Every first time writer has the same question: how do I get my book in front of a literary agent? Often times this comes into the mind as the writer feels that they are wrapping up the writing process and putting the last few touches on their work. Jumping too quickly into the process of getting a literary agent could spell doom for your manuscript, at least until you take the proper steps.
Let's take a look at how you can get your literary masterpiece in front of a literary agent who is actively looking for writers to publish in your genre. We are going to break it down step by step to help give you the best chances with your manuscript.
Find Literary Agents in Your Niche Genre
It is important to not just query every agent that you find on the internet, you want to spend the time creating a list of agents that represent similar books in your niche. Every agent has a theme, niche, and preference that they look for in genres and writing in general. By finding agents that closely match your writing, you will give your work the best chance possible.
Google will be another friend here, simply Google [your niche] agents. An even better option though is to find a collection of authors that write similar works to yours and then Google their agents. Put these names at the top of your list.
Another alternative is to enter writing contests and writing competitions. There aren't many who offer you the chance to get your writing in front of a literary agent, but at Page Turner Awards, we pride ourselves on this achievement. Check out our 2020 Winners, three of whom won a literary agent to represent them, plus many more won publishing contracts.
Research About Each Literary Agent
It is incredibly important to remember that literary agents are people too, not just business professionals. This means that they have preferences and dislike certain pieces of writing and love certain genres. Over their career, they have also developed expertise in those areas, so they will have an easier time working with them. Learning these preferences along with their personal tastes in characters, themes and genre, will help you to get the attention of the literary agent.
Take notes on what you learn about the literary agents and keep them handy for the rest of the process. Break the notes down so they are easy to reference.
Write Individual Query Letters
Crafting letters to agents isn’t something that should be rushed. Take the time to create every letter from scratch. Trust us, literary agents know when a letter has been written from a template. A writer who uses a template for their query letter does not come across as an able writer.
Another reason to craft each letter individually is so that you can include some of your notes from the previous step. By including information that the agent likes and wants to find in a novel manuscript, you can appeal to them and perhaps even something as simple as this can hook them into asking to see your full novel's manuscript. Not only does it appeal to the agent, custom tailored queries show the agent that you are willing to put effort into what you do. Kudos!
Double Check Everything
You are a human, so you may think it's okay if you make one or two spelling mistakes. No! Your writing shouldn’t be littered with errors. Before you send your query to an agent, make sure to go over said query at least once more to make sure everything is in order. Try out online writing software like ProWritingAid who offer a free trial and get your manuscript novel in perfect shape.
It never hurts to have another set of eyes look over your work before you send it in. Find an impartial party such as a fellow writer or someone else who will be honest with you. You don’t want someone who is just going to tell you what you want to hear, you want them to be honest. Mums and Moms are great for so many things but probably not for giving you honest feedback. That's only because they love you and don't want to hurt your feelings. You may want to try and get some Beta Readers to read your writing and give you some serious feedback that will only help your writing get discovered.
Sending To Literary Agents
Once you have checked everything at least twice if not several times, it is time to send off your queries. Make sure that you send the query in the method that the agent states. While most literary agents will now allow for you to email queries, some still require you to use snail mail. When emailing your query, make sure that you follow the directions provided. For example, some agents will ignore emails without attachments while others may want your query to be in the text of the email.
Take what you have learned to help yourself get your book in front of a literary agent. If you have other questions about writing or becoming an author make sure to check out some of our other articles on finding a literary agent for your writing.
Literary Agent Critique
Another great alternative to jump the long queues of literary agents is to try literary agent critiques or workshops run by literary agents. Page Turner Awards run several Workshops and Boot Camps to help writers get their writing ready to be placed in front of a literary agent or critiqued by a literary agent. Check out our Workshops and Boot Camps.