Before I secured agent representation, I devoured these kinds of posts like a dieter demolishing a packet of chocolate hobnobs. I couldn’t get enough of them, those fairy tales for aspiring writers: How I Found My Agent And Lived Happily Ever After. I pored over them, looking for clues, tips, rules. Of course there are no rules, and there is certainly an element of luck involved – my particular luck being that the genre I love to read and have always written in, is currently very hot. However, there are a couple of specific things that I did which contributed to me getting my agent:
These two things helped me, but it doesn’t mean they are the right routes for everyone. The most important things you can do are to make sure your book is as good as you can possibly get it before querying agents, and then send it to the right agents: research them first – don’t send your sci-fi epic to an agent that specialises in very literary fiction. Read about them on their websites, google them, follow them on twitter. When it comes to query letters, I can’t improve on this wonderful, illuminating post by author Jessie Burton http://jessieburton.co.uk/the-miniaturist/dear-juliet in which she and her agent Juliet Mushens deconstruct Jessie’s query letter for The Miniaturist.
One thing I have realised since being allowed through the hallowed doors of publishing is that agents are actually looking for good books all the time. I know it doesn’t feel like that from the other side, but it’s true. If your book is good, and you send it to the right agent and they think they can sell it, there is a good chance they will take you on.
Please do post any questions in the comments box below, I’d love to hear from you.
I am retired and have written all my life. Three years ago I started to write novels and immediately had one published by an American Company which took money from me and never marketed my book. I bought the copyright back and have now had another novel published by an Australian company but in every case I have had to contribute financially to the finished product. I can now no longer afford more money but still have three novels which I would like to see published. Do you have an agent who is prepared to look at my work and decide whether Curtis Brown is prepared to take me on. I would be grateful for your advice. Regards Brian Clark
Brian Clark, 6 May, 2017
Hi Brian, take a look here https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/page/submissions which has the info you need to submit a novel to Curtis Brown. There’s also a useful website called Agent Hunter https://www.agenthunter.co.uk/ which lists all the literary agents and has useful advice. I would definitely be wary of companies that are after your money. A real literary agent will never ask you for money. Good luck!
Laura, 15 May, 2017
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