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What Do Literary Agents Really Want?

What do literary agents really want? As an aspiring author who wants to be published, this is the million dollar question, isn’t it? Knowing the answer to this question will help you to take one step further towards that coveted publishing dream. So what do they want? What do they look for in a writer?

First, you have to catch their attention. An average literary agency can receive hundreds of manuscripts a week so you have to stand out and be heard. Your book has to be compelling and interesting; if it’s not then there is no point as it will be put down and be forgotten. You have to start with the source material; you have to write a good, solid book. If you have done that then you can try to find an agent.

First impressions really do matter and therefore it is imperative that you send a good query letter. There are many sources of information out there which tell you how to do this, including the Literary Market Place or The Writer's Market. A well thought out and executed query letter will get you noticed and allow you through the door.

You also have to prove that you are a serious contender and one way of proving your professionalism is by following the golden rules and guidelines of submission. If you do not follow the guidelines as set out by the literary agent or agency, then the chances are that your work will be rejected. Do not make this mistake; follow the guidelines.

Then there is the synopsis, a short description of the plot. If an agent asks for this then this is what you send; do not send the manuscript. The odds are that if you send in the manuscript when they have asked for a synopsis, they will not bother to read it. You will therefore have lost your chance and this may be your only one.

It is also extremely important that there are no typos in your query letter, your synopsis or your manuscript. There should be no typos in any correspondence with a prospective agent. This will give the impression that you are careless and that you have little respect for them. It is most important that you edit and then proofread your work; it isn’t enough to run it through the grammar and spell check on your computer. Take the time to read it and make sure that you are happy before you submit.

Follow the submission guidelines. There is no point sending in a manuscript for a horror novel if they do not accept novels in the horror genre; it is a waste of time.

You also need to have a good writing style and your voice needs to be heard. Your novel needs to be distinctive and unique; this will help to get you noticed.

So, write a good book, follow the rules and be proud of your work. Good luck in finding that literary agent.