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How to Gain Yourself a Literary Agent or Publisher

Updated on September 11, 2012

Guide to Literary Agents and Publishers

Hello fellow writers and up and coming ones. When writing, you want be heard, so sometimes this is the best way in doing so. Because being verbal isn’t your thing and sometimes the best way to get a point across is though writing. You can write about anything you set your mind to. Whether it be writing stories fiction or non-fiction, current events or just stuff about yourself and how you feel. Now, there are those who want to take it to an even higher platform and get it published. To be heard by not only family and friends, but to the whole world. If you’re an aspiring writer, then the writing thing is the easy part. Getting it out there is the hard part. There are two ways of getting it through. Regular traditional publishing and self-publishing. Now in this article I’m going to be focusing on the steps on how to gain either a literary agent or a publisher.

Literary Agents

Literary agents are people who would help you get to a publisher. Basically, they do all the work for you in getting a publisher instead of yourself going out there. With trying to get an agent, you’re going have to impress them with your writing. It’s like a mail-in interview where you’re going to sell yourself. Literary agents want to see that you can hold your own in the writing industry. They want to see that they can profit off of what you are doing. Their job is to find a publisher for you, but that takes time and money as well because they are not only helping you find a publisher, but they are helping you out as well. When finding an agent, you’re going to want to write a query letter.


Taking it to a Publisher is a bit different because you’re skipping the entire agent part which eliminates some time. With writing to a Publisher, you have to be bit more careful for you don’t have that literary agent to back you up. Basically, you’re on your own when it comes to a publisher. An agent basically handles all your deals and your royalties. They handle all the negotiations in your contract because the better the contract, the better for you and the better for them because that’s how they get paid. Going straight to the Publisher eliminates all of that. But you have to be careful with what they send you should they want to sign a contract with you. You’ll have to do it on your own or hire a lawyer to look over the contract with you. You can go with either way that makes you feel comfortable. But before you do that, you’re going to want to go out and get this book that I’ve been getting for the past 7 years and its called ‘Guide to Literary Agents’ by Writer’s Digest Books.

Guide to Literary Agent Book

I’ve been getting this book for more than 7 years now and a new edition of the book comes out every year sometime in November. There is also another book out there by the same team called ‘Writer’s Market’. This one has it all. From literary agents, to magazines that you can write to, to contest, to even publishers. This book is the real deal because it takes out all of the spam and scams and stuff that you would get online. Now with what I like about both books is that it teaches you on how to write a query letter, your bio and other things that might be necessary to either a literary agent or a publisher. They also have stories from other authors on how they’ve made it and the steps they did to do so. I highly recommend this book to those who want to get into this business. Now, back to getting an actual agent with a query letter.

Writing a Query Letter

A query letter basically letting the agent know briefly who you are and what your book is about. Some literary agents might ask for more like a bio of yourself or a couple of sample chapters from your book. My advice to you, if you have a book in mind, write the book and make sure that it’s done before you even do a query letter because you may never know if they want the entire book or not and you don’t want to look silly and unprofessional in the end. So once you do all of that, they would tell you if they want you to either send it to them via e-mail or regular mail. Follow their guidelines real good. Whether it be their guidelines in the book or their actually website. Send it to them and there you have it. Now all you have to do is wait and see if they respond. Most of them do respond in a personal letter or e-mail while others do an informal one because they’re too busy wanting to do a personal one. It can take anywhere from an hour to a couple of months. Depends on how you do it.

In Conclusion

In this industry, you have to have something that a lot of people don’t have and that’s patience. That’s really the key if you want to get by here. Just to be upfront with all, you might not get a contract agent on the first try. Most people don’t. Even with the best of writers right now, it took them years before they’ve got that letter in the mail. Don’t ever let that discourage you. It took me 7 years before I’ve actually got my literary agent and it showed that hard work does pay off. When get that letter where the agent wants to sign with you, you might want to double check the Better Business Bureau to see if the agent is not only Accredited but has a good score as well just to be on the safe side because remember, you want to be comfortable with giving your agent your hard working piece. Once you’ve got your agent and you’ve signed that contract then you take it from there and good luck.

Again, this is something not done overnight so don’t expect it. I’m writing this through my own experience and how I’ve managed to snatch up a literary agent. They really help out. Now as to what I’ve done while I’ve waited, I’ve put that one up on my next article, which would probably help you out a great deal as well.

Guide to Gaining an Agent or Publisher

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