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How To Best Approach a Literary Agent?

If you are serious about having your manuscript published, one of the best ways to go about it is by getting the services of a literary agent. Although you can either elect to submit your manuscript to different publishers on your own or simply choose to self-publish your book, having a literary agent to represent you and your work does a lot to make the entire publishing process so much easier to handle.

For one, your literary agent will handle most of the complex tasks for you. A literary agent is typically knowledgeable of the publishing industry and is well-connected to a lot of editors and insiders. This gives you the extra advantage of having your work seen by many publishers.

Ultimately, however, it's your agent who will decide who to sell your manuscript to, how much it's going to be worth, what the terms are going to be for royalties, and will serve as the go-between you and the editor. This leaves you with little to worry about and much time to continue writing.

But how should one best approach a literary agent? There are different ways on how to do this. Here are a couple of them:

Obviously, you need to have your manuscript ready. Your relationship with a literary agent begins only once he or she has read a part of your manuscript. With nothing to read or hold on to, then what's the point of contacting an agent?

Take time to attend writers' gatherings, conferences, seminars, book fairs, or other literary events where writers and agents are present. This is the perfect time to expand your network, get to know people who can help you down the line, and get acquainted with the faces in the industry.

Do your research. Most literary agents have their contact information ready in writers' directories or even online. It is not hard at all to get in touch with a literary agent near you. You just need to be diligent and resourceful.

Ask for referrals from family, friends, or acquaintances who have had the chance to work with a literary agent. Referrals are usually so much better. The fact that a writer went out of his or her way to recommend a literary agent means the latter must be really good.

And lastly, one can go the most usual route, which is to write a query letter. Addressed to the literary agent of your choice, a query letter is something you write to request to be represented by this same agent. Among other details, it contains a brief synopsis of your written work, as well as some basic information about you and your career as a writer. It also comes attached with an excerpt from your manuscript.

If the literary agent found your query letter and sample content convincing enough, he or she will request for a copy of the full manuscript. The agent then guides you on how to proceed, which may or may not involve revisions to your manuscript.