10 Steps To Getting A Literary AgentSome writers have all the luck, but most writers take more than a few tries to unlock the secrets of how to find a literary agent. Martine Fournier Watson shares the story of her journey through rejections over the course of 18 months. Every time I come across the story of J. Rowling being rejected a whopping 12 times, I laugh. It gets even funnier if you happen to know those 12 rejections were from editors considering her manuscript, not agents. When it came to agents, she signed with the second person she queried. The creator of Harry Potter was actually rejected a handful of times!
How to Find a Literary Agent in 109 Easy Steps
If you want to catch the eye of a traditional publisher, you need to be represented by a literary agent. But how do you find an agent— and not just any agent, but the right agent? Subscribe to receive this extra resource. So, you've heard that you need a literary agent, but you're not exactly sure why it's necessary. Is it really worth all that hassle to get a literary agent? If you want to get the attention of a traditional publishing house, you absolutely need a literary agent.
Many first-time authors want to find a literary agent as soon as they put the finishing touches on their debut masterpiece. Fiction writers who want to be traditionally published generally do need a literary agent, while only some non-fiction will need to pursue literary representation. For tips on how to write an effective book proposal, check out this article and its companion piece on submission best practices. Poetry is a good example of this. Also, academic, professional, and the vast majority of educational books are usually commissioned direct from the publisher. A literary agent represents your book to acquiring editors who might want to buy it. In other words, they get an author's foot into the door of a publishing house.
Literary agents—also known as book agents , play an important role in the careers of book authors. They act as representatives of the authors and their written works to industry members. They may approach publishers, film producers, editors, studios, and other outlets as they attempt to market your work. While the agent may assist you in getting your work into the right hands and perform many beneficial duties, they are not always successful and do not work for all types of writers. Technically, the answer is no. But if you want your book to be published by a traditional publishing house , you want a literary agent to represent you. Literary agents are invaluable in a traditional publishing scenario.
How to Get Published
Do you need an agent? Are they worth it? And how do you actually maximise your chances of getting one?
The majority of authors we publish, especially fiction books, will be represented by a literary agent. Cathryn Summerhayes, a literary agent at Curtis Brown, talks to us about what she looks for in a pitch from a new writer. For non-fiction, you need a proposal that gives an overview of the project, a breakdown of the chapters you plan to write and at least one complete chapter to give a sense of your voice and direction. We understand that you will want to submit to more than one agent, but just make sure if you are copying and pasting material over, that you make the necessary changes. Sloppiness suggests your work will be lazy and that you might not be a good self-editor, and ultimately that you might not be the best author for me to represent. This is your audition, your biggest job interview ever, so do put the work in! I like to get a very clear sense that the writer is in this because they love writing, not because they see pound signs flashing up.
You've finished your novel or crafted a professional book proposal , and you've decided you need a literary agent. Now you're thinking, what's next? It may seem like a daunting task, but the good news is that agents need writers—it's how they make their living. The bad news is that they get hundreds, perhaps thousands, of e-mails every day from writers just like you. Here's what you can do to stand out from the crowd. Ask anyone you know in book publishing if they know an agent, or know someone who knows an agent.
Last time, we covered 10 Steps to Writing a Novel. This time, it's 10 Steps to getting a literary agent, though I have to warn you, the most important steps are the novel-writing ones. If a waitress in a restaurant reads you the specials and you ordered one, then she returned to your table to tell you it would be four weeks, how would you feel? Quite annoyed. I had full requests within hours of emailing. Be prepared! You take a comma out, you put it back.