When you’re trying to find a literary agent to represent your novel, memoir, or other nonfiction book, Writer’s Relief reminds you to be careful: Just because a literary agent raves about you and your book, doesn’t mean he or she will be a good agent for you. So how do you know which agents are making empty promises, and which are true blue?
Here Are 7 Signs A Literary Agent Is Right For You
Has a reputation that checks out. Literary agents control the information posted on their websites and in market listing books. To get the real scoop on a literary agent, you’ll need to find firsthand sources of information. Here are some great ideas to assess a literary agent’s reputation in the real world.
Doesn’t flash any of these red flags. If a literary agent who is “totally in love with your book” tries to ply you with any of these unsavory practices, you might consider continuing your search.
Shares your vision for your book and your career. Some books can be comfortably marketed within two different genres. Other books can be expanded into a series. And there are also books that might find a better fit with an indie publisher. If your literary agent doesn’t share your long-term vision for your book, there may be friction between you.
Returns emails within a reasonable timeframe. It’s fairly typical to have to wait a while to hear back on an unsolicited submission. But once you’re in a conversation with a literary agent, he or she should reply within a day or two. The same goes for phone calls.
Hears you out on contract concerns. If you make it to the contract stage, be sure that your literary agent is willing to answer your questions about your contract or meet you halfway regarding any contract concerns. Read more here: 7 Dangers To Avoid In A Literary Agency Contract.
Is very transparent. When you ask questions, a good literary agent answers them honestly and gives examples when possible. For example: You might ask about your literary agent’s policies on self-publishing. Listen for clear, precise replies.
Is willing to give you a time frame for sending out your book. A good literary agent won’t sit on your book submissions for a long time. He or she should have some idea of how long it will take before the push to get your book published begins.
But What About Literary Agent Gray Areas?
Sometimes, in the world of writer/literary agent relationships, sticky situations can arise. Things like charging revision fees, not offering a written contract, and bundling might feel appropriate to writers but might actually be questionable.
Question: Which of the points mentioned here is most important?