Introduction: Before I begin this blog post, I want to make something clear to everyone:
I am not an expert when it comes to literary agents.
I am new to this terrifying, exciting (and hopefully life-changing) world; a world that is fraught with overspilling questions, like ‘Who do I send my book to?’ ‘What’s the ONE guide you need to buy?’, and ‘How do I choose the right agent/what you look for?’
The first time I submitted ‘Will Worthington and The Black Rainbow’ was in 2016, where – I hasten to admit – I knew nothing about how to put together a manuscript for agents. Looking back, I think I probably wrote them a little too fast and neglected to put in essential ingredients such as WHY I chose this agent, and WHAT I enjoyed from their agency that they represented. At the end of the day, it’s about your book sitting in the market next to other titles which are similar (though, not TOO similar) I know, confusing, right?
You want to find an agent that will not only best represent your book, but who will also be your mentor, friend, editor, and support network. Why? The book is the product. You are the creator. To take an example, if you were weighing up who you wanted to befriend, and one of them was lazy, rude, and obnoxious, you wouldn’t choose to take them out for coffee, would you, even if they happened to give you an expensive gift. You would pick the kind, sweet, hard working person (whose gift was just a friendly token)….. which swiftly leads me onto my first three points:
Do your research.
Show them what you can do.
It’s not just about finding which agent represents your genre. It’s about the titles they have published before. It’s about their reading interests (Someone I was looking at hated pirates as a rule, so I had to select an agent that didn’t, or I know it would just go to the bin, and quite right too.) I was actually researching my last agent today and saw that this person was behind a fantasy series I have always loved.
In short: Your book needs to fit into the agency, and so do you 🙂
Where To Go
If you’re a budding author, you will be in the minority not to recognise ‘The Writers and Artists Yearbook.’ I often refer to it as ‘The Writer’s Bible.’ There are two that you can buy. One is the Children’s edition (which I get, due to the market I’m aiming for) and then there is the general Writers and Artists Yearbook geared towards the adult genres: thrillers, non-fiction etc.
The Writers And Artists Yearbook 2022
This is what it’s like inside : Each agency gives you a brief outline of what is required for your submission, contact details, and a website address (if applicable) TIP: VISIT the WEBSITE anyway. It might have been updated with news since the Yearbook was published. If an agency isn’t taking submissions, write them down, and remember them for later.
DON’T be SHY to ask for advice
The best advice I can give you is to talk to traditionally published authors online, as they are often keen to help someone who is starting out.
Due to my time on Twitter, I am friends with a number of very encouraging authors now, including Darren Shan, (The Cirque du Freak series) Trenton Lee Stewart (The Mysterious Benedict Society series), Rachel Burge, (The Twisted Tree) and Rachel Delahaye (Mort The Meek series) They know what it’s like to begin this journey! 🙂
Dummy Cover Letter
Once you have written a dummy cover letter, the next part is to find your first TOP 5 literary agents to send your book to. Don’t send to more than 5 at a time. You will lose track of who has replied. When you do submit, make sure to take note of the date you submitted it. Usually, agencies like to respond within a month, but sometimes it can be longer and if you find it’s been nearly three months, a gentle nudge is okay!
If an agency is interested, that is of course the best news you can hear, BUT (and here’s a giant but) you need to make sure they’re right for your book and that they have the same goals moving forward. The research isn’t just for the agent’s sake, it’s for yours. Make sure they’re the right fit before signing ANYTHING. It’s really worth taking the time (yes, more time) to match with the agency that meets you and your book’s needs.
If no agent appears interested, it usually isn’t because the book is bad. (Well, unless it’s horribly written and you’ve not spent the time looking at what’s needed), it’s because that agent doesn’t see it in that particular agency. Sometimes, too, the reasons are purely just personal taste. You have no idea how an agency is going to respond, but you’re doing what a lot of people don’t : putting yourself out there – and that, in itself is brave.
I really hope these pointers have helped and I wish you all the luck in the world.
As for me? I aim to send ‘Will Worthington and The Black Rainbow’ to agencies by the end of October.
See you next time for more blogging!
Remember, guys: Never. Give. Up.