Looking for Literary Agents
One of the many daunting steps after completing a manuscript is to look for literary agents that might be interested in your manuscript and who might hopefully represent and help you try to break into what is, essentially, a difficult market.
Of course, before you do anything, it’s essential that you have proofread and polished your manuscript so that it is error free and has been correctly formatted. It needs to be complete in its entirety. Not only that, but you need to ensure your work is professionally presented. You won’t get far if you submit sloppy, untidy work accompanied by a badly written submission.
Looking for agents isn’t about picking a name and sending them your manuscript. It involves research. Literary agents vary on what genres they prefer, what lengths they work with and whether they specialise in fiction or non-fiction. Time spent looking at agents and what they require is time well spent.
In the UK, writers can use the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, which contains full listings of agents and publishers, together with submission guidelines, and in the US, the equivalent is the Writer’s Market. The internet is also a good way of finding more about agents that represent countries outside of the UK and the US such Australia, Canada, Europe and Asia. There are a lot of different websites that can help, for example Australian Literary Agents’ Association and the Canadian Authors Association. For areas such as Europe or Asia, and elsewhere, you can find individual literary agency pages listed on the internet by doing a search of literary agents within your country.
Look for agents that will represent your genre. Some agents specialise in one genre or they might handle several. You don’t want to waste their time or yours sending a romance novel if they only deal with YA books.
The internet is great way to look up the agents and their websites so that you can see the kind of genres they want, the authors they represent and how long they’ve been established. That gives you an idea of their track record. That way you can gauge how reputable they are and the quality they represent. You can also check out Absolute Write for more resources on literary agents, or the Writer Beware blog, which highlights the less reputable agents and publishers and scammers out there.
A literary agent has to fit your requirements as an author as much as you have to fit theirs, so look for the kind of agents you’ll be happy to work with, because if you are lucky enough to be accepted, you may be asked to change or tweak the manuscript in order to fit with what they are looking for. This is where many writers come unstuck, because they simply won’t change anything because it doesn’t need changing, and if you cannot accommodate their advice or suggestions, then finding an agent will be made all the more difficult. You may find yourself rejected.
If you want their expertise and advice, be professional, not childish.
Don’t rush the process and pick out names from a long list because they sound good. Look for what they specialise in. Look for reputation and the authors they represent. Look at their track record. Look at why they might be good for you and your book.
It pays to do your research and due diligence.