How to Get a Literary Agent

Q: I need an agent for my next book. Even after the first novel, I find this the most daunting part of the game. Time is critical, the system is slow. How do I maximize my presence without going broke and gain quality representation? -John

First, polish your submissions to make sure they are as sharp as they can be (well written, focused, neatly typed, etc). This means your query letter, as well as your synopsis and sample chapters (or manuscript, whichever is requested). Don’t try to slough over any part.

Second, and most important, target the agents to whom you are submitting. Check to make sure they are looking for new projects and that they represent the kind of book you are submitting. You’re just wasting your time hoping an agent will love your book so much they will take on something entirely different.

If an agent says he doesn’t represent science fiction, for example, that really means he doesn’t want to see anything that resembles science fiction. Finally, check to see if the agent will accept multiple submissions. Often agents do at the initial review stages (before seeing the entire manuscript) and that way you can target several at once. Good luck.

Elaine English, Attorney and Literary Agent