At Writer’s Relief, we’re always thrilled when a client connects with a literary agent. It’s not easy to score agent representation, but it does happen. Today, we offer our five best pieces of advice that can help you get a literary agent for your book.
While the tips we offer here may seem simplistic, there’s a difference between something that’s simple and something that’s fundamental. Good writers know the power of revisiting their technique. In fact, some successful writers we know regularly take “Writing 101” types of classes, just to keep their fundamentals fresh.
So before you write off these five tips as “easy,” be sure to give them serious consideration.
The Five Essentials For Landing Your Dream Literary Agent
Have a plan. You’d be surprised how many writers don’t have a plan. They take the hunt-and-peck route to developing a submission strategy, sending queries irregularly or few and far between. Because of this, they’re unable to build any momentum, until finally they give up.
If you have a plan—specific, outlined, doable—you’ll be more likely to stick with it long enough to see results. (NOTE: At Writer’s Relief, we submit our clients’ queries to agents regularly, with 25+ new submissions made every two months. If you like those numbers, give us a call.)
Query relentlessly. We know that some writers believe that if you send your book to your five favorite agents and they all say no thanks, then it’s time to revise the book. But the evidence that we see here on a regular basis suggests otherwise.
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen a writer on the brink of giving up after fifty queries get an offer of representation on the fifty-first. Or, the hundredth!
It happens a lot. So if you’re going to query, query with gusto. Query with all your writerly might. Don’t give up. You just don’t know if that next query you write will be the one.
Don’t assume you’re already an expert on query writing (or anything else). As a writer, you trust your instincts for writing books. And you should. But there’s a difference between trusting your instincts and blatantly ignoring industry etiquette and best practices.
Don’t be one of those writers who assumes that writing a perfect book means being able to write a perfect query letter. Start your self-education about writing a query letter—and about the book business in general—today.
Nail your first five pages. So many writers come to the table with a book that “gets good around chapter two.” Literary agents (and most of the reading public) want the book to be good from page one.
This doesn’t mean cars have to explode in the first paragraph. Some of the best openings in literature start small. But be sure to know your reader and then grab him/her by the first line. Perfect your first five pages. And then, every page after.
Get a support system. If you’re the kind of person who needs motivation, then get motivation. Ask friends to hold you accountable or to help you mail your query letters. Join a writing group and check in each week about your progress. And, of course, consider joining Writer’s Relief—because our support can help ensure that you stay on track and keep moving forward toward your goals.
And, Finally, One Last Tip For Getting A Literary Agent…
Did you notice what might be the biggest tip that’s missing from our list? It’s so big that we feel it trumps ALL the tips above. And it, too, is simple: Write an amazing book.
It’s a tough market; literary agents are sensitive to shifts in the publishing industry and are more competitive than ever. So before you begin to even think about getting a literary agent, think about writing the best book that you possibly can.
QUESTION: What are your fundamentals (lessons that you return to again and again because they keep you going)?
Thanks for this post! I often find myself searching for posts with GOOD tips, and most of the ones I comes across are not very informative. I felt like this post WAS informative. I specifically liked the part that pointed out that the first FIVE pages of any book need to be interesting, to increase the chances of a piece of writing being published.
These are great tips. I know a major concern for many writers is how to connect with literary agents. Often, they’ve become discouraged at the rejection letters and have assumed that it’s because their writing is bad that they’ve yet to be published. Rather than keep trying, some give up, so the tip about motivation is especially important to acknowledge.
Being a university student currently taking a publication course, I found the information on this site extremely useful and practical. Thank you for posting it.
Thanks for the post. Very informative. In my opinion, scoring a lit agent should never be first priority. Besides, many selfpublishing authors are proof that success is in the people buying the books and not just savy lit agents. Write a great book. And even the literary agents and publishers will come calling, emailing, etc…
Love the article. Great points.
Here’s another tip. Read the acknowledgements’ pages in the books of writers whose books you love — and whose books are in the same genre as yours. Writers often thank their agents. Then research the agents to see whether they’re taking on new clients.
Mentioning that: “I read that ___ (author’s name) appreciated your help in ___ (book title.) He/ she is my hero” in your query letter may encourage an agent to read your offering with more attention.
Great tips, but I think one very important one was missed. Read and follow submission guidelines carefully. All the hard work can be for nothing if you don’t follow the rules the agent lays out for you. They do delete queries that don’t do as they ask!