How to Find a Literary Agent

Angelique Newman By Angelique Newman, 18th Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2-o25xvb/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

No matter how well a manuscript is written, many publishing houses will not accept a writer’s manuscript unless they have that all-important agent. Here are a few tips to help finding an agent that best suits you.

Is an agent right for me?

If you’re writing poetry or short stories; the answer is most likely no. Agents are interested in book-length manuscripts which will earn them more money.

What are the benefits of having an agent?

Good agents not only offer editorial advice, they get you to the right publishing house, negotiate contracts, foreign sales, movie deals, etc. Good agents will also aid in brainstorming when it comes to promoting your book with you and the publisher and seeing that the publisher is holding up their end in advertising your book. Agents handle the business side of the industry while you the writer can focus your time and energy on writing.

Another reason to choose an agent; agents frequent the same places as editors; they have a more one on one relationship with them and know what the editor is looking for.

As for publishers; publishers are more inclined to accept material from an agent, knowing that the agent weeded out manuscripts that are not suitable for them.

An agent works for you, getting the best dollar for your material. Remember, the more money you make, the more an agent makes.

Worth their weight in gold

Most agents make 10% to 15% (the most common being 15%) on domestic sales and 20% on foreign sales. When dealing with publishing, it's usually best to deal with an agent than a lawyer. Agents are specialist in the field, knowing the in and outs of the marketplace and will most likely save you money and heartache in the end. Think of it like getting a doctor; there’s a general practitioner who deals with all ailments and then you have a specialist who deals specifically in one field. You wouldn’t want a GP working on you if you needed a certain kind of surgery; you would want a specialist who’s trained in that area to do the job.

Always consider the clients the agent represents; are the authors well-known? Has the agent sold recently to large publishing houses?

Never pay an agent before he/she sells your book. Never submit to an agent that charges reading fees, this in most cases is a scam and will lead a writer to the path of regret.

There are reputable agents however that do charge for postage and photocopying.

It is wise to look into the agent's member association; one of them is the Association of Authors' Representatives Inc. (AAR). The agent has to subscribe to Canon of Ethics to meet eligibility requirements to become a member.

Where to find an agent

There are numerous ways to find an agent

• You can contact an author; most often they are gracious enough to give the name of their agent.

• For writers living in the U.S. there's the Literary Marketplace which can be found at the local library. In Canada there's The Canadian Writer's Market

• You can join an organization such as RWA

Historical Novel Society

The Society of Childrens Book Writers & Illustrators

• And many more; here's a site to other organizations; eBook Crossroads Directory of Writers Associations

• Enter a contest that you know the final judges are a reputable agent

Before submitting to an agent I recommend looking at Predators and Editors to see the standing of the agent you’re interested in.

Submitting to an agent

When submitting to an agency, give them time to respond. This all depends on what you submitted; for example if it's a query letter, sample chapters or if it's the whole manuscript. Also it depends on how you sent it, whether it's snail mail or e-mail. Unfortunately, there’s no set time for agencies to respond, each has their own time limit. Some can respond within 24 hours of an e-mail while others can take up to 2 to 3 months. If you’re concerned that your material hasn’t reached them, a simple e-mail or postcard of inquiry in most cases is acceptable. Always be gracious and thank them for their time. Remember agents receive hundreds of proposals each week; they’re juggling writers, publishers, contracts etc. Don’t get on their bad side by e-mailing them multiple times on whether they read your work and definitely refrain from calling them.

The importance of a query letter

This is your one true pitch in capturing an agent's eye.

Number one; make certain you spell the agent's name correctly; if you don't, this is one sure way of shooting yourself in the foot.

The first paragraph should have the name of your manuscript; the genre, time period it’s set in and the word count; you should also mention if your work is completed.

The second paragraph is where you give a brief description of your story. Think of it like the blurp on the back of a novel. Try to keep it within 100 words. Remember you're trying to sell your manuscript to the agent--it has to outshine the other proposals that may be on their desk.

In the closing of the query mention your qualifications; are you familiar with the field you're writing in; have you published before, belong to any organizations, won any awards or finalized in any contests, are you a freelance writer, Blogger, avid reader...

Finally, at the end of your query mention if your manuscript has been sent out to other agents or editors; this is a professional courtesy. Like a resume, give the agent your contact information.

If you send your proposal through snail mail always include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) for their reply. If you live outside of the country, the easiest way to get a reply is to include your e-mail for their response.

Always thank them for their time and consideration.

As for you the writer, instead of feeling restless while you wait for their reply you can put that energy into starting on your next project.



Sources;
http://dianafinchliteraryagency.blogspot.com/
http://www.pw.org/content/literary_agents#q-a_02
http://www.fictionaddiction.net/Agents-Editors-and-Publishers/who-needs-literary-agents/Page-2-alt=-Finding-Literary-Agents.html
http://www.sff.net/people/dan.perez/writing/agents.htm
http://www.sff.net/people/victoriastrauss/agentsearch.html
http://www.suite101.com/content/three-steps-for-researching-and-finding-a-literary-agent-a248023

Tags

Advantages Of Having An Agent, Agents, How To Find A Literary Agent, How To Write A Query Letter, Publishers, Query Letter, Submitting A Manuscript, Writing, Writing Tips

Meet the author

author avatar Angelique Newman
I'm a writer, blogger and a member of RWA. I'm interested in the environment and when I'm not writing I'm usually spending time with my family.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
19th Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks retired and thank you for stopping by :)

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks Jerry :)

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author avatar ppruel
19th Jan 2011 (#)

Interesting article friend. Useful tips. Thanks.

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you kindly ppruel :)

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author avatar Barbara10Broek
20th Jan 2011 (#)

I once attended a Romance Writers of America Convention. I was allowed to present my book to agents and publishers in one on one situations. It was great! By book did not sell but I got great feedback and encouragement

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

That's great that you got to attend a convention Barbara! I never had the pleasure but I do belong to RWA and their online chapter. I have to say they're a wonderful group of people who share the same interest and are always willing to share advice.

Wishing you all the best with your book you have a great knack for writing :)

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author avatar Retired
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks for sharing. Great piece of work and tips.

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Thanks Martin; I appreciate you stopping by to take a look :)

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author avatar James R. Coffey
20th Jan 2011 (#)

REALLY do your homework before choosing an agent.

Also: Please welcome if you will my friend and the newest addition to our writing family, rama devi nina. Thanks, guys.

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Well said James!

And I will look for rama devi nina to welcome them :)

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author avatar Denise O
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Well written and great advice.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you Denise and for popping by to take a look :)

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author avatar Greenfaol
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Excellent and informative article. i really enjoyed this and have bookmaked it, as I'll need to go over it again :D Will twitter it too, thanks :D

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you kindly Greenfaol! You totally made my day :) thanks again.

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author avatar Artur Victoria
30th Jan 2011 (#)

Congratulations for the very informative article !

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author avatar Angelique Newman
30th Jan 2011 (#)

Thank you Artur :)

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author avatar D in The Darling
11th Feb 2011 (#)

I forgot to ask you if you're an agent. This is just so hands on. Thanks a lot for sharing this invaluable information.

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author avatar Angelique Newman
15th Feb 2011 (#)

Thanks dinthedarling :)
No I'm not an agent; I just did a lot of research for the article. I've been interested in writing for years and it was one of the topics I gravitated to. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look at it.

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author avatar Martin King
25th Feb 2011 (#)

very interesting thanks for sharing

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author avatar christopheranton
15th Mar 2011 (#)

Thanks for that really useful article. I shall bookmark it,
so I can keep coming back to it.
Simply priceless.

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author avatar Angelique Newman
20th Mar 2011 (#)

Thank you for your comments christopheranton, its greatly appreciated:)

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author avatar Javrsmith
10th Jul 2011 (#)

Great advice. My daughter-in-law needs to follow up on this. Thanks very much!

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author avatar Angelique Newman
16th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you Javrsmith, your words are much appreciated :)

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author avatar wordsplaytoday
6th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you great advice!

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author avatar Angelique Newman
17th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you wordsplaytoday :)

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author avatar Nitul anand
15th Aug 2012 (#)

Thanks for your nice informative page ...
please share emotions about my pages...CU

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author avatar Angelique Newman
15th Oct 2012 (#)

Thank you Nitul anand; thanks for reading :)

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