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18 Literary Agents Reveal “How to Land a Book Deal”

Literary Agents Spill The Beans

By Scott Lorenz
Westwind Communications

Whether you’re a new author or have been on the New York Times Bestseller List for years, literary agents are likely top of mind. After all, these professionals may be just what you need to get published or take your career to the next level. A quality agent can review your manuscript and help you land a lucrative book deal.

Since literary agents are so integral to success, I came up with this revealing compilation of interviews with literary agents. Tune in and prepare to be inspired! Sometimes all that it takes is a little insight into the process that can help you gain a competitive edge and succeed in your writing career.

1. Jeff Herman


Jeff Herman is a well-respected agent and the author of “Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents.” He entered book publishing in his mid 20s when he didn’t have much experience. Since he had to figure out a lot on his own, he wrote this book to steer new authors in the right direction. In my opinion, investing in this book is a must, no matter where you are in your career. Once you read it, you’ll find it well worth the money.

Jeff Herman

2. Brooks Sherman


Brooks Sherman shares what he looks for in a query letter. He explains that the most effective letters focus on plot and character rather than themes or messages. In addition, he likes to learn about a writer’s educational background as well as details about any past publications and writer’s workshops they’ve participated in.

Brooks Sherman

3. Mollie Glick


Mollie Glick states that she loves her job as a literacy agent because it challenges her to figure out how to push messages that are worth sharing into the world. She often reaches out to authors who have accomplished something that is incredibly inspirational or post something that sparks an interesting conversation.

Mollie Glick

4. Sallyanne Sweeney


Sallyanne Sweeney explains that she enjoys working with writers on manuscripts that they might have been working on for years. She loves to see the transformation from an initial idea to a finished book and being involved in every aspect of the publishing process.

Sallyanne Sweeney

5. Howard Yoon


Howard Yoon explains that the process of working with an author is a lot like dating. During the first couple of meetings, you’re not sure if things are going to work out. When it actually does work, everything clicks. Yoon chooses books he believes have a valuable contribution to the world.

Howard Yoon

6. Mark Gottlieb


Mark Gottlieb talks about how authors can go about finding agents. He says that authors should always aim high and think highly of themselves. Gottlieb recommends Publishers Marketplace, which ranks publishers by number of books deals and lets you filter your search by genre.

Mark Gottlieb

7. Alyssa Jennette


Alyssa Jennette talks about what authors should do before seeking an agent. She suggests they send their work to a critique group, an editor, or another professional so they can look it over and provide feedback before it gets in front of an agent. This way it’ll be as ready for publishing as possible.

Alyssa Jennette

8. Jessica Reino


Jessica Reino reinforces the fact that every author is unique so it’s important to write what you want to write and edit your work the way you see fit. She also discusses Twitter and other social media platforms, which she highly recommends to nonfiction authors. Reino notes that if you’re going to create social media outlets, only do so if you’re going to actively use them.

Jessica Reino

9. Eva Scalzo


Eva Scalzo encourages her authors to tell her which editors and publishers they’d like to work with as many have specific preferences. She advises them on what they need to know about these professionals and organizations and helps them come up with a backup plan.

Eva Scalzo

10. Katie Greenstreet


Katie Greenstreet explains that she looks for a very unique voice in the first chapter. She loves quirky narrators and will always be drawn to something that she hasn’t seen before. Greenstreet also wants to know that an author truly understands the big picture of their work and conveys it clearly in their synopsis.

Katie Greenstreet

11. Jim McCarthy


Jim McCarthy explains that there are plenty of great books, but he can’t represent them for the sole reason that he doesn’t have the editorial vision for them. He reinforces the fact that authors should find agents that are worthy of them.

Jim McCarthy

12. Stephen Barbara


Stephen Barbara reveals that his role as an agent is a combination of support, advocacy, and a little bit of therapy. He also explains that he likes query letters that prove writers have done their research and know who he is and what he’s done in the past.

Stephen Barbara

13. Broo Doherty


Broo Doherty discusses general questions about literary agents and gives insight about what it’s like to be an agent. She also dives deep into what she’s looking for in new clients and how she manages her existing client base.

Broo Doherty

14. Ted Weinstein


Ted Weinstein states that the keys to success for any author come down to two things: marketability and personal passion. He also encourages authors to do their research when looking for agents and recommends a few great books for them to read.

Ted Weinstein

15. Davinia Andrew-Lynch


Davinia Andrew-Lynch goes over the typical day of a literary agent. She explains that every day is different. Some days are packed with meetings while others are filled with editing manuscripts. There are also days reserved for admin work like sorting through contracts and consulting with designers about covers.

Davinia Andrew-Lynch

16. Donald Maass


Renowned agent Donald Maass founded the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 1980. His agency sells more than 150 novels to major publishers on a national and global level. He states that he tries to articulate why a certain plot or character isn’t working to truly help authors.

Donald Maass

17. Andrea Somberg


Andrea Somberg has been a literary agent for over 15 years and represents several New York Times bestselling authors. In this hour-long interview, she discusses a number of topics, including what draws her to queries, what types of authors succeed, and how new authors can grow their careers.

Andrea Somberg

18. Chip MacGregor


Chip MacGregor has represented many big-time authors including Brennan Manning, Vincent Zandri, Rachel Hauck, Mindy Clark, Irene Hannon, Bonnie Gray, and Michelle McKinney. In this interview, he talks about the changing world of publishing, primarily in the Christian market.

Chip MacGregor

The Bottom Line: Watch these literary agent interviews. Take notes. Even if they don’t represent your genre, they can offer your insight into the process of “Getting A BOOK DEAL.”

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at https://www.WestwindBookMarketing.com or contact Lorenz at [email protected] or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz’s new award winning, bestselling book: Book Title Generator- A Proven System in Naming Your Book www.BookTitleGenerator.net.

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