Almost every writer has a dream of becoming famous, and making millions of dollars on an amazing book/book series. Though this does happen, the chances of it happening are fairly slim. They say the easiest part of being an author, is actually writing the books, and I am going to explain how this is actually true . This article is a guide, that will hopefully provide essential information to any writer.
Since many people are not familiar with the term “Literary Agent,” I will begin with a basic explanation. A literary agent, is an agent that works with authors to get their written works to publishers, film producers or even theatrical producers. They also assist in the sales and marketing, and try to promote all of the books to get the best sales. Literary agents, also try and get the authors the highest advances, as they also get a percentage of this.
If an author is going to write more than a single novel, it is suggested that they sign with a Literary agent, to help with their careers. This sounds easier than it actually is. Almost every book would tell the following steps.
Do research on agents, that have published books similar to your own. Pick 10 of your favorites, and make sure they are actively accepting submissions.
Writer a query Letter.
Okay, before I move on to the following steps, I will give another brief description for the word “Query Letter” This is a letter used to get Literary agents to WANT to read your manuscript, and sign your book. It is a very strict format, that cannot be deviated from. Since agents receive hundreds of these a week, they scan through them quickly, sometimes not even bothering to read them. If they see that someone has used a different format, they assume the author is an amateur, and don't even bother to continue.
So what is the correct format?
I will not dwell much on the subject, as entire books have been written to cover the subject, and much information is easily found for free online. The most important thing to remember is that a query letter is NEVER more than one page long. In fact it is 3 paragraphs long. If you think its hard enough to condense an entire novel to just 3 paragraphs, it gets ever worse. Only one of the paragraphs is your mini book synopsis. So you get three sentences to get an agent interested enough to sign you.
First paragraph, is your hook. A couple sentences that briefly want to make the agent read more ( assuming they have even bothered to read your query thus far)
The second, and most important is the mini synopsis. THREE sentences, no more, to explain the best you can what your book is about.
The last, is your credentials as a writer, such as published novels, magazine articles, and also college/schooling that is applicable to you as a writer. IF you do not have any, please do not make up random, and useless information. This is another mistake many amateurs make. It can be very intimidating letting an agent know that you are a new author, but you have to restrain from babbling.
It is acceptable to throw in ONE last sentence, with contact information, and to ask if they would like to see the entire manuscript.
If you have followed the Query letter format, then you are already ahead of thousands of people, who query agents with three page letters telling them how they are the next Steven King. Not only will the agent not read the query, but it also wastes their time, that they could have been reading valid queries.
Back to article...
After you have sent 10 query letters, continue with more writing assignments or books that you are currently writing. You don't want to be sitting around, tapping your foot waiting for either a rejection letter, or a request to see a manuscript.
If after three weeks they have all rejected you, or you have not heard back, then submit 10 more queries.
Now, I am a published author, who has read many books on writing query letters, and finding an agent to sign you, and in my experience I have found that is easier to write a good novel, then it is to get it published. After writing a recent novel, I ended up submitting a well written query letter to almost 75 agents. After a few weeks, rejection letters bean to pour in, and they all said the same information, but in different words.
“Dear Mr Maddon, unfortunately we are not interested in the material you submitted...”
“Dear Mr Maddon, While your proposal shows merit, I'm afraid it's not right for us. As I'm sure you know, this is a very subjective business, and no doubt another agent will feel differently. Best of luck in your writing career.”
Dear Mr Maddon, Thank you for your recent e-mail. I regret to say that I don’t feel that I’m the most appropriate agent for your work. However, opinions vary considerably in this business, and I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.”
The more letters of denial I received, the more confused I became. How is it, that someone could read a three sentence synopsis, and judge myself as a writer? Out of the 75 agents, none of them requested to read my manuscript, ( which ended up being a highly successful novel) and yet they all had agreed that my book was not right for their literary agencies.
Now, I have my own opinions on the agent business, but I think that if finding a literary agent is necessary to have a successful writing career, then shouldn't it be easier to snag one? After 75 rejection letters, in a four month period, I had come to the conclusion that a NEW author, who has never published anything in their life, has a snowballs chance in hell of finding an agent that will sign them. I cannot begin to understand this sort of thinking.
Isn't it the job of the agent to FIND new authors, who have never been discovered before?
Isn't it the job of the agent to READ the book, and decide if the author is any good?
I think most of the agents, don't even take the time read the queries they receive, and if they are reading them, then they are barely scanning them, due to the large volume that they get on a daily basis.
So what is a new author to do then? Submit the query to thousands of agents, in the hope that they will at least REQUEST the actual manuscript that they have spent months writing?
I think agents need to slow down, and realize that the mass-produced rejection letters they send out everyday, could actually be a New York Times, best selling author. They have the power to either discover amazing new authors, or stomp on, what could have been a shining career.
In conclusion, if you are a new author, seeking representation on your work, remember that there are many alternatives out there. You can self publish a book through companies like LuLu or Create Space. If they sound like the company for you, then don't hesitate. You can always writer another novel, and try to find an agent, that will take the time to ACTUALLY do their jobs.