If you’re a new writer just getting started in the professional literary field, you probably don’t have a literary agent. But if you want to make a big splash and earn a career as a serious author, you should consider partnering with a literary agency.
Literary agents will show publishers that you are serious about selling your work. They will help you create a professional book proposal, earn a book deal, and market your book.
Finding a literary agent can be difficult. But don’t worry! When you know what to look for, you’ll be able to source the best agent to fit your needs.
You finished writing your manuscript. Congratulations! In order for your book to reach as many people as possible, you’ll want to hire a literary agent to represent you to the publishing industry and to help market your work. There are a few steps involved here.
First, you’ll need to assemble a submission package. Then, you’ll need to research some literary agents to find out which agencies fit your needs. For instance, one literary agency might specialize in children’s books; another might work with short-story authors; and another might focus on nonfiction.
Additionally, one agency might work only with a traditional publisher, whereas others have a network of indie contacts outside of the traditional publishing industry.
The next step is sending your submission package to a handful of literary agents. Once the agents have reviewed your work, you will basically interview each other to make sure you’re a good fit.
Be selective here—make sure that you choose an agent you’re comfortable with.
There are a few steps involved in finding a literary agent. Each step is very important, so don’t cut corners during this process. You worked very hard completing your book, and it deserves the best attention and care throughout this phase.
Here is a quick look at the four main steps in finding a literary agent:
The first step in finding a literary agent is writing a synopsis of your book. It might be a challenge to condense your masterpiece into just a few paragraphs. But keep in mind that literary agents and traditional publishing companies receive countless unsolicited manuscripts—and a synopsis is a way to set your work apart from other authors’ submissions.
Make sure that your synopsis is short and to the point. Give a high-level view of your story. This needs to be engaging—leave the agent begging for more!
Each literary agency that you contact will have differing requirements for how to submit your work for review. Most agencies will require a synopsis and a query letter.
Some of them will also require at least a portion of your manuscript as a writing sample, so be prepared to send in a chapter or two that really showcase your writing style. Pick the most captivating parts of your book.
Your submission package is your book’s formal introduction to each literary agent, so it has to be impressive!
Writing a synopsis is a difficult task for many authors. It sounds simple enough to summarize what you’ve written.
You’ve spent a very long time working on your characters, plot line, subplots, and all other aspects of your book—so much time, in fact, that you can’t see the forest for the trees. But the synopsis is a crucial aspect of your submission package to each literary agency.
A synopsis is a summary. It provides your audience with a high-level idea of what your full manuscript is about. The synopsis is your book’s first impression to your literary agent, your publishing company, and your potential readers. So it needs to draw people in.
When you begin writing your synopsis, ask yourself one question: Why should people read my book?
Many authors have trouble writing synopses. They’ve been buried within their manuscripts for so long that it can be nearly impossible to separate themselves from the details and provide an overall idea of their stories.
If this sounds familiar to you, you might want to consider hiring a professional ghostwriter to create your synopsis. They’ll be able to look at your book with fresh eyes and ideas and create a riveting synopsis for you.
A synopsis should include a brief description of the overall theme of your book.
If you’ve written a fiction novel, give a brief introduction to the main character and their struggle. If you’ve written a short-story anthology, explain how the different stories tie together. And if you’ve written a nonfiction work, provide a few facts that lead into your main thesis.
Make sure that your synopsis showcases your writing style as well—this must be a good indication of how your full manuscript is written.
Do not include any personal information in your synopsis. Save that for the query letter. Let your synopsis tell your book’s story.
Your synopsis should be short and sweet. Literary agents and publishing companies receive a lot of unsolicited manuscripts, so the idea here is to draw them in with a quick overview. Let them fall in love with your writing and your story so that they can’t wait to dive into your full manuscript.
Less is more when it comes to synopses, especially for new authors. Your synopsis is your gateway to a book deal, so spend some time and resources creating the best summary!
If your synopsis is your book’s first impression as a literary work, then your query letter is your first introduction as an author. The query is similar to a cover letter that you submit with a résumé to a potential job opportunity.
Your query letter will basically state why you want to partner with a literary agent and why the agent should want to partner with you.
Your query letter is an introduction of you as an author to a literary agency. First impressions are important, so you really want to perfect your query letter. To help get you started, here are a few questions that you can answer in your query letter:
Although it might be tempting to include information about your past work in your query letter, try not to. Let this new masterpiece stand on its own.
The best way to begin a query letter is to explain why you want to work with this particular literary agent or agency. Maybe you have met the agent previously. Maybe a friend or family member partnered with the agency for their manuscript. Or maybe the agency focuses on topics that are important to you.
Regardless of the reasons you choose to list, the first section of your query letter should discuss why you have chosen this agency to submit your work. You will have to customize your query letter each time you submit to a new literary agency, so be sure to set aside time for this.
The end of your query letter should provide some information about yourself. This can include a brief explanation of why you chose to write your manuscript on your chosen topic. Or it can talk about what in general led you to become an author.
Be creative! The query letter is another way to draw in an agent who can help you secure a book deal and a lot of book sales.
This should be the shortest section of your query letter. The majority of the letter should focus on why you want to work with the agent and why they should want to work with you.
Make your query letter mostly about the agent, and sprinkle in some information about yourself as you close the letter.
There is so much to think about after you’ve finished your manuscript! Will you print, produce as an ebook, or both? Was writing your book a hobby and a labor of love, or are you hoping to make a living as an established author?
Whatever your goals, hiring a literary agent will help you accomplish them. Once you’ve created your synopsis and general framework for a query letter that can be customized for each literary agency, what are your next steps?
It never hurts to cast a wide net. After all, it’s better to at least have conversations with several literary agents than to put all of your eggs in one basket. In the process of finding a literary agent, it’s best to start general and then move on to the specifics.
As you research potential literary agencies to submit your work to, keep the following questions in mind:
Once you’ve answered the general questions, move on to the specific. Are there literary agencies that specialize in your subject matter? For instance, some literary agents might excel in children’s literature, while others are leaders in the nonfiction world.
Start by submitting your work to three or four specialized agencies. After that, branch out and contact the more general agents.
Each query letter must be personalized to the individual literary agency that you send your submission package to. If you just include a generic letter without any information geared toward each individual agency, the agents will see that you took a shortcut.
Your query letter is your first impression as an author to an agent.
When you personalize your query letter, the literary agency will see that you took the time to tailor the letter to its specific requirements. The agency will take you more seriously as a dedicated writer and give the rest of your submission package the benefit of the doubt.
You spent too much time writing your book to fall short during this phase. Set yourself up for success by putting your best foot forward to each potential agent.
Rejections happen. They are a part of everyday life. All successful authors will tell you that their path to greatness is paved with setbacks and rejections. Writing is not an easy profession!
The important thing to remember is that a rejection is not necessarily a negative reflection of your work—sometimes an author just isn’t the right fit for a literary agent.
So get back on that horse! Keep submitting your synopsis, query letter, and a portion of your manuscript to multiple literary agencies.
Finding a literary agent is not an easy task, and both you and the agent have to be confident that the relationship will be mutually beneficial. You will find the best agent to represent you. But this will require some patience and hard work.
Your book is the result of your hard work. Both you and your manuscript deserve to be successful. And a literary agent can help you achieve that success!
Before you send in your submission package to any literary agency, let Elite Authors help perfect your manuscript. Visit our website today to find out how our range of services will help you put your best foot forward!