Saturday, February 16, 2013

SCWC: How to Find and Keep the Right Literary Agent

  • Find someone that you click with that is genuinely interested in your work and will help you work toward your goals and grow with you. Most important is that you need someone that absolutely believes in your book.
  • Find someone that has a good reputation and has successfully sold books
  • Background experience: many come from editing background, which is good because they will read fast and can help edit your book. Make sure they have contract experience so they can successfully negotiate a contract and fight for you. Some agents also come from legal backgrounds and sales backgrounds.
  • Chuck Sambuchino – Writers' Digest, guide to literary agents. Look for agents that are representing your kind of work, then check out their backgrounds. Make a list of the ones you like, then check out their websites and see if they're open to submissions. Read their submission guidelines.
  • Be sure to mention if you've been referred from another agent/agency.
  • “Preditors” and Editors:
  • Have a COMPLETE manuscript peer-critiqued (beta-read) and cleaned up before submitting to agent
  • Jeff Herman guide to publishers, editors, literary agents:
  • There are a lot of good agents that are not listed on the AAR (Association of Author Representatives).
  • genre/word count needs to be in query letter, brief description of story, talk about yourself, who you are
  • What not to do for queries: don't go straight into the novel contents. Agents want to know genre, word count, and about the author. Don't ramble, agent might lose interest. START with the hook, then get into the synopsis.
  • 85,000 words for fiction
  • sci fi/fantasy/paranormal 120,000 words
  • YA 75,000 words
  • Talk to an agent's clients to get a feel for their reputation
  • It's not an agent's job to promote a book. Their job is to get your book read by editors/publishers.
  • Always be prepared to keep changing your book
  • Query multiple agents at the same time, don't waste time and opportunities by querying one at a time (they understand and encourage this). But PERSONALIZE your query letter and DON'T mass-email them all at once.
  • Editors pay attention to Amazon/USA Today/NY Times ratings and will scout for self-published authors based on those ratings
  • Join/read blogs for your genre. Join communities because they promote each other!!!
  • Social-network your ass off
  • How do you help your agent help you? How to be a good client: learn as much as possible. Keep writing, go to conferences, take workshops, keep writing, ask your agent how you can help, keep reading. Never too early to start building a platform (why your target audience should read/buy your book).
  • Advances are dictated by the size of the publishers. Look up publishers marketplace to see deals that have been made and which agents were used
  • Publishers' Weekly releases the advances/deals that were struck

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