Finding an Agent for Writers Holland MI

Finding an agent, the professional who will serve as your connection to the publishers, is the next step you need to take after writing your book. In a nutshell, a literary agent is the one responsible for selling your book to the publishing house and kick starting your writing career.

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Finding an Agent for Writers

Many aspiring writers believe that they simply have to write their manuscripts to become a published writer. But because of the competition and the number of manuscripts being pedaled out there, this isn’t possible. Finding an agent, the professional who will serve as your connection to the publishers, is the next step you need to take after writing your book. In a nutshell, a literary agent is the one responsible for selling your book to the publishing house and kick starting your writing career. He will help shape your work, help polish your work, help you create an outline and cover letter for your work, submit and sell the work to publishing houses, and help market it once it is sold and published by the publishing. In short, the agent is responsible for your writing career and publishing future.

But finding an agent is not as easy as an aspiring writer would hope.

The basics of finding an agent

First, let’s work on the basics of finding an agent.

There are some success stories wherein the writer found an agent through the virtue of his or her work’s quality—and not necessarily because of the work itself. Perhaps one of the most recent examples of this is British writer Zadie Smith. Her agent found Smith. Or, to be precise, the agent found a publisher for Smith’s first novel by convincing the publishing house that her novel will be a literary success judging from her short fiction works. In short, she found a publisher for a book that has not been even completed. But this is the exemption rather than the rule. In real life, the first thing you have to do before you can think about finding an agent and a publishing house is finish your work. Agents get writers by the virtue and marketability of the work. Unless you are a celebrity or a well known figure (which is the case for celebrity memoirs or fiction books by celebrities), you need to have a finished work first.

Others may say that you can already look for an agent before after the first step. However, you can take some extra steps in order to achieve success on the succeeding steps. You can establish your credentials first. Good writers rarely come out of nowhere. Zadie Smith gained the attention of an agent through her shorter fiction works in college. Dave Eggers, renowned American novelist and Pulitzer-nominated non-fiction writer, was already publishing short stories and journalism pieces before he came out with his first and renowned work Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Stephen King, who is arguably one of the most popular writer alive, wasn’t exactly an acclaimed writer when he released his first novel, Carrie, but he currently was no neophyte either. He already slugged it out by publishing short stories here and there.

If you are serious with your writing career, you will do something to actually make a semblance of a writing career in your credentials. When finding an agent, you will look at his or her credentials. But the agent will also look at your publishing credentials and writing career thus far. You may have written the best novel ever, but you need to make it seem as if you have enough publishing credentials to make you the possible author of the best novel ever written. Having a solid writing career prior to the publication of your work is the best way to sell your work beyond the work you are selling.
You can do this by joining workshops, submitting short works (or excerpts of your work) to publications, enrolling in a postgraduate writing course, winning (legitimate and credible) writing contests. The very basic thing to do is get your work out there. But what you should be doing is showing what you’ve got.

Publishing tools

In fact, if you have a promising writing career, you may not even have to find an agent; the agent, and even the publishing house, can come to you.

But this is a long shot. You will probably have to find an agent for your work. You can use online resources such as the Writer’s Market, the Literary Marketplace, and the Association of Author’s Representative to help you find agents and other publishing resources. However, these tools cannot be used as a short cut to the next step in finding an agent and publishing your work: researching about literary agents.

As mentioned earlier, you should asses your literary agent’s credentials. This should be easy; all you have to do is check the books the agent has sold to publishers. Of course, this is assuming that you have already chosen an agent. If not, there are a number of things you can do: visit the websites the Writer’s Market, the Literary Marketplace, and the Association of Author’s Representative or check out who are the agents of the authors of your favorite books. The latter technique works because it already presents you a great credential: he is the agent responsible for publishing one of your favorite books.

Now it’s time to write a query letter. The query letter will serve as your cover letter, asking the agent to read your work to judge whether he should represent you or not. What should remember when finding an agent: an agent probably gets numerous query letters every day. Therefore, you need to do it right—and do it well, to instantly get the attention of the agent.

Essentially, the basic structure of a query letter is as such: it should say why you chose to send him in particular a query letter and an introduction to your work (genre, title, word count); it should state the plot, story, characters, hook, and/or general flow of your work; and it should include your writing credentials. Basically, it should show that your letter was written specifically for the agent (and that it wasn’t sent in bulk to other agents) and it should represent your work properly (and show why you and your work should be represented). Lastly, the credentials show that you have done your work in your writing career and publishing endeavors.