Literary Agent

Is a Literary Agent a Good Thing for You?

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Don't-Worry

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So you want to be published by a major traditional publishing house and you have heard about literary agents, but not much on how an author can find one? Here’s how to determine whether you really need an agent.

Ask Yourself These Important Questions:

  • Did you compare your manuscript / book idea with all the bestsellers in your genre.
  • Does your work stand out against those?
  • And is your manuscript fully edited and proof-read?
  • Is your work in one of the following categories / genres, then you won’t need to start an agent search, because reputable agents don’t handle: poetry, short stories, and most memories and non-fiction.
  • Are you really sure, you will trade in 60-70% revenue for a 8-10% royalty – minus the agent’s commission?  And are you aware that you sell away your publishing rights and that you have no say anymore about your book’s content, title, cover etc.?
  • Do you know that you have to do all the marketing yourself, publishers do not much more than the distribution?
  • Everything else is up to you!  Your book has only a couple of weeks from launch on to “make it” in stores or it will be returned to the publisher.

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Where & How to Query to Literary Agents
A typical literary agency receives close to 5,000 unsolicited query letters/book proposals per year – or approximately 150 queries per working day.  On average these agents accept only 10-12 new clients – only one out of every 500 submissions… Do you want to learn how to write a query, and how to approach the agent?
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As Always:  Writer Beware

Bestselling author Kristine Rusch wrote in one of her blogs: “Savvy writers know that having an agent instead of a literary lawyer is a bad business practice.  Agents slow down payments (or embezzle them), turn down projects that don’t pay enough in commission (often without the writer ever hearing of the project), and often want a percent of the writer’s copyright.  And those agents who negotiate contracts are—in reality – practicing law without a license.”
Get to know more about the person before hand – after all, she or he will be your partner for a long time?  My best advice: Read their blogs to get informed about the process and find out more about how they work and what they are like before you approach them.  When you check out the agent, you’ll want to contact “Writer Beware”.  Visit often and get the latest alerts here: http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/alerts/

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Have a “business plan” for your book ready:

  • Who will be your readers?
  • Who is your competition?
  • How will you market your book?

You will be asked for this!  Here are some examples of questions you might be asked.
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Useful Tips and Websites for Your Agent Search

Rachelle Gardner
Rachelle Gardner is an agent with Books and Such Literary Agency, representing both fiction and non-fiction.  She offers query tips and book proposal advice.
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Nathan Bransford
Nathan Bransford knows a lot about writing and publishing, and offers in his blog advice on: How to Find a Literary Agent, How to Write a Query Letter, The Basic Query Letter Formula, Examples of Good Queries, How to Format Your Query Letter …
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Agent Research Ask them about an agent and they will tell you if he or she has established a public record, and if we have had any negative reports on the agent’s business practices.  This service is free.
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Agent Query
Agent Query offers the largest and most current searchable database of literary agents on the web—a treasure trove of reputable, established literary agents seeking writers.
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BookEnds Agency
BookEnds, LLC, is a literary agency focusing on fiction and nonfiction books for adult audiences.  In their workshop Wednesdays everyone can post queries out there and will get comments open, also to anonymous posters.
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Nelson Newsletter
Kristin Nelsons blog is a-must-read for every author about to send out a query.  Subscribe to the Nelson Literary Agency newsletter.
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Query Shark
Send your query in for critique.  A wealth of resources and Janet Reid shares them all, she also dissects queries, posting lots of examples what writers are doing right – and wrong!
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Call My Agent!
In which a literary agent in Sydney, Australia attempts to decode the world of publishing in order to assist writers.  And sometimes to get things off her chest.

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Resources and More Blogs About Literary Agents:
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What Literary Agents Want to Know From You
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/what-literary-agents-want-to-know-from-you/
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How Agents work and How to work with Agents
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/how-agents-work-how-to-work-with-agents/ .
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Must-Read Blog to learn more about agents and how to approach them
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents
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Guide to Literary Agents
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents
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How to Write a Query Letter
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/5-tips-for-successful-book-submissions/
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100’s of Links to Publishers and Agents
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/100s-of-links-to-publishers-and-agents/
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Which Literary Agent is Right for You?
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/which-literary-agent-is-right-for-you/
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Association of Author’s Representatives (lists agents)
http://aaronline.org/

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For more agent blogs go to the absolutewrite forum: 

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=37784
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As always: “Writer beware, beware and beware more”.  Details on what to watch out for can be found in this useful article.  Literary agents are not in a government-regulated occupation and they work for a commission, which means if they sell your manuscript, they get their commission right off the top of your advance – and then again on any royalties you earn.  Standard commission these days for domestic sales is 15%, and 20-25% is standard for foreign sales, because the commission is frequently split between domestic and foreign agents.
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Querying literary agents can be a frustrating, time-consuming task, even for writers who have written a good, publishable manuscript.  Always remember: Self-publishing might be even a better option…

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To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also
BOOK MARKETING ON A SHOESTRING
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UAVL3LE

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