If you hope to get your book published by one of the traditional publishing houses, you’ll need a literary agent to represent you and your work—and it’s important you find the right agent. At Writer’s Relief, our many years of experience have taught us that there are huge variations in the tastes and working styles of literary agents. Before querying an agent, you should ask—and answer—these questions to ensure you’re making the right choice.
6 Questions To Answer About An Agent Before Querying
Does this agent represent my book’s age range? Though many literary agents represent books for a wide age range, make sure you verify this before querying. Some agencies might have specific agents who represent only children’s books or only adult books; other agencies allow their agents to represent a mix of age ranges. It’s likely that if the first agent you found doesn’t represent the age range of your work, a colleague at that agency does—so be sure to spend extra time researching!
Does this agent represent my book’s genre? Literary agents tend to have very specific tastes in terms of the genres they represent. For example: It’s very rare for an agent to represent any and all subtypes of adult books or YA books. Before you query an agent, make sure you know your book’s genre, and make sure that particular literary agent is the right fit!
Is this a “career agent”? While some literary agents represent a writer only for the project they queried with, others will sign on to represent an author for their entire career. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, so it’s a good idea to decide which type of agent you want before querying.
Is this agent editorially hands-on? Agents vary in their editorial philosophies: Some agents will take the draft you queried with and submit that to editors or publishers right away. Others will offer feedback on elements of your work such as the characters, plot, and length, and will want you to do revisions before they submit your work to publishers. Again, there are pros and cons to each style, so you should decide which philosophy is best for you before researching and querying agents.
Have I read any books on this agent’s list? Literary agents pour their heart and soul into the books they work on! Odds are that if they’ve championed a project all the way to publication, they’ve read several drafts and truly love it. Reading books that specific agents have represented is a great way to learn more about that agent’s tastes. If you mention in your query that you loved a book an agent represented, it will be noticed.
Do I have anything in common with this agent? Do you have any personal connection with the agent you’re querying? It can be anything from favorite books or movies, to where you grew up, to what you studied in college, to having seen this agent at a writers conference, to enjoying their blog. Though a personal connection isn’t required for an agent to be interested in your query, feel free to mention any coincidence you find—an agent is likely to smile when they read that detail!
Querying can be time-consuming and require intensive research. Before you query any agent, ask yourself what makes you want to work with this particular person. Is it that they love the genre and age range you write in and excel in that field? Is it their work style? Is it a book they’ve represented?
Of course, there are some details about a particular agent that you won’t be able to learn until you have “the call” with them (where an agent offers to represent you and your work). But these days, many literary agents put information about themselves and their styles on the Internet, from their official agency websites to their personal blogs and social media profiles. If you want to succeed in getting agent representation for your book, you’ll have to do some digging before you query an agent to make sure they’re a good match for you—from the basics to the gritty details.
If the thought of spending hours and hours researching literary agents to find the right choices for you and your book seems daunting, you can leave all that busywork to the experts at Writer’s Relief! Our research professionals constantly update and evaluate our extensive database on hundreds of literary agents. We can accurately pinpoint the best options for your book and boost your odds of getting a request for more pages. Learn more here!
Question: What do you look for in a literary agent?