#WW How To Get A Literary Agent

6 Jul

How do I get a literary agent? This is a popular question among aspiring writers, and to be honest, signing with a literary agent is a long and complicated process but well worth it for many. That being said, signing with a literary agent isn’t the only way to get published, but today, I’m only covering literary agents since that was what I was asked when I helped host a writer’s group this past month. Okay, now for the answer.

First and foremost, make sure you have a completed, polished manuscript ready to go. You want to be 100% ready. This means you’ve written, edited, listened to beta readers, edited again, and polished. Now that your novel is ready, you are ready to search for an agent.

1. Research Your Book and the Marketplace

Research, research, research. Understand your book’s genre and two-three great comp. titles. (Comp. Titles = Comparison titles = Recently published books that can be compared to your book, and not huge ones like Harry Potter or Twilight) Think: What books would B&N put my book in between on the shelves? If you can’t think of a comp. title, don’t force it, but honestly, that might be a sign you need to read more. There is always a good comp. title out there.

2. Research Agents and Agencies

Once you understand your book, research agents to see what genres they represent and how to submit to them. MSWL (ManuscriptWishList.com) is a great place to start, but you can also look out for “New Agents” via Writer’s Digest, subscribe to Publishers Marketplace (and Publishers Lunch), or follow agents via Twitter by looking in the Acknowledgements sections in similar books (like those comp. titles we just talked about). An important rule to remember is that agents should never charge you for anything. Agents make money through your royalties once they sign your book. AAR is a great place to verify agencies. So is Absolute Writer Water Cooler. Be diligent and careful.

3. The Query Letter and 1-Page Synopsis

Write a query letter and a 1-page synopsis (and probably a 2-page synopsis, too). What’s a query letter? It’s a one-page business letter that includes your book’s title, word count, genre, comp titles, and a small synopsis, along with why you picked that agent and any publishing credentials you might have. A great way to learn about this process is QueryShark. I’d go as far as to say to submit to QueryShark and see if Janet Reid gives you advice, but definitely try to get advice from credited sources before e-mailing. If you follow agents online, they sometimes open competitions where you can win a query critique. Also, read #tenqueries and #querytip on Twitter. Also, #MSWL is the Twitter version of ManuscriptWishList.com, so you can see what agents are looking for. Do NOT query agents via Twitter. Look up their websites, read about them, and query according to their submission guidelines.

Websites for Finding a Literary Agent

Websites for Finding a Literary Agent

4. Now Query

Once you have a list of agents you’re interested in (and all the necessary materials), query a few at a time (3-4) and see if you get any partials or fulls. (Partials is when an agent asks for 50 pages, while fulls are full manuscript requests.) If not, rewrite your query, and then, try a new batch. If you get partials but no fulls, reevaluate your novel. Use QueryTracker to keep track of who you’re talking to and why and what was said. Generally, giving “exclusives” should only happen if the agent gave you specific rewrites they want you to do, but other than that, shy away from them. Querying is a slow, slow process, and most agents understand you’re querying numerous agencies at once. Just don’t spam and make sure you’re genuinely querying them due to his or her interests. If you get a full, congrats! If you get an offer of rep, double congrats, but in the case of getting an offer of rep, you should e-mail all the current agents considering your work and tell them (whether to close out because you signed or because you have a 2-week limit for counter offers). If querying isn’t working, check out my next tip.

5. Don’t Forget Other Opportunities

This includes pitch competitions on Twitter—such as #PitMad and #PitchWars—and conferences. Here’s a Pitch Competition Calendar. If you can travel, conferences are great tool to network and learn. But there are online conferences as well! If you feel stuck in the query trenches, remind yourself it’s a long process many writers go through, and you will get through it to the other side if you work hard. Querying is difficult, but don’t hesitate to ask for help or hire a credited source for a critique. And, of course, don’t forget my last tip.

6. Finally, Keep Writing!

Most writers don’t sell the first piece of work they ever finished. Most writers don’t even sell their second. Keep writing. It will help you stay focused and moving forward, and if you do get that awesome call from an agent, you’ll be able to share numerous projects. Plus, writers love to write. Give yourself time to continue what you love.

Good luck!

Originally posted in the Facebook writer’s group, Twice the Jennifers

~SAT

Today I have 4 giveaways, but first, check out my latest interview with Discover New Authors

Q:  It is said that writers will always put a bit of themeselves into whatever they are writing.  Is that true for you?  Do you relate to any of your characters?

A:  Most definitely!  Serena in particular is a lot like me.  She struggles with memory loss–and so do I–but her determination to keep her friends and family safe is a trait I hold dear to my heart.  That being said, we definitely have differnces.  Serena is liliterate, and writing from a character’s perspective who cannot read when reading is such a huge part of life was extremely difficult.  I also relate to Catelyn’s love for cats and Melody’s playful imagination and Jane’s steady determination, but in the end, all of my characters stand on their own.

Win prizes this Friday on Facebook via CTP’s Sizzling Summer Reads!

You can win a signed Bad Bloods book, Blake’s teddy bear, two skull flower jars, signed swag, and stickers of hearts and snow flakes. Click here to see a photo.

CTP's Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party

CTP’s Sizzling Summer Reads FB Party

Kindle Giveaway

Kindle Giveaway

Clean Teen Publishing also announced their July giveaway, and it’s epic! They are giving away a Kindle Fire‬ and up to $200 in cash!!! Check out the details and yes, this giveaway is open for International contestants. They’re hosting a Goodreads Giveaway for Bad Bloods: November Rain as well. You can also win a Bad Bloods eBook through the Bookie Monster right now. What did they think of November Rain? “This is one of those ‘you can’t put it down’ books. Thompson is a masterful storyteller.”

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

 

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8 Responses to “#WW How To Get A Literary Agent”

  1. Charles Yallowitz July 6, 2016 at 5:07 am #

    Reblogged this on Legends of Windemere and commented:
    Very helpful advice for those seeking an agent.

  2. debyfredericks July 6, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    I don’t have an agent, so I can’t offer much advice there. But I will remark that writers encounter a lot of people who are what you might call gatekeepers. They guard the mystic portal we’re all trying to get through, and by their divine insight filter the worthy from the unworthy.

    Yes, I’m having a “fantasy morning” here.

    Among the gatekeepers are agents, editors, and critics. Writers may sometimes feel discouraged and frustrated after encountering gatekeepers. We have to remember that the gatekeeper we’re dealing with at the moment is a human being, just like us. They might have life experiences that influence their judgments, but we can’t let those judgments weigh us unduly.

    Having an agent is a business arrangement that can indeed open the mystic gate for you. However, you can get started without one. There are publishers in all genres who consider unagented material. You just have to research and find them.

    So while submitting to agents, I would advocate that writers should also be submitting to editors. For one thing, if you get an offer, you might have an easier time finding an agent.

    Also, agents will only represent books. Writers of poetry or short stories do not need an agent in order to submit to magazines.

    • Shannon A Thompson July 6, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

      Yes! There are plenty of ways to get published without an agent. I don’t have an agent, and I’m with a great publisher. 🙂 I love how you brought up that the “gate keepers” are human, too. I see many get very hostile because they forget this. Getting an agent can be a difficult process, but it should never turn into an ugly process. Thank you for reading and commenting!
      ~SAT

  3. Don Massenzio July 7, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog.

  4. katiemdean March 24, 2017 at 9:37 am #

    As a young writer hoping to get an agent and get published, these tips were super helpful!
    I do have one question, though, since I’m new to this; is the one-page synopsis part of the query letter, or is it separate? Thanks 🙂

    • Shannon A Thompson March 24, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

      It’s completely separate, but agents will ask you for it if they want it submitted with your query letter. Follow their submission guidelines, and you’ll be fine. 🙂
      ~SAT

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. #WW How To Get A Literary Agent | Writers Critique | Story & Craft - July 6, 2016

    […] Click here to view orig­i­nal web page at shannonathompson.com […]

  2. July’s Ketchup | Shannon A Thompson - July 30, 2016

    […] How To Get A Literary Agent: Many writers are searching, but many don’t know where to start. I ran a writer’s group this month, and since I covered this topic there, I brought the lesson to my own website. I outline where to start, how to begin, and when to research and pitch. There are dozens of websites and tools out there for you to use, so I hope you enjoy the info! […]

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