A Rough Guide to Literary Agents

Posted: January 23, 2015 in graffiti living
Tags: , , , , , ,

How do you get published? Write a good novel. How do you get an agent? Write a good novel. But what about self-publishing? Write. A. Good. Novel.

Write the best novel you can. Then make it better. Don’t even bother thinking about agents or publishers until you’re done.

Good to go? Ready to contact publishers? You need an agent.

  • An agent is a necessary go-between. They’re the spokesperson for the author in negotiations.
  • Don’t approach publishers directly, you’ll end up on the slushpile. Get yourself an agent.
  • When writing to them, to gain their interest, remember to say where you studied and your publication track-record. If you’ve experience that’s relevant to the book you’re pitching also mention that.
  • Your working relationship with your agent is more important than your relationship with the publisher. You must have a good agent-writer relationship.
  • Agents may work editorially with you before presenting your work to publishers but publishers no longer do.
  • Any agent worth their salt will fight your corner, earn their cut and get you the best deal.
  • Advance and Royalties are important, as are film rights, foreign rights and digital rights. Give away as little as you can in negotiations.
  • Agents are cool.
  • Agents are your friend.
  • Agents have a better view of the market than you do.
  • Agents make sure you get paid.
  • The agent-writer relationship can become a lifelong agreement.
  • Agents earn from your earnings, not before they sell you. If any agent asks for money upfront, walk away.
  • You can be an agent and get published too, but you’d have less time for either.
  • It’s best not to be your own agent.
  • Agents have their own preferences and specialisms so make sure your work ends up in front of someone who wants to read your stuff.
  • An agent must LOVE your work to take you on.
  • Agents want an original voice and a good story. Something different / challenging in the way it’s written. You also need to get them at gut emotional level. You need some sort of connection AND an original voice AND a good story.
  • LITERARY FICTION is a genreless genre. You have to find a way to talk about your work (eg. in your opening letter).
  • It’s important to locate an individual in the firm. Think in terms of particular agents, not just the agency, even with the big firms.
  • It’s always a good idea to phone around first, or at least speak to the receptionist and ask who to send your manuscript to.
  • Get to know the agent you’re sending stuff to. Don’t stalk them, just make sure you know what they want and who they’ve represented in the past.



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