Agents: 4 Tips for How to Approach One - article

You have written a wonderful book and want to see it published. You believe that forming a partnership with an agent will be best course of action in your journey toward publication, but you have no idea how to approach an agent. Are there any rules or protocols to the process? Are there any unseen pitfalls ahead? The following tips should help achieve success.

Tip #1

Approach agents online. Almost all agents have an online presence. They are looking for authors, and it is just good business to put our feelers for new clients. Most agents have a blog, a twitter account, and a Facebook page. Join them on these online conversations and listen for a while.

The big “don’t” here -- don’t be a stalker. Join in the conversation, but if you have nothing intelligent to say, listen and learn. When you have a salient comment, jump into the into fray and let your savvy shine. Be sure to copy edit all posts.

Tip #2

Approach agents in person. Most agents are continually traveling around the country on a regular basis, making appearances at conferences. At most conferences these agents will offer feedback for a fee. This is not considered a query or submission to an agent, but can serve as a pace of introduction.

Again, it is important to not be stalker (i.e. never follow an agent into the bathroom to shove your flash drive under the door). And be prepared. Have an elevator pitch ready. Also, take some time to figure out who she represents and what she likes. Dress professionally and let your knowledge shine. Mention her clients.

Tip #3

Approach agents through emails. This is a common way to reach out to agents. You have done your research. You’ve read blogs. You’ve checked out the online interviews. You are even a fan of some of the agent’s clients. When you contact an agent, mention your research. Don’t be shy.

One great part of contacting an agent through an email is that your writing skills have the chance to shine. Literary agents want to see your unique voice. Showcase your writing ability when you approach an agent. Also check out the agent’s submission guidelines on her website. Follow these guidelines exactly. Be sure to spell the agent’s name right and get the gender right too.

Tip #4

Uncommon ways to approach agents. Some writers still like to send out snail mail queries. Follow all the email advice to make sure your query gets answered. Be sure to check out the agent’s website and verify that she takes snail mail. Some agents refuse the stuff and toss it in the trash.

Another uncommon way is to reach out to your network for a personal referral. Some agents will only talk to potential clients who are referred to them. Yet another avenue is winning contests. Many writing organization like the Writer’s League of Texas and Pacific Northwest Writers both have annual conferences that include contests to get your work in front of agents.

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