Approaching an Agent
Some publishing houses require you to have a literary agent before you can approach them.
So how do you approach a literary agent?
If you are writing fiction, make sure your book is fully finished and you have revised it. Get people to read it and give feedback. This feedback will allow you to redraft your book and make it the best you can make it. If you are writing non fiction, you must give a proposal giving an overview of your project. Give a breakdown of the chapters you plan to write, with at least one complete chapter that gives a sense of your voice and the direction your book will go in.
Agents look for certain personalities within an author. They look for authenticity; to know why you’re the best person to tell this particular story. You need to be authentic. As well as this, you need to be unique and have a new, different voice. This new voice will make you the next best thing. You need to have an intricate plot, to know how each aspect of the plot will add to the story.
When pitching your book, you need to have confidence but not too much. Don’t be arrogant. Share your book with enthusiasm and have faith in your work. Having a good sense of where your book will go on shelves; what books will surround yours is good. It shows you’ve done your research into books similar to yours. Continuing on from this, do your research into the agent you’re submitting to and know who they are, what they’re looking for, etc. Make sure your first page (or proposal) is killer, enough to hook the agent straight away.
Some common pitfalls in pitching include making typos, accidentally cc-ing every other agent you’ve sent to, submitting your work to the wrong agent, and many more. Make sure you are certain about your decision, double check what you’ve written to the agent and do not copy and paste your words to one agent and send them to another.
In a covering letter, there are things an agent will look for. They like to get a clear sense that the writer is definitely in the business because they love writing and have an extreme passion for it. They need to know that you know your own novel, telling them in a few basic lines that draw them in and catches their attention immediately. Try to show an understanding of writing, publishing, other authors, other books, and more. Do not be boring. You need to sell yourself and sell your work.
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