Authors: How to Sign a Top Literary Agent

By Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications

 

Time to Get an AgentLanding an agent for many authors is the most sought after goal. Why? It’s been long considered the fastest and most profitable path to publishing success. If that is your goal then you’ll want to check out these tips, techniques and resources to help you land the quality literary agent you are seeking.

Where to begin?

Get up to speed with the latest information with books and resources on the topic. According to Jeff Herman, book agent and author of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, authors should assess potential agents on the following points before sealing a deal:

  1. The list of books the agent has sold to publishers, including the publishers’ and authors’ names.
  2. The agent’s reputation online.
  3. Why s/he likes your book and how s/he plans to market your book, with reference to a timeline and how much you’ll potentially earn.

Note that real agents do not:

  1. Charge upfront fees
  2. Offer to edit for a fee
  3. Sell adjunct services to their clients
  4. Submit books to vanity or non-advance paying publishers

The critical step in the process is to research agents before you submit to them. Avoid agents who charge fees other than the standard 15 percent commission they receive on everything you get paid (your advance and royalties).

Narrow Your Search

Publishers Marketplace is one of the best places to research literary agents. Buy a subscription for $25 and access a wealth of information about publishing. With hundreds of agents hosting web pages, Publishers Marketplace is arguably the largest and most comprehensive repository to find info on top literary agencies. In fact, Publishers Marketplace claims to have “more e-mail and other contact information on more agents than any other source, updated daily.”

Member authors can create their own Publishers Marketplace web page and indicate they are seeking an agent, which advertises you to agent and publishers.

An added bonus to PublishersMarketplace.com is the deals database, which includes the actual dollar figure of the advances paid to authors for many books. The daily updates provide essential information and searches reveal editors’ buying patterns and more. The site also hosts a contact database that tracks editors on the move. Find out more here: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/benefits.shtml

Other resources to consider include:

  1. Manuscript Wish List visit: http://mswishlist.com/
  2. AgentQuery.com
  3. QueryTracker.net
  4. WritersMarket.com
  5. Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents 2017

Social media is also a powerful tool to locate agents. Search social media for associations of agents— there are plenty. Michael Larsen, literary agent, suggests authors check out the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) http://www.aaronline.org/ as an outlet for finding quality agents. According to Larsen, “The 450 agents in AAR are the best source of experienced, reputable agents. Members are required to follow the AAR’s code of ethics.”

Another resource for finding agents is simply the acknowledgments section in books similar to what you envision your own book to be. Read the acknowledgments and collect the names of those agents mentioned and contact them directly.

Don’t be shy— Have a presence.

Share your personal brand with the world, both online and in person. It’s wise to create professional social media accounts, an online work portfolio or blog. According to Michael Larsen, “Let agents find you- be visible online and off, get published and give talks, publicize your work and yourself. When you’re visible enough, agents will find you.”  This strategy worked for Andy Weir, author of The Martian. After selling 35,000 ebooks for $.99 and topping Amazon’s Sci-Fi Bestseller List, an agent contacted Weir and he was soon represented by Random House for a book deal. On top of that FOX contacted him for the film rights of his novel. The rest is history.

A popular networking strategy is to attend writers’ conferences. Particularly for first-time authors, there’s no better way to get to an agent than at a conference. Agents typically won’t sign authors on the spot, but accept their advice and remember that networking is pivotal to a successful career. According to Chip MacGregor, literary agent and author of Ask the Agent, “I love writers’ conferences. Don’t go thinking you’re going to land an agent; just plan to meet people and learn a lot.”  Where are the best conferences? Here’s a list I’ve compiled of upcoming writer’s conferences. http://bit.ly/Writer_Conferences

Make It Perfect. Practice Proper Etiquette

“Nothing detracts from good writing like bad editing,” says Debra Englander an experienced non-fiction editor and writer. “Submit your best work. Have it copy edited and proofread by a professional. Don’t ruin a potential relationship with an agent because of mistakes.”  Englander served as editorial director at John Wiley Publishing for nearly 17 years and was on the receiving end of thousands of pitches from agents and authors. She currently works with authors on creating winning book proposals and editing manuscripts.

Also, research an agent before you submit to them and check the agent’s guidelines before packaging and submitting your work. Before you commit to an agent, settle any unfinished business with others still considering your work. Just make it clear that you have an offer that requires an immediate decision.

If you think you’re ready to be placed with an agent, consider the direction your writing career is headed. According to Chuck Sambuchino, author of the Guide to Literary Agents, “Most agents say they’re looking to represent careers, not books.”

Bottom Line: Agents can land you the deal you could never obtain yourself. But the pursuit of an agent can take months and years. If you still want an agent then study up and do it now!

About Scott Lorenz
Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous startups, iPhone app developers, authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Visit: http://www.Book-Marketing-Expert.com

Authors: How to Sign a Top Literary Agent

By Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications

 

Time to Get an AgentLanding an agent for many authors is the most sought after goal. Why? It’s been long considered the fastest and most profitable path to publishing success. If that is your goal then you’ll want to check out these tips, techniques and resources to help you land the quality literary agent you are seeking.

Where to begin?

Get up to speed with the latest information with books and resources on the topic. According to Jeff Herman, book agent and author of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, authors should assess potential agents on the following points before sealing a deal:

  1. The list of books the agent has sold to publishers, including the publishers’ and authors’ names.
  2. The agent’s reputation online.
  3. Why s/he likes your book and how s/he plans to market your book, with reference to a timeline and how much you’ll potentially earn.

Note that real agents do not:

  1. Charge upfront fees
  2. Offer to edit for a fee
  3. Sell adjunct services to their clients
  4. Submit books to vanity or non-advance paying publishers

The critical step in the process is to research agents before you submit to them. Avoid agents who charge fees other than the standard 15 percent commission they receive on everything you get paid (your advance and royalties).

Narrow Your Search

Publishers Marketplace is one of the best places to research literary agents. Buy a subscription for $25 and access a wealth of information about publishing. With hundreds of agents hosting web pages, Publishers Marketplace is arguably the largest and most comprehensive repository to find info on top literary agencies. In fact, Publishers Marketplace claims to have “more e-mail and other contact information on more agents than any other source, updated daily.”

Member authors can create their own Publishers Marketplace web page and indicate they are seeking an agent, which advertises you to agent and publishers.

An added bonus to PublishersMarketplace.com is the deals database, which includes the actual dollar figure of the advances paid to authors for many books. The daily updates provide essential information and searches reveal editors’ buying patterns and more. The site also hosts a contact database that tracks editors on the move. Find out more here: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/benefits.shtml

Other resources to consider include:

  1. Manuscript Wish List visit: http://mswishlist.com/
  2. AgentQuery.com
  3. QueryTracker.net
  4. WritersMarket.com
  5. Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents 2017

Social media is also a powerful tool to locate agents. Search social media for associations of agents— there are plenty. Michael Larsen, literary agent, suggests authors check out the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) http://www.aaronline.org/ as an outlet for finding quality agents. According to Larsen, “The 450 agents in AAR are the best source of experienced, reputable agents. Members are required to follow the AAR’s code of ethics.”

Another resource for finding agents is simply the acknowledgments section in books similar to what you envision your own book to be. Read the acknowledgments and collect the names of those agents mentioned and contact them directly.

Don’t be shy— Have a presence.

Share your personal brand with the world, both online and in person. It’s wise to create professional social media accounts, an online work portfolio or blog. According to Michael Larsen, “Let agents find you- be visible online and off, get published and give talks, publicize your work and yourself. When you’re visible enough, agents will find you.”  This strategy worked for Andy Weir, author of The Martian. After selling 35,000 ebooks for $.99 and topping Amazon’s Sci-Fi Bestseller List, an agent contacted Weir and he was soon represented by Random House for a book deal. On top of that FOX contacted him for the film rights of his novel. The rest is history.

A popular networking strategy is to attend writers’ conferences. Particularly for first-time authors, there’s no better way to get to an agent than at a conference. Agents typically won’t sign authors on the spot, but accept their advice and remember that networking is pivotal to a successful career. According to Chip MacGregor, literary agent and author of Ask the Agent, “I love writers’ conferences. Don’t go thinking you’re going to land an agent; just plan to meet people and learn a lot.”  Where are the best conferences? Here’s a list I’ve compiled of upcoming writer’s conferences. http://bit.ly/Writer_Conferences

Make It Perfect. Practice Proper Etiquette

“Nothing detracts from good writing like bad editing,” says Debra Englander an experienced non-fiction editor and writer. “Submit your best work. Have it copy edited and proofread by a professional. Don’t ruin a potential relationship with an agent because of mistakes.”  Englander served as editorial director at John Wiley Publishing for nearly 17 years and was on the receiving end of thousands of pitches from agents and authors. She currently works with authors on creating winning book proposals and editing manuscripts.

Also, research an agent before you submit to them and check the agent’s guidelines before packaging and submitting your work. Before you commit to an agent, settle any unfinished business with others still considering your work. Just make it clear that you have an offer that requires an immediate decision.

If you think you’re ready to be placed with an agent, consider the direction your writing career is headed. According to Chuck Sambuchino, author of the Guide to Literary Agents, “Most agents say they’re looking to represent careers, not books.”

Bottom Line: Agents can land you the deal you could never obtain yourself. But the pursuit of an agent can take months and years. If you still want an agent then study up and do it now!

About Scott Lorenz

Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous startups, iPhone app developers, authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Visit: http://www.Book-Marketing-Expert.com

Authors: Hire An Agent’s ‘Agent’ to Sell Your Book

Landing an agent for your book is more difficult now than ever before. You have to know exactly what to say and how to say it in your query letter to beat out your competition and to increase your chances of ever getting signed.

As a professional book publicist, (www.book-marketing-expert.com) I am frequently asked to find an agent for my clients. While I know many agents and Jeff Riverapublishers and work with them, it’s not what I do. But, from time to time, I find someone who can really help out my clients and I’ve found that person. His name is Jeff Rivera, founder of Gumbo Writers based in New York City.

Rivera has been featured or mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, New York Observer, Fast Company, TMZ, NPR, Billboard Magazine, Huffington Post, and many other publications. Rivera interviews high profile power players such as Janet Evanovich, Jeff Kinney, Seth Godwin, Philippa Gregory and James Patterson for Mediabistro’s “Galley Cat” considered the publishing world’s TMZ.

Jeff’s query writing service is the #1 service of its kind. He crafts the perfect query letter for you, then selects the right literary agents to pitch to and sends the query out to them. Jeff guarantees at least 10 top agents will request your manuscript or book proposal. Jeff says this has worked successfully for more than 100 clients. That’s remarkable when you think that many writers cannot get even one literary agent to request their work, let alone read it. His record is over 200 agents requesting one client’s work. For one of my clients he got 19 requests. I was astounded and so was my client.

“Most aspiring writers have shot their chances of ever being represented by a literary agent before the agent has even had a chance to read their query letter,” explains Rivera. “Why? Because agents and people like me who work in the book publishing industry, know in two-seconds flat who is professional and who is not, just by a simple glance at their query letter.”
Rivera, who has ghost written countless successful query letters for clients, stresses that first impressions are everything and that there are a few common mistakes aspiring writers make over and over again that block them from being taken seriously. “It’s really unfortunate because there are some very talented writers out there but writing a query letter is a whole other art,” adds Rivera.

As a book publicist and book marketing expert who deals daily with the media, I learned a long time ago that a common mistake in crafting pitch letters is making them too long. The same is true of query letters to an agent. A query letter should be no more than half a page. You have to know exactly what agents want to hear, what they’re looking for. Tell them only that and end the letter right there! Keep it short, keep it sweet and you’ll be one step closer to landing an agent.

The next key to a successful pitch letter to the media and a successful query letter to an agent is the first sentence. Here are some ways to grab an agent’s attention in the very first sentence:
• Start with a question that makes them ponder
• Talk about a dramatic moment in your personal life that connects with the book you’ve written
• Tell them immediately about your platform
• Compliment them on a specific recent sale
• Tell them who referred you

Remember that referrals are an aspiring author’s best friend. If you can find someone the literary agent knows to recommend you, or at least someone who will allow you to use their name in an introduction, you’ll be ten steps ahead of everyone else. When someone else refers you or recommends you to an agent, you are brought in at that same level. You don’t start from ground zero, like all the other aspiring authors, but begin on a whole other plane. Always, always, always get the person’s permission to use their name before you mention them. And because you’ve gotten their permission your referral person also may even be kind enough to give the literary agent a call or email to let them know that you’ll be reaching out to them.

Remember that agents are in the business of selling books. They’re not our best friends, they’re not our therapists, and they’re not our life coaches. The best agents put their nose to the ground, they focus on what they do best which is generating enough excitement on a book and sell it for as high a price as possible. When you get paid, they get paid. End of story.
One novelist hired Rivera who wrote one sentence about what the novel was actually about. “Don’t you think we should tell them more about it?” the client asked. Rivera told him, “Who cares what it’s about? You’re a regular guest on Fox News.”

A book agent or book publicist can turn your manuscript into a best seller – if you listen carefully and follow their advice. You know how to write – they know how to sell your book.
The bottom line: Why reinvent the wheel? Sign up with an “agent’s agent” like Jeff Rivera by dropping him a note at query@gumbowriters.com and then listen to his advice.

About Jeff Rivera
Jeff Rivera and his work have been featured by National Public Radio (NPR),Los Angeles Times, Fast Company, New York Observer, The Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, Mediabistro, Huffington Post, SethGodin.com, Forbes.com, Billboard.com, TMZ and many other outlets. Rivera interviews high profile power players such as Janet Evanovich, Jeff Kinney, Seth Godwin, Philippa Gregory and James Patters for Mediabistro’s “Galley Cat.” Contact Jeff at: query@gumbowriters.com