Why go it alone? If you want the best chance possible to get your work in the hands of interested editors, a literary agent is crucial. They will help you polish your work, find editors that are engaged with your style and genre, explain the ins and outs of contracts and wade the murky waters standing between you and publishers.
How do you find an agent?
To find an agent that would be keen to work with you, you want to make sure that they read and represent your genre. Here is a very short synopsis of how you would go about finding a literary agent that is perfect for you:
- Make a list of books similar to yours. Find out who represented those authors. You may find this on the acknowledgment page of the book, or, if it is not listed, you can contact the publishing company.
- Send out personalized queries to each of the agents. If you have a large list, start by sending out five at a time. Be sure you do not send out the same form letter to each one – they will notice. You want to make sure they are specific for the agent you are contacting. If you want to make you query shine, you may want to check out Writing a Query that Stands Out at Writer’s Digest Tutorials
- Interested agents will ask to see your manuscript. They may want the whole thing or just a few chapters. Be certain that you read their requirements and follow them closely! NOTE: If they ask for a reading fee, move on. Genuine agents do not ask for money up front.
- As much of a hurry as you’re in, and as excited as you will be when an agent wants to sign you, refrain from immediately entering a contract before asking a few things:
- What are the terms of the contract between you and the agent/agency?
- What will the agent’s percentage be?
- What other authors has the agent had published and what publishing houses does he/she work with/have relationships with?
- How will your book be presented to publishers? How does the agent typically go about promoting?
- Will any other rights be included such as secondary rights for films, foreign translations, ebooks, etcetera?
- Will you be billed for any other extenuating charges?
- If all the terms seem satisfactory, go ahead and sign that contract and get that book out there. Congratulations – you are well on your way to becoming a published author!