So what exactly do you need a literary agent for? To be specific, a book agent assists you in reaching out to a renowned traditional publishing house. They know which professional editors, writers, and publishers you’d need for a specific type of genre. They understand the fast-evolving marketing trends and ensure your book receives all the attention and hype needed to become a bestseller. In this blog, you will learn about the importance of hiring a literary agent in order to reach out to a traditional publication house.
What Is A Literary Agent?
A literary agent’s main job is to find book proposals that a traditional publisher will consider buying. Next, they’ll negotiate that purchase. The agent receives 15% of the total amount if the publisher buys the book proposal. While paying a literary agent may seem costly, it’s the price authors will have to pay to get their book accepted by a traditional publisher.
Look at it this way, traditional publishers don’t have enough time to look at thousands of book proposals coming their way. Therefore, a book agent assists them and ensures they get a book that is worth publishing. They act as an intermediary between authors and publication houses, saving them both time and energy.
Also Read: How to Get a Publisher for a Book in 2022
Now, the question is, what type of genres does a traditional publisher look for? The answer is simple: any book that a large audience will want to buy! Authors need to prove their book is worth publishing even before they complete their manuscript and literary agents make sure they can sell plenty of copies without much help.
Before the evolution of the book industry, traditional publishers excelled at selling books to bookstores. However, after the internet came along and e-books changed everything, many authors considered publishing books themselves. This resulted in the economic decline of the book market. Publishers started losing money and couldn’t afford to sell books that didn’t have a great audience in line. This is why traditional publishers need book agents; to ensure the book they are about to sell will generate great profits.
Do I Need An Agent To Publish A Book?
Authors who need traditional publishers to publish their content do need a literary agent. However, traditional publishing isn’t all that beneficial. It has its fair share of drawbacks too. For instance, authors won’t have any rights over published content besides book sales. They can’t use their books to generate free leads nor can they run promotions with it. Authors who choose traditional publishing can’t even publish excerpts from their own content on their website without the publisher’s approval.
In summary, traditional book publishers will:
- Offer no help writing the book
- Take all your digital and print rights
- Not make any efforts marketing your book
- Limit your book’s promotional and marketing options
- Demand all control over your content
- Take up to 3 years before finally publishing your book
Thus, traditional publishing isn’t for everyone. However, it isn’t all that bad either. In fact, it can be the perfect choice for some nonfiction authors. If you’ve evaluated your options and believe your book will make a great hit, then traditional publishing is the right choice for you. The question is, how to find a professional literary agent? Well, keep reading to find out!
How to Get a Literary Agent: 6 Detailed Steps to Get One!
1. Sell Your Book
If you want a traditional publishing house to publish your nonfiction book, you’ll have to write a book proposal.
Weird, isn’t it?
This is because the publisher will want to know whether or not your book would make great profits even before your write it. The entire process will make sense once you register that! Therefore, the first step to finding a literary agent is to prove you can sell your own books.
Create a detailed business plan for your book that shows you’re savvy enough for the publishers. Your book proposal must sound convincing and yet, not desperate. It should be about 30-50 pages depicting the following information:
- The main idea or overview of your book
- Reasons why it will make a great hit
- A well-constructed marketing strategy that explains how you will boost your book’s sales
- A well-written outline of your book
- A draft of the first chapter to give your publishers an idea of what your book will be about
- You may also use influencer quotes, comparable titles, or media links to persuade your agent.
2. Summarize Your Book Proposal with a Query Letter
Soon after writing the book proposal follows the one-page query letter. It’s a sales pitch, presenting the most significant part of your book proposal such that the information is easy to comprehend quickly. Thus, query letters are the shorter versions of your book proposal that push your literary agents to give your book proposal a read. Therefore, authors must create a well-constructed query letter so their book gets accepted by a traditional publisher.
A well-written query letter includes the following information about your book:
- A compelling storyline
- An eagerly awaiting audience
- A promising marketing plan
- Author’s professionalism and skills
Unfortunately, literary agents read a lot of query letters too, which is why you should cater to creating unique and persuasive content. Avoid lying, and simply highlight the important aspects upfront. Also, authors must change their query letters for each literary agent they reach out to. Your letter must reflect why you considered them to be your agent and why you want to avail their services.
3. Do Your Research
The book market is getting competitive day after day, and literary agents are on the lookout for books they can sell. Therefore, finding an agent through your query becomes easy. Simply, check out your agent’s manuscript wish list to fathom the kinds of books they are looking to promote.
Here’s how you can research a good literary agent:
Search a Publisher’s Marketplace
The easiest and quickest way of finding agents is to search a publisher’s marketplace. Find out which agents are dealing with your genre. Go to their search page, and search for the kind of deals that would best meet your standards and budget. Use the dropdown box and select the nonfiction option. The results will help you find a traditional publisher with the best deals
Refer to Agent Query
Agent Query is the largest database for finding literary agents on the internet. It’s free and full of literary agents that you can reach out to. All you have to do is search the relevant genre of your book and choose an agent’s profile according to their current interests. Check their wish list and visit their website.
Manuscript Wish List
A manuscript wish list is an online platform of editors and agents, who post about how authors can reach out to them and what content they are looking to market. Authors can search up agents by their name using the advanced search option, or browse through a list of agents for the nonfiction genre. Focus on agents you think will best help you out.
Twitter is another huge platform where authors can find literary agents online. The world of social media is ever-growing, and literary agents use it to talk about their wish lists. Use the advanced search option on Twitter or use hashtags to learn about the available agents.
4. Shortlist Your Options
Shortlist the agents you might want to send a query to. Research them online, or visit their website to learn more about their expertise. Search them on LinkedIn or look up their interviews on YouTube to make a decision.
5. Option for Methodological Query
Finding a good literary agent can be a challenging and tedious process. Furthermore, writing a query can be time-consuming and slow. Therefore, don’t rush through the process and send your queries to all your shortlisted literary agents. Choose a mix of your chosen agents and send your first round of queries. Make sure you read their instructions and personalize your query accordingly. If the first bunch of agents don’t respond to your query, consider changing it to get better attention next time.
If you still don’t get any response to your queries, perhaps you should consider hiring a professional book writer to create your book proposal and query letter. Nevertheless, doing so doesn’t guarantee that your query will get accepted.
6. Face Reality
Feeling exhausted from waiting for a literary agent to respond back? Perhaps, it’s time you face reality. Perhaps, traditional publishing isn’t the right option for you and that isn’t bad at all. Big traditional publishing companies take all your rights, leaving you unable to use your content for any other purpose. Here are a few things you can use your book for by ditching traditional publishing:
- Publish excerpts of your book on your website to prove your skills
- Sending your book’s first edition as a sales pitch by the time you finish writing your second one.
- Use your book as a lead generator for your business
- Give a copy to potential clients to stand out in the crowd when bidding on a project
Who Do Literary Agents Serve?
Kudos for having read this blog so far. Allow us to sum it up by elaborating on the two controversial and counterintuitive aspects of book agents:
1. Literary Agents Work For Traditional Publishers Alone
As harsh as it may sound, a literary agent doesn’t really work for authors. This is because there are only a few traditional houses but several authors out there. Thus, literary agents only care about the party that pays them.
2. Literary Agents Don’t Care About Your Book
All a literary agent ever cares about is making a publishing company buy your book because that’s how they’ll get paid. Therefore, literary agents only work for traditional publishing companies and not authors. Currently, traditional publishers only consider authors who have a well-established platform.
Some Authors Need a Literary Agent If:
- They wish to reach out to a traditional publication house
- They are writing a nonfiction book
- They believe their content will bring hefty profits
Authors Don’t Need A Literary Agent If:
- They are writing a fiction story
- Considering self-publishing
- Don’t have enough budget to pay a large sum upfront
Authors May Need a Literary Agent If:
- They have availed professional book writing services for their book proposal and query letter
- They have a high budget
A literary agent plays a crucial role in an author’s career. They represent your content to the industry members and approach reputable studios, editors, film producers, publishers, etc., to promote your work. However, not all literary agents are successful or work for all kinds of authors. Therefore, consider hiring a literary agent if it best meets your budget and needs.