Finding an agent is easy. Just do an online search for “literary agents.” However, getting an agent to agree to represent you is hard, very hard.
Unlike hiring an accountant or attorney to represent us where we can vet them and pick the best one to meet our needs, agents vet their clients so they can pick the best ones.
Remember that agents only earn money if they sell one of their clients’ books. So unless a client is a polished writer, there’s a good chance the agent will spend a lot of time working for the client and have nothing to show for it. Therefore, they have a strong incentive to only take on clients whose work they think they can sell.
How to Impress Agents
This means we need to sell ourselves to agents. Here’s what’s required:
- Hone your skill as a writer.
- Set up a professional online presence. They will check for one and will expect to find it.
- If you’re on social media, make sure it’s professional and conveys you in a positive manner. Do everything you can to remove negative comments and unflattering photos. But remember that once something’s online, it never really goes away.
- Learn how to pitch your book, write a one-page summary, submit a query, and produce a proposal.
- Learn about agents you’d like to have represent you. Follow their blogs and make respectful, thoughtful comments.
- Ask other writers, who you trust, to give you an honest answer if your work is ready for agents.
Know that writing ability is only part of the equation.
What Agents Look For
Agents will also want you to have a platform so that you can help sell books. When I was looking for an agent, one agent declined to represent me, not because of my writing, but because they thought my platform was too small.
Be Patient When Finding an Agent
A final item is to be patient. Finding an agent to represent you takes time, usually several months and often years. As you wait, keep working to improve as a writer and building your platform.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.