Find a literary agent, but not before you’re ready. There are four things that every aspiring author needs to do before trying to locate and secure a literary agency. Scroll below now to find out what they are.
This article is part of a 15-part training called Finding a Literary Agency.
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Find a Literary Agent Checklist
If you think you’re ready to find a publishing agent, make sure you’ve done the following things first. When books agents contact you to request more material, they won’t want to wait. Instead, they’re going to lose enthusiasm, question your commitment, and (quite possibly) reject your work.
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Item #1: Before You Try to Find a Literary Agent
Sample Chapters or Finished Manuscript
There are different requirements for fiction and nonfiction authors trying to find a book agent (see below):
- Fiction Authors: If you’re a novelist, you must have your novel finished before you try to find a book agent. The reason book agents and publishers want a finished novel (unless you’re a celebrity) is that it’s a lot easier to start a novel well than it is to also finish it.
- Nonfiction Authors: You don’t necessarily need to have your nonfiction book completed, before you try to find a literary agent. Instead you can submit 3 or more sample chapters, along with a comprehensive book proposal (see below). However, it will be easier to find a literary agent to represent you if your nonfiction book is already finished.
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Item #2: Before You Try to Find a Literary Agent
Most of the time authors don’t need to know how to write a book proposal unless they’re trying to find representation for a nonfiction book. However, some publishing agents are now starting to ask authors to submit fiction book proposals as well.
A book proposal has four parts:
- About the Book: This section explains what the book is about and who the target market is.
- Competition: This section compares and contrasts your book with “similar” titles in your genre.
- Biography: This section provides detailed information about you, relevant to your book, that conveys your credibility.
- Marketing: This section outlines the steps that you’re going to take to promote your book.
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Item #3: Before You Try to Find a Literary Agent
If you’re trying to find a book agent, you’re also going to need a book synopsis or a short summary explaining what your manuscript is about.
- Fiction: Create two versions of your book synopsis (short and long) before you try to find a book agent. The short synopsis should be 1-2 pages. The long synopsis should be approximately 1 synopsis page for every twenty-five pages of your manuscript. Submit the short synopsis to literary agents unless they ask for the long version.
- Nonfiction: You also need a book synopsis if you’re trying to find a literary agent for a nonfiction book. Create two versions of your nonfiction book synopsis (short and long). The short synopsis (2-5 sentences) should appear in your query letter. The long synopsis (2-10 paragraphs) should appear in your book proposal (see above).
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Item #4: Before You Try to Find a Literary Agent
Having your novel or nonfiction book professionally edited is another important step to take before you try to find a literary agent. It’s a sign that you’re a professional author. There are two different types of editing.
- Content Editing:This type of editing costs more money because it requires greater skill, and not as many people can do it well.
- Fiction: Some of the things you might get help with in this area include plot and subplot, story arc, pacing, setting, characterization, dramatized conflict, dialogue, etc.
- Nonfiction: Some of the things you might get help with in this area include structure, accuracy, logic, clarity, pacing, voice, etc.
- Line Editing: This type of editing is all about mechanics: formatting, grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.
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Conclusion – Find a Literary Agent
Before you try to find a book agent, make sure you put some serious thought into the process. You’ve put months or years into writing your book. Don’t blow it by trying to find a literary agent before you’re ready.
Click here to read the next article in this 15-part series,
and learn How to Find a Literary Agent.