How to Get a Literary Agent

Many publishing houses won't even consider publishing your book unless it's submitted by a literary agent. Here's how to get one to represent you.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Finish your book Finish your book. Some literary agents won't consider you based only on a draft.
  • Step 2: Find literary agents Find books and web sites that list agents willing to consider unpublished authors. Make a list of the ones who represent the kind of book you've written.
  • Step 3: Write a cover letter Prepare a one-page cover letter that summarizes your book, and personalize it for each agent.
  • TIP: Double-check the spelling of every agent's name and visit the agency's web site to make sure they're still with the agency.
  • Step 4: Mention previous work If you've had anything published, like an article or a short story, say so in your letter. But keep any accomplishments or biographical information brief.
  • Step 5: Don't brag Don't brag that your book is going to "make us both rich" or "be a best seller." Boasting in a letter isn't any more appealing than it is in person. Refrain from calling yourself "the next" anyone. That is up to the agent to decide.
  • Step 6: Enclose any additional material Enclose anything else the agent might request, like a summary of your book or the first several chapters. Don't stray from each agent's submission guidelines, which should be listed on the agency's web site or in the resource you used to find the agent.
  • TIP: Beware of agents who ask for money up front; reputable literary agents only make money if they sell your book.
  • Step 7: Send a SASE If you want your manuscript back, include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • Step 8: Be patient Send off your package, and then be patient. It could take months for you to hear from an agent. Pestering the person could speed up the process … but probably not in your favor!
  • FACT: Did you know? Three thousand books are published daily in the U.S.

You Will Need

  • A manuscript of the book you've written
  • A cover letter
  • Names and addresses of literary agents
  • A self-addressed
  • stamped envelope
  • Patience

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