All right, so you think that you’ve written something worthy of publishing. Congrats, for making it this far! You deserve a pat on the back for all of your hard work and dedication. And now it’s time to take the next step.
So you’ve found yourself trolling the net, trying to dig up the dirt on how to snag a literary agent and landed here. Well, I’ll give you the short version of how to get started.
The golden rule of agent querying is that you must research each agent before submission—getting a feel for what each agent likes to represent. Agentquery.com is a nice tool to get a running list of all of the literary agencies out there. You need to visit each of their agency and/or personal websites and not rely on their info listed out there on alternate websites, as it is often out of date. Also, there isn’t enough insight to his or her current likes or dislikes, just a list of potential genres (that may or may not be what they are currently looking for).
In your search, you should be making a spreadsheet of each agent’s preferred submission guidelines. Do as they ask or your query might get lost in the shuffle.
Here is a list of additional resources that you may find helpful:
Go to the Publisher’s Marketplace site. They provide loads of information about their clients, deals, etc.
AAR – Association of Author’s Representatives – It’s like an Agent Yellow Pages, with differing information about each agent.
And, please, don’t forget Agentquery.com.
For print, there is Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. Look for this annual on amazon.com.
After you’ve compiled your agent list, it’s time prioritize and narrow down your cream-of-the-crop agents and write your query letter (gulp!). Yep! It’s that time. It’s time to put up or shut up. Introducing yourself and your book with a succinct and professional query letter isn’t easy but you owe it yourself to take your time on it. You’re almost there. A query letter is your golden ticket to Publisherville, and it is as important, if not more important, than the book that you’ve written. It’s most likely taken you a couple of years to complete your first manuscript, so please, I can’t stress enough, please, take your time and PROOFREAD!
Your letter should include these elements:
- You, absolutely, positively, need to connect to the agent in once sentence. Have you met your agent? Were you referred by a credible advocate? Do they represent a specified genre?
- Write a summary (please don’t divulge the whole story line). Also, agents are notoriously busy—the quicker you hook them, the better your chances are for a request.
- Do tell you wrote the book. Have you had any other endorsements regarding your book that would be relevant to your future agent?
- Do you have any credentials that support your writing career? Have you been published in the past?
- Wait a minute…please be sure to proofread your query letter before you hit that send button!
Remember to be gracious and say thank you for whatever feedback comes down the literary pipeline. If you get an immediate reply and gel with a particular agent—hats off, job well done! If you don’t have an initial interest, don’t be discouraged. Agents are inundated with queries every day (up to 100 a day for popular agents) while keeping up with their current client list.
One more thing…keep forging ahead while you wait. Get started on your next bestseller—sharpening your writing skills and boosting your credentials. The sharper your craft is, the more you’ll fine tune your niche and the more you’ll improve your chances to snag that perfect agent!
Remember, becoming an author takes time, practice, persistence, and patience. I hope that this post was even the tiniest bit helpful. WRITE ON!
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