This account of one author’s strategy that she and her co-author took for finding a literary agent is part of our article, Getting a Book Published — Is It Worth It?
Noting that a literary agent is a virtual necessity for a prospective author seeking to get publishing today, author Kate Lister describes how she and her co-author went about finding one:
We started with Publisher’s Marketplace, [which has] a couple of neat features called Track Books and Amazoom (you won’t see them until you log in), where you can track information about competing books. There are no sales numbers, but if it’s a bestseller it will be listed in the bestseller section. There’s also a place where you can look up [agents who are] representing similar books. To find the agents, go to Find Members and put in your category and other info.
Once you have a list [of prospective agents], be sure to check it out with Predator and Editor (P&E), “a guide to publishers and publishing services for serious writers.” In our case, we sent only to the P&E agents with a recommend and highly recommend rating. And, since we’re lazy, we sent only to those who accepted email queries. Unbelievably, about half don’t.
Then we went to each agent’s web site and looked at each individual agent’s profile to determine which person to send the proposal to. [Agents] don’t seem to share well with others, even within their own firms.
For query and book-proposal advice I like AgentQuery and Michael Hyatt’s article, “Writing a Winning Book Proposal”.
My own thoughts on the query/proposal: Go into sales mode. Tell ’em all about how you’re gonna bust your butt to market this book. Show them you understand who your readers are. A good way to get this information is to find magazines your readers are likely to read and get their media kits from the Web; there’s a wealth of information there. Dig into similar successful titles and show how yours will be as good or better (but never bad-mouth the successful competition).
Go to the Web sites for the successful book and do a links search (type into Google: “link:”the web site name) and look at who’s linking to [each book’s site]. Determine if you think you can get links from [the same sources] as well (.edu and .gov links are treasures, if you can think of any of those that would link to you). Think about Web sites with high page ranks that will link to you. Is there a way to market [your book] through military web sites? Would they link to yours? Think about what influential people you can get to write jacket quotes or a forward. Use lots of bullets in your proposal; you’re dealing with very short attention spans.
Go back to Getting a Book Published — Is It Worth It?
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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