishers. They will know how to position your book in a way that will intrigue publishers so that your book has a better chance of being selected.

Some of the biggest publishing companies often only talk to agents and rarely accept individual manuscripts from independent authors.

Keep in mind that most agents make their money through commissions, so they will fight to get you the best deal as an author. Because of commissions, some authors choose to self-publish because it can be quite a high percentage.

Typically, agents receive a 15% commission on book deals.

TWL.  CTA.  Book outline template

Tips from a literary agent

If you’re ready to commit to finding a literary agent, let’s take a look at how you can contact them and prepare for your pitch.

First and foremost, you’ll want to focus on finding an agent who has a good track record and is a good fit for your type of book. You need an agent who understands your style and is willing to promote it on your behalf.

Otherwise, you could end up wasting a ton of time talking to agents who won’t help you publish your book and trying to pitch them.

Different types of literary agents

There are different types of agents depending on what type you need or what book you are going to publish.

For the most part, you will find an agent who works on their own agenda.

Some of these include those who just want to make a quick buck, those who want to help you perfect your art, and those who want to work with you for the long term.

They will all offer different things, so it’s important to sit down and ask yourself what you need from an agent. Do you need additional support? Someone tough in negotiations? Can anyone help guide you? Someone you want to build a career-long relationship with?

The answers to these questions will help you find the right option.

Where to find literary agents

Let’s dive into where to find an agent that might be right for you.

Literary agent databases

There are databases online with lists of agents you can contact.

Some sites include:

Twitter

Twitter is a popular platform for authors and agents to find each other. You’ll want to join writing groups and keyword search various agents on this platform to connect.

It can also help you stay on top of editors you might want to work with. You can find out when they’re looking for new writers, other hobbies they might have, and stay in touch with them.

You can find specific hashtags, lists or Twitter Spaces related to the post. It may take time to find the ones that are a good fit, but it will be worth every second of work if you can sell your book.

Networking events

There are many literary networking events you can attend. Meeting someone face-to-face has more impact than a faceless email.

You’ll want to spend some time perfecting your pitch before you attend the event. Having a strong reason why editors should be involved and excited about your book will help you stand out from other writers.

How to pitch a literary agent

You will need to make sure you do your research before you start pitching to an agent. You need to know the basics of who they are, what other types of books and authors they already represent, and why you would be a good addition to their roster.

The last thing you want to do is pitch to an agent who isn’t interested in your genre or style, mainly because you’ll end up running around trying to get them to choose you.

Instead, you want to direct agents to where they would already like to choose you based on a certain number of factors.

If you’re going to do the hard work to connect with them, you might as well make sure the odds are in your favor.

Creating your query letter

While there are many common mistakes made with query letters, there isn’t always a set way to word them. However, there are some guidelines you can work with.

First, you want to make sure it’s no more than two or three paragraphs. You want to draw attention to yourself as quickly as possible and keep it straight to the point.

Once you know the total length, you’ll want to make sure you cover:

  • Why they should be interested in your book
  • A very a brief summary of what your book is about
  • Why do you think this agent is right for you?
  • Information about who you are (if you’ve won writing awards, now is the time to mention them)
  • Manuscript (on request only, as some do not accept without request)

Don’t forget to personalize each request. Too many writers just send the same thing over and over and then wonder why no one responds.

Relatives:

Stay persistent

Keep in mind that you’ll often have to send hundreds of proposals and requests to get a response from an editor, especially if you’re a first-time writer.

Rarely will you hit it out of the park in the first few throws.

You have to keep building your brand, keep writing, and keep performing. All you need is one of them to say yes, but you’ll have to stay persistent.

Need a guide to your book?

TWL.  CTA.  Book outline template



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