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Finding a Literary Agent: 5 Tips for Success

Are you looking for a literary agent to represent you and your book in the publishing industry? The search for a literary agent can be overwhelming, and it’s difficult for new authors to know where to start. How can you find an agent who is trustworthy and worth the money they charge? How can you learn how to write a compelling query letter? (You can always ask the professionals to write a query letter for you.) Here are five tips to help you find the right literary agent.

1. Excite your agent

Literary agents put significant effort into representing you, so try to find one who’s passionate about your work. An agent who is excited about your book will readily transmit that excitement to your audience.

Before you begin your search for a literary agent, check out books that are similar in theme, style, or genre to your manuscript, and research who represented those books. Authors often thank their agents in a book’s acknowledgments section, so start your search for names there.

An even easier method is to simply order a spreadsheet with the contact information and submission preferences of literary agents likely to be interested in your work.

2. Examine the literary agent’s track record

In addition to interest in your genre, your literary agent should have a good reputation. Unfortunately, you may stumble across scammers in your search, so request a list of previously published books from any potential literary agent. Make sure the publishers are also reputable, and investigate the books to determine the quality for yourself. There’s more research involved in finding a literary agent than looking up information on the individual agent alone.

3. Beware of suspicious fees

Look for a literary agent who asks for a commission, not upfront fees. Scammers may request so-called reading fees, critique fees, or editing fees, whereas reputable literary agents won’t charge for such fee-based services.

4. Determine whether the agent belongs to the Association of Authors’ Representatives

The Association of Authors’ Representatives boasts high standards that its members are required to meet, so if a literary agent is on their member list, he or she is reputable. Do keep in mind, however, that just because an agent doesn’t appear on the list does not mean he or she isn’t reputable.

5. Follow your agent’s submission guidelines

After drafting a list of potential literary agents, check out their websites to learn their submission preferences. Disregarding an agent’s submission guidelines is a great way for your proposal to get tossed unread in the trash.

Finally, most literary agents will ask for a query letter, which is an essential tool for promoting your manuscript and selling yourself as an author. One option is to learn how to write a query letter yourself. A better option is to order a professionally written query letter. Whether you write one yourself or hire the professionals, a high-quality query letter will increase your chances of finding a literary agent who can help you achieve your publishing goals.



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