MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How to Find an Agent

[excerpt from A Writer’s Time, Chapter 6, “Publishing in Time”]

BOOK WRITERS
HOW TO FIND AN AGENT
OR REPRESENTATIVE

….The first step in finding an authors’ representative is to write something that will interest the representative. The writing must be good or the subject-matter important before anyone will represent you. But, basically, you find a representative exactly as you find a publisher:
  1. Write a one-page query, making clear what your book is about in one or two sentences. Be professional.
  2. Write a five- to ten-page synopsis, outlining your book chapter by chapter or event by event. Some editors don't like synopses with novels, but almost every representative and many editors will request one.
  3. Book titles should be clear and immediately intriguing but generally not based on catchy phrases or puns. A book may go through several title changes before its final title is established.
  4. If you have significant publishing credits, cover your publishing background in your letter. (If you don’t, your letter should be brief.) Whatever you do, don’t emphasize your lack of track record.
  5. Send the query, synopsis, and letter with the first chapter of your book to an agent or manager by name. A list of authors’ representatives can be found in Jeff Herman’s Writer’s Guide to Book Editor, Publishers and Literary Agents, as well as in LMP (Literary Market Place). [click here to purchase]
  6. You can send your presentation (query, synopsis, and letter) to as many authors’ representatives as you like. Agents and literary managers will understand that this is only a query that doesn’t oblige either of you. Mail—or email, depending on the representative’s preference--ten to fifteen presentations at a time, as you can afford it.
  7. Plan several mailings in advance in order to avoid rejection syndrome. If a representative expresses interest, call the representative and ask how this particular representative can help you.
[excerpt from A Writer’s Time, Chapter 6, “Publishing in Time”]

© Kenneth Atchity 1986, 1995, 1999

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