A Book Publishing Agent -
How To Get One

"So I just talked to my agent and...."

Can a book publishing agent help you to achieve your dreams?

Admit it - this is something you've always wanted to say. After all, we work hard on our books and unless you make it know that you have even written one, no one will even know about it.

And while there's a great deal of mystery surrounding the process of how to find a good one, it's relatively straightforward. This doesn't mean you'll be able to snap one up just like that, but the following tips will greatly increase your chances of success.

Tips For Getting A Book Publishing Agent

  • Think like a book publishing agent. Look at it this way - both you and book agent are essentially after the same thing: a book that sells well and makes lots of money for everyone involved. If you're a good writer with an interesting idea, the agent wants to make contact with you just as much as you want to make contact with him or her.
  • Submitting a well-written, attention-grabbing query letter is the best way to pique interest. If you can do that, you're already ahead of the game, because a: you know how to string a sentence together and b: you know how to hook a reader. These are two skills common to all successful authors, regardless of whether they write fiction or non-fiction.
  • Conversely, if you misspell the agent's name on a query, bore him or her to tears, and announce in your letter that "My mom thinks this is a great idea for a book," you'll quickly brand yourself as someone who just doesn't get it - i.e., someone the agent will take a quick pass on.
  • Create a platform. Agents get behind books not so much because they personally like them - which they generally do if they agree to represent them - but because they believe lots of other people will buy them. If you already have a following of some sort, such as a blog with several thousand readers, or a few published magazine articles, it's much easier to land an agent because you already have an established track record. It's not impossible to find an agent if you're unpublished and unknown, but it's harder.

  • Follow directions. People never want to hear this, but it's hugely important. You don't set yourself apart by using glittery ink, calling the agent at home, or sending your query letter wrapped around the jumbo-size Whitman's Sampler. You set yourself apart by the strength of your writing and your presentation - within the framework of what the agent wants.

I highly recommend How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent. It's the first book written from an active literary agent's perspective to teach authors why agents reject manuscripts and offers them dozens of resources to help them find the perfect agent for them. Written by veteran New York literary agent Noah Lukeman.

I also love Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2012.

He gives you the skinny on which agents are looking for new clients, the types of books they're interested in representing, the types of books they're not interested in representing, and submission guidelines.

(Some prefer email queries; some prefer hard copy queries. Some want you to send a few sample chapters right away, while others want only the query to start with. You get the idea.)

I also really like this Literary Database. It's a tool for writers to help them decide which journals are best to submit their short stories, essays and poetry. This is a great resource for writers who specialize in one of these niches.

Although there are many ways to get published these days, publishing agents still play a vital role in the process. Do you need one? Well, that is up to you. Be sure to check out all your options, and proceed carefully, no matter what you decide.

Interested in self publishing? There are many publishing companies for both publishing a book as well as ebook publishing. Or you can start your own publishing business.

Over the last few years, e publishing has become very popular, but if you feel like you want to pursue standard publishing and get a book publishing agent, your options are smaller and more difficult. But it can be done if you have some help.

Jennifer Carsen, J.D. is a recovering lawyer and the founder of Big Juicy Life. She specializes in turning lawyers into writers.

Marketing & Selling Your Books

Who Has Time For A Book Launch? – Not ME!

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever looked at other authors and wondered where they get the time and energy to promote their books? If so, you’re not alone.

We hear authors asking:

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  • Where do you even start?
  • Wait… Publishing our books was a learning experience in and of itself, and now we’re expected to go the extra mile and learn how to run a book launch? You’re CRAZY!

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Return from book publishing agent to writers resources

Return from book publishing agent to freelance writing success

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