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How to Best Approach a Literary Agent
You have finished writing your book and it has been edited to perfection, it is ready for the world to read, so how do you go about approaching a literary agent? First, in order to approach publishing houses you will need to find yourself a literary agent. This is the first hurdle. One good source of information is The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook which will list all of the main literary agencies. This will help you to match the literary agent to the type of book you have produced; you do not want to waste your time contacting a literary agent who specialises in nonfiction when you have written a horror novel.
Once you have found a literary agent, what is the next step after you have contacted them? Follow their instructions and send them what they have specifically asked for. If they have asked for the first three chapters of your book, send the first three chapters and not the whole book. Not following instructions will instantly set you back and put other writers who are also going through the submission process at an advantage.
Proofread, proofread and proofread again before you send anything to the agent. More importantly, get someone else to read your work as it is extremely difficult to notice errors when reading the same page for the fiftieth time.
Literary agents also stress that when you contact them focus upon the book and only the book. Do not focus entirely on the marketing plan or past books that you have written. The agent needs to know about your book and this may be your only chance, don’t waste it.
Make sure that you have a completed book before you submit your manuscript. Be prepared and have everything finished before you approach a literary agent. A good piece of advice is also to take a break between edits. Edit your book, forget about it and then go back and edit it again; the second time it will be easier to see and correct any flaws. You will then be ready to make a submission.
The last piece of advice really is to remember that literary agents are human, just like you. They are not people to be terrified of, neither are they unapproachable. They are there to help and offer guidance in this new and exciting literary world that you want to be part of, so let them help you. Don’t forget that it is also a two-way street. Agents are constantly on the lookout for ‘new blood’ and would not be in a job without you.