How To Find A Literary Agent

By on May 19, 2021
How to find a literary agent - Writers Life.org

Looking for a book publishing agent? It’s not as easy as you might think! Unfortunately, nowadays the competition for finding an agent can be just as high as finding a publisher. However, doing so could be your key to success when it comes to finding an audience for your book. 

To find the right literary agent for your project, you’ll need to put the work in and spend time finding the best way to sell yourself and your work. You’ll also need to do lots of research to find the right agent for you. 

How To Find A Literary Agent - Simple Steps To Achieve Your Goal

However, if you follow our simple steps, we can make the process of finding an agent so much easier. So let’s take a look at how to go about it. 

How to find a literary agent tip #1 Find out whether you really need one

If you are a fiction author, the truth is, if you can get a literary agent, you’ll have a much better chance of success. Writers & Artists editor, Alysoun Owen, reveals: "Nearly all fiction authors do require the representation of a literary agent if their book is to be produced by a traditional publishing house. And that is also true with some forms of general non-fiction too — such as histories, memoirs, and biographies.”

If your goal as a writer is to be published by a big publishing house, you also certainly need an agent to get your foot in the door. If your book is more niche, you might not. 

How to find a literary agent tip #2 Who doesn't need a literary agent?

Nonfiction writers, and poets, and those who have written a novel in a very specific and narrow genre are less likely to need an agent. If you’ve written academic or educational work, you also are more likely to be commissioned directly by a publisher. 

Nowadays many authors also choose to self-publish, which also naturally eliminates the need for an agent!

So now you have determined whether you require one, what are the next steps?

How to find a literary agent tip #3 Do your research and make a list

Agents need writers to make money. So you just need to find the agent that’s dying to represent you! It’s your job to discover which agents are looking for authors like you. Put together a shortlist of agents that specialize in your genre. You can use directories such as The Writers & Artists Year Book, or Agent Query, or Publishers Marketplace to help you. Some questions to ask yourself before adding them to your shortlist could be:

Do they represent books in my genre?

Are they looking for new authors?

Does their website and promise appeal to me?

What's their client list ?

Have they had a lot of success?

Are they legitimate?

The last point is important to ensure you don’t waste your time. Agents that ask for a fee upfront are usually not worth bothering with. 

How to find a literary agent tip #4 Send your query

Whatever you do, don’t send out a generic query letter. Make sure you have taken the time to personalize it and write each one separately. This takes more time, but tailoring your query is essential. Agents will spot generic queries a mile off, and they won’t be impressed. Your query letter should be nothing short of perfection. Read the submission guidelines and follow them. 

How to find a literary agent tip #5 Follow up if you don’t hear back

Agents are very busy and often inundated with requests. Lots of agents let you know how long to wait before sending a follow-up. But don’t be afraid to get in touch again if you haven’t had a response. No news isn’t necessarily bad news after all!

How to find a literary agent tip #6 Don’t just say yes!

While receiving a positive response from an agent can be very exciting, don’t just say yes right away. It’s still important to ensure you feel comfortable and happy that this agent is the right agent for you before you sign the contract. Remember if one agent wants to represent you, others probably will as well. 

Don’t rush into any decisions, you only get one shot to get this right!

Finding an agent can take time and effort, but by following these steps you can give yourself the best chance of success and make sure that when you do land your agent, they are the perfect one to sell your book. Good luck!

If you want to learn more about what having a literary agent could entail, why not read 5 questions you should ask your agent?

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