The Literary Agent Search

My Experience and How-to Guide

Why Writers Need a Literary Agent

The publishing process for artists has evolved across all genres, authors included! If you are an author who wants to be published through a company like Simon and Schuster, you need a literary agent. Why is this? Because most well-known distributors do not accept non-agent submissions. Production companies of all types prefer to work directly with agents who speak on the artist’s behalf. Just as film agents represent actors to casting directors, and music agents submit demos to record labels, literary agents represent authors to publishing companies who will then produce and disseminate the literature.

What Do Literary Agents Do?

Literary agents represent authors and their written work to publishers, theatrical producers, and film producers. They expedite the process of review, publication, and distribution. They also assist in the sale and deal negotiations. They are paid a fixed percentage (usually fifteen percent) of the proceeds of sales they negotiate on the author’s behalf.

Another function of the agent is that of an advisor. A well-informed agent knows the market and can be a source of valuable advice. The agent can review the publishing contract and practices to ensure the best interests are met for the author.

How To Get a Literary Agent

Most agencies accept submissions that include a query letter and a sample chapter. The query letter is a one-page synopsis that highlights the novel’s plot, the author’s credentials, and the book’s current marketing potential. Tip: Be sure to carefully line-edit your work before your agent search begins.

My Agent Search

FOR HOURS I scour the internet, reading anything and everything about literary agents. I use an Excel sheet to keep track of agents I’ve submitted to, or am thinking about submitting to. My sheet has columns for the agency’s name, individual agent I’m contacting, their contact info, date sent, what was sent, and responses. I update my list weekly with potential agents who seem like a good fit. Tip: Make sure the agency represents your novel’s genre!

Another option for organizing your agent search is Query Tracker. A free database for Literary Agent tracking.

After two years and two editors my novel is complete, and I am seeking representation! 🙂 My book is about conflict, consequences, and confidence. It is a fast-paced adventure tale that has at its heart a personal journey of human vulnerability. I’ve sent out a few query letters so far, and am keeping my fingers xrossed. 😉

Once I had a good list (a dozen or so) of potential agents, I reviewed all my work again. I didn’t send out any queries until I had re-worked and re-edited my work several times. After all, first impression is important!

And now, a shout out to all fellow artists out there! You are doing great, and your journey will be bright and full of success! If you are seeking representation, good luck and keep me posted! If you are in the working/editing phase, keep it up. The end is in sight! Leave a comment below with all your advice, input, statuses, experiences, or thoughts on ANYTHING! ❤

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3 thoughts on “The Literary Agent Search

  1. Genese,

    Great post. Excellent points about the importance of editing, editing, editing and submitting only when your manuscript is near perfect. This was my biggest mistake, submitting too early. Finally, after shedding about 10,000 words and taking in the advice of a trusted editor, as well as some attention from a New York Times Modern Love essay, I made it.

    Best wishes with your agent-hunting.

    Cheers,

    Natalie

    • Thank you, Natalie. I really like the editing process. I’ve heard from a few editors that other authors they work with can be very protective and unwilling to make edit-changes. But I am the opposite. I get so much value out of outside opinions and reviews. It really brings to light the things I forgot to see. 😉

      It is always so wonderful to connect with fellow writers and share journeys. Ty, ty!

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