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Boutique Literary Agencies: Legit or Worth Ignoring?

Updated on September 19, 2014

Going into the writing business can be completely overwhelming. There is so much more to getting your work published than most people realize. As someone who jumped head first into the agent seeking quest, I understand the frustration of the publishing process and have also come across a few noteworthy truths. In the olden days of snail mail queries and optional agent representation, there were less risks of being ripped off. Nowadays is another story. With more options comes more possibilities of getting gipped. So, be mindful of who you submit your material to.

Is Traditional Publishing the Only Way?

After finishing my first novel, I was ecstatic to start looking for representation. I jumped right in with a big fat grin and foolishly thought I knew all there was to know about the writing industry after a few hours of online research. I quickly realized that the options for aspiring authors are incredibly vast, each with its own set of specifications to adhere to. The trick is to find the method that best suits you and your work.

For some, traditional publishing is the perfect choice. It has been proven effective time and time again and doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. However, it is important to note that this method is not the only way to achieve one's writing goals. There is the growingly popular self-publishing method--which requires some extra investment on your part--and the exclusive, more personal boutique agencies.

What is a Boutique Agency?

Boutique agencies are basically the same as traditional agencies. The main differences are the amount of agents that work within the company in question and how they ask for submissions. So far, the boutique agencies that I have visited--and by visited I mean perused their website--ask for more material initially than a normal literary agency. Many I have come across ask that you not only send a query letter, but that you also send either the first fifty pages of your book or the whole manuscript. Doing this cuts out an entire period of painful waiting time, which is good news for all of you out there who are fresh to the trade.

Things to Lookout For!

Words are power. One seemingly unimportant word can tell you a lot about a person. The same principle applies for writing. There are a few clues to lookout for that will tell you if an agency is legitimate or not. For instance, if an agency asks you for some of your material, then immediately provides a disclaimer saying that they will not be held accountable for any similar materials produced if your manuscript does not get accepted, they probably are not an agency that you should get involved with. Another red flag is if the agency contacts you without you ever contacting them. This is only a trustworthy practice if you have submitting works to a literary magazine or the like; and even then it is a bit iffy, so play it safe, guys.

Good Luck & Write On!


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