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How to Find Your Literary Representative
If you have always wanted to be a recognized author, you probably have an idea about how hard it is to get published. You might have a complete arsenal behind you such as a creative and engaging writing style, perfect grammar, and a beautiful storyline but those are just half of the equation. Selling your manuscript to the publisher is the other. In both areas, literary agents could significantly help you advance your writing career. Here are some steps you can follow in looking for a literary agent.
A personal recommendation is an ideal way to get in contact with a publishing agent. You might know an acquaintance that has past experience with looking for a literary agent, who is familiar with your writing style, and who could vouch for your skills to some agents. You could be set for a meeting and all it would take is an introduction. If you don’t have such a colleague, you can try to improve your network and reach out this way, but this method works best with already existing relationships. Nevertheless, you can attend writing conferences, seminars, and talks to try meeting with such individuals and even with agents themselves.
You can also try to send query letters or whatever submission requirements literary agents ask for. You must be cautious on who to contact through this method as there are scammers posing as agents that are after the money of aspiring authors. There are also agents that are a mismatch with your material and sending them query letters would be wasteful to you both. This is why you must do comprehensive and selective research when you are looking for a literary agent.
There is a great number of databases and listings of agents all over the internet. Even if you manage to weed out the fraud initially, you would still be facing a daunting list. You have to shorten this to a dozen or so through objective and subjective factors. For starters, when looking for a literary agent, eliminate those who do not cater to the genre and the subject matter you write about. Also, try to select those who are members of highly regarded organizations and associations of literary and publishing agents. These bodies usually have strict membership guidelines and a set or code of ethics that ensures their members are credible and good for their word. Then perhaps you can organize them by location such that expenses on mail and travel could be at a minimum both while you are looking for a literary agent or after. If you are satisfied with your list, you can do a preferential selection and prioritization to come up with a shortlist based on the titles they were able to sell and authors they have handled.
Then you can send query letters to the top agents on your list. It might take a while for them to reply so get busy with your next project while waiting. If you manage a contract after this extensive process of looking for a literary agent, then you can relax a little now. And congratulations, you have a healthier writing career ahead of you.