How to Find a Literary Agent

Finding an agent is one of the hardest steps on the road to publication. Its importance can’t be stressed enough: a good agent will provide feedback on your manuscript, get it on the desks of prospective editors, and make certain you get the best possible deal.

1.Finish Your Novel

As a pre-published author, you’re not ready to begin hunting for an agent until your novel is completed and polished. Join a local critique group to get feedback about your manuscript. If you can’t find a face-to-face group, consider joining an online critique group. There are many that cater to different styles of writing. If that’s not an option, pay a freelance editor to offer commentary.

Whatever you do: don’t query until the manuscript is complete and perfect.

2. Build Your Platform and/or Your Credibility

Non-fiction writers need to show credentials in the same area as the book they are proposing. This could be a degree (the more advanced the better), serving as spokesperson on the topic, working in the field, and/or speaking to people at seminars or conventions devoted to the subject.

For fiction writers, platform-building can be a chicken-or-the-egg kind of problem. It’s tough to build a following without a book to promote, and it’s hard to publish a book without that following, but there are ways to go about it. Christina Katz’s book, Get Known Before the Book Deal is an excellent resource.

Some pursuits fiction writers might try: teaching literature or creative writing classes (or tutoring in the field), maintaining a blog, attend prestigious writer’s camps, or win awards for their writing.

3. Learn About the Business

Ideally, you should be learning about the publishing business while you’re writing your novel and building your credibility. Attend major writing conferences and talk to agents and authors (this is not the time to tell an agent you have a book he should read). Read author and agent blogs. Visit their Web sites and the Web sites of publishers.

You want to know as much as you can about the business. When an agent comes knocking, you want to appear savvy, smart and knowledgeable.

4. Publish Short Fiction or Articles

It’s long been debated whether publishing short fiction can build you enough credibility to interest an agent. Some editors say that writing short fiction doesn’t prepare you for writing a novel. Others disagree. They say publication credits (in reputable media) show you’re serious about being published. Also: the process may toughen your skin for rejection and provide some editing experience.

Publishing articles related to a non-fiction book you’re proposing – again in reputable media, such as trade magazines or newspapers – almost always lends credibility. Publication proves that other editors believe in your credentials.

5. Research Prospective Agents

Just like doctors, agents specialize. You’ll want to find one that represents the type of work you write. and the Association of Authors’ Representatives ( are two Web sites you can research to find agents.

Once you make a short list of agents, visit their Web sites and blogs to find the specific books they’re represented. Have you read any of them? Are they similar to yours? Would you want to read those books? (If not, consider if this is the right agent for you.)

After doing your research, if you still want to query this agent, find the requirements for submitting to them. Some will accept email. Some won’t. Some will want a query letter and a synopsis. Others will want only a query letter.

6. Write a Query Letter (and Possibly, a Synopsis)

A query letter is like an audition. It’s your one-page introduction to your chosen agent. It should contain only a few brief paragraphs: the type of book you’re trying to sell along with the word count; a brief, compelling summary of the book; and your credentials: why this agent should represent you.

A synopsis is a three-to-five page summary of your book. It should be written as carefully as your novel, in the same voice, and contain all the plot points and spoilers.

Have both of these reviewed by the same people who critiqued your original manuscript. Is the letter error-free? Does the synopsis match the tone of the novel? Pay just as much attention to these two items as you did your novel. If the synopsis isn’t well-written, agents won’t ask to review a full manuscript.

7. Send Your Queries

Send your targeted query package (letter, synopsis and anything else the agent requests in his guidelines) to your three-to-five “top choice” agents. It’s considered unprofessional to “spam” vast numbers of agents at one time.

If all reject you, send out to your second choice agents.

8. Be prepared.

This is where having a completed, polished manuscript serves you well. An agent who likes your query is going to request either a partial – so many pages or chapters – or a full manuscript from you. Since yours is complete, you’ll be able to send at moment’s notice: the exact amount of time to prove (again) that you’re a professional who’s ready to be published.

In a nutshell, finding an agent is as easy as (or as hard as) writing well, making a good first impression and being professional. There is no certain method to obtaining an agent, but following these steps, can increase a writer’s chances.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Source by Kelly A Harmon

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