Completing your manuscript is an admirable feat. You’ve achieved something many aspiring writers only dream of. The next step is getting your book published, which is easier said than done.
You’ll need to find a publishing agent—and not just any agent, but the right agent for you and your book. Think about it: If you pitch your romance novel to an agent who specializes in academic textbooks, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Finding suitable agents involves significant (but unavoidable) research. You can save yourself some stress and order a list of relevant agents.
Once you’ve identified some potential publishing agents, you need to write a query letter that introduces you and your book to the agent. If you’d like some help, get a professionally written query letter to ensure your query is successful.
The bottom line is that you need to be prepared and understand what kind of publishing agent you need. To get started, here are nine questions to ask yourself during your search for publishing agents.
1. How will the agent represent you and your book to publishers and at events?
Before you contact any publishing agent, make sure you know the type of agent you’d like to work with. How do you foresee them treating you and representing your work not only to publishing companies but also at book fairs or events? Make sure to thoroughly research individual agents to determine whether that agent’s style matches your expectations.
2. Does the agent have experience in your genre?
Publishing agents typically stick to a specific genre or type of book, so make sure you pitch to agents who work with your type of manuscript. Information on previous books the agent has represented can be found easily on their website or with a simple Google search.
3. What kind of reputation does the agent have?
It goes without saying that you want to find a publishing agent with a good track record. If an agent is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, he or she is highly reputable. However, if they’re not a member, that doesn’t mean they’re not a great publishing agent. Look up what books they’ve pitched in the past to get an idea of their reputation.
4. Will you get along with the agent as a person?
Since you’ll have to spend a lot of time with your publishing agent, you’ll need to get along well. Browse their website and look them up on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media channels to learn about their personality, hobbies, and interests.
5. Where should you look for an agent?
There are plenty of publishing agents out there, but where do you find them? Luckily, the internet is brimming with resources for soon-to-be published authors. Consult popular websites such as PublishersMarketplace.com and WritersMarket.com for a large database of publishing agents.
Another option is QueryLetter.com. You tell the service about your manuscript and your publishing goals, and they’ll compile a list of suitable publishing agents who are looking for new writers, along with their contact information and submission guidelines.
6. Is your manuscript finished?
Don’t start pitching to publishing agents before you’ve completed your manuscript. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll ask for the full manuscript, and you’ll want to have it ready for them when they ask.
7. Has your manuscript been edited?
The last thing you want to send to a publishing agent is a manuscript full of typos and grammatical errors. Editing is a must for all manuscripts. It can be difficult to spot your own mistakes and determine what’s unclear, so hiring a professional editor is always a wise investment.
8. Do you have a query letter?
A query letter is an essential part of pitching to publishing agents. You’ll have to send one to every agent you contact. Query letters have to be succinct, well written, and personalized, so they’re not easy to write. If you’re struggling to write a convincing query, contact professional query letter writers to create one for you.
9. Do you have a synopsis?
Once your query letter has piqued an agent’s interest, the agent may request a book synopsis, so be sure to have one ready. Writing a synopsis is a difficult but unavoidable task for many authors. The job of the book synopsis is to convince publishers and agents that your manuscript is publication-worthy. You should keep the synopsis short—no more than two pages—and succinct. To help you get started, consult the wealth of information available online about writing an amazing book synopsis.
Writing the manuscript is only the beginning of the publishing process—there’s a lot more work involved. Finding a publishing agent is a grueling process, but if you ask yourself these nine questions, your search will be significantly easier. With time and effort, you will become a published author.