If you want to be traditionally published, you’re likely to need a literary agent to look after your contracts, translation and TV rights, etc. But how do you go about getting one?
1. TARGET. Make a list of agents who represent work similar to yours. Maybe find out who represents your favourite authors by checking their social media and websites.
2. FOLLOW GUIDELINES. Do your reseach. Most agents list their submission guidelines on their website. Ignore them at your peril.
3. ONLY SEND YOUR BEST WORK. This shouldn’t need saying, but don’t bother submitting anything that isn’t already as good as you can possibly make it.
4. KEEP IT SHORT. An introductory letter needs to introduce you and your work. That’s it. This isn’t the place for a full autobiography. Stick to relevant details. Why are YOU the best person to have written this story?
5. INCLUDE A HOOK. The hook is the central question/concept of your book. What would you do if…? What happens when…? It is a simple human dillemma that sums up the struggle facing your protagonist and draws in the reader.
6. BE PATIENT. Agents get tons of submissions each month and response times of up to three months aren’t uncommon.
7. BE PROFESSIONAL. You wouldn’t want to work with an asshole, and neither will your agent. So, don’t act like one. Be professional and friendly at all times. Even if they eventually pass on your submission, simply thank them for their time and move on. Publishing is a small world and word gets around, and you don’t want to gain a reputation for being difficult.
8. PERSIST. It is highly likely you will get some rejections. If that happens, simply move to the next agent on your list, and keep going. If your book is truly outstanding, someone will express an interest sooner or later.
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