You might already know the three things that will determine whether you get a literary agent: 1) The quality of your book, 2) The quality of your query letter (and book proposal, if you’re a nonfiction author), and 3) How you think about the publishing process.
Here’s what you probably don’t know…
As a former literary agent turned author coach, I’ve learned that how you think about the process of getting published is just as important as your manuscript and pitch. In fact, how you think about the process of getting published is possibly the most important.
I’ve seen authors succeed
because of their mindset.
Let’s make sure you have
your head screwed on straight.
As a result, you’ll be more likely to reach your goals—and, if we end up working together in a coaching relationship, you’ll know what to expect.
Knowing vs. Believing
There are certain things you can KNOW as an author prior to getting a literary agent, publisher, and book deal.
You can know:
- You were born to write
- You want to be published as much as anyone
- Your work can help and/or entertain a lot of people
- Your book is better than a lot of other published books
- A literary agent and publisher would be lucky to have you
- You’re willing to do whatever it takes to get published
If you want to get a literary agent, publisher, and book deal…you must also know the basics about how literary agents work, and you must know how to write a good book and pitch materials (query letter and book proposal).
Here’s what you CAN’T know:
- If you’re going to get a literary agent
- If you’re going to get a top literary agent
- How fast those things will happen
- How many rejections you’ll have to endure to get there
- If you’ll have to revise your manuscript based on agent feedback
- If your agent will be able to sell your book
- The type of publisher you’ll get
- The size of your advance
- If you’ll become a bestselling author
If you think you know those things, you’re not thinking straight.
And that can be destructive.
You can (and should) BELIEVE your work is publishable if you’re going to put it out there, but you shouldn’t tell yourself that you (or anyone else) knows more than they could possibly know. You also shouldn’t completely bank on what’s going to happen with your writing—emotionally or financially.
Don’t focus on the wrong things
and don’t put the wrong type
of pressure on yourself.
Or, anyone else.
Don’t believe anyone who says they know you’re going to be successful. Anyone who makes claims like that is ignorant or trying to sell you something. Coaches and consultants can’t know those things. Neither can freelance editors. Or literary agents. Or publishers.
The best we can
do is believe.
IF…the person who believes in your work has a track record of success. I’m not talking about an ignorant-wishful-thinking-hope-or-faith-because-you-work-hard-or-want-something-badly type of thing. I’m talking about a been-there-done-that-so-I-know-what-you-have-going-for-you type of conviction based on experience.
Why is that so important?
If you don’t have the right expectations during the process of trying to get a literary agent (whether you’re going it alone or working with someone helping you), there’s a chance you’ll do some of the following:
- Get frustrated
- Get discouraged
- Get negative
- Get angry
- Give up too soon
- Start hating writing
- Start hating your life
- Stop taking personal responsibility for your success
- Not achieve success
Don’t do that.
Instead, be clear about
what you can and cannot do.
Then breathe life into your belief and turn it into more ACTION. In other words, if you really believe in your ability to get a literary agent, you’ll submit your work to every possible literary agent who might be interested in your book.
Only then will you really KNOW
what’s possible for you as an author.
I have dozens of success stories for authors I’ve worked with but many (most) had wavering belief at some point during their search for a literary agent. It’s only human to start second-guessing something (or, many things) when agents are ignoring you—or picking your work apart.
It’s what you do next
Since you’re going
to do something…
Let’s make sure it’s
a good thing.
Most agents won’t request your work. That’s okay. Most agents who DO request your work will pass on it. That’s okay, too. And that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your book…or that you won’t get an agent. I can’t tell you how often I have to remind my coaching clients of that. Persistence is often just as important as talent. Writing is art and highly subjective. And you only need ONE agent to share your vision for everything to work.
The right agent.
If you query every agent who represents your type of book and you don’t get an offer for representation, you can then pitch another book. Or, you can pitch your first book (without an agent) to smaller but legitimate publishers with national distribution who will let you do that. And, lastly, if none of the above works or you get sick of the process, you can always decide, at that time, to self-publish (though most decent writers can find a decent publisher instead, though it might be a smaller publisher).
The bottom line is you’ll probably find it easier to sleep at night (and it will be better sleep) if you approach the process of getting published this way.
YOU control your destiny.
Make this your year,
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Question About Getting a Literary Agent?
Click here to see The 50 Questions Authors Ask Most (along with answers to the questions) and/or post your question or comment. Click here to see our Guide to Literary Agents. And, click here to see some of our best tips to help you Find a Literary Agent and/or Get a Literary Agent.
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Want help to make your pitch materials for literary agents as good as they can be? Click here to learn how you can get 1-on-1 feedback to improve your pitch material and/or first fifty pages during an Introductory Coaching Call.
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Related Posts – Literary Agent Job Description
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