Now that you have everything you need to know to properly find and address a literary agent, it’s time to buckle down on some things to look out for and facts to know in order to have a great experience with your literary agent.
1. The Truth about Fees and Finances – Fees should never be charged before your book is sold. If the agent is trying to get you to sign a contract that forces you to hand over money before anything is done, it’s most likely a scam. There is no such thing as a reader’s fee for a literary agent. Find another agent. Finances will be provided for that agent, but only after the book is sold. Instead of fees, you should have somewhere in writing how much of a cut the agent gets from your book after it’s sold. Make sure to ask if there isn’t anything in writing.
2. Read Your Contract Before Your Sign It – A contract is binding, and very important. Many people nowadays don’t hold to contracts like they used to. But, it is a very good set-up for a lawsuit, or a beneficial safety feature for you. Make sure you read through the contract carefully, so that you know exactly what the agent is going to do with your book. Talk to your agent about the contract if something seems odd to you.
3. An Agent That Lives Out-of-State is Common - Most of them are where the competition and major publishers are located. Some of them won’t live in the same state as you because it’s easier to sell something when you can meet face-to-face with your target audience (in this case, the Publishing Houses). Don’t take it too seriously if you live in Texas and get an agent that lives in New York. But make sure you can easily reach them by phone and email if possible.
4. Is Having Multiple Agents a Good Idea? – Having multiple agents will possibly hurt your book’s success rather than help. That opens the door to publishing houses getting multiple copies of your book, and all of them turning it down. You would play agents against each other, and they would feel leery for working with you again. Part of your job is to help your literary agent sell your book, not harm their efforts by going behind their backs. Plus, you signed a contract! It’s like an American spouse – hopefully you just have one for life (in this case, the life of your book), but if you do have to pull the plug, you only have one at a time.
5. Don’t Take Anything Personally - One major key to succeeding in this portion of the process is to not take anything personally. I know that your book is your baby, but even babies need doctors to grow. If an agent suggests a change to your manuscript to better engage readers or help the success of your book in the publishing houses, don’t ride it off without at least considering. Maybe you can work out a compromised agreement with them.
6. Communicate! - Even though your agent may get some of the proceeds to your book, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help them and discuss matters of your book with them. In fact, that’s one of the worst things you can do. It’s like hiring a contractor, but not talking to him or her throughout the process and just expecting they are doing their job. Then you get into the home and realize the house isn’t finished, but you already signed off on it. Converse with the literary agent, help him or her out – you’re both in this to gain something. Look at him or her more as a business partner than someone you’ve “hired” to do the work and set them loose.
7. Letting An Agent Go - None of us want to let anyone go, but as hard as that is to do, sometimes it’s necessary. If the agent isn’t pursuing the same pathway you are wanting to pursue for your book, you will just be spinning your wheels. It’s important to make sure the agent knows what you clearly want to see happen to your book. Many writers dismiss their agents because of how long it takes to get their book published. However, it takes time to get publishers interested. Give them a little time before considering taking your novel to another agent. Look over you contract you signed, and if they aren’t meeting those standards, let them know. Give them a second chance, but don’t be afraid to cut the cord if the relationship just isn’t working.
8. An Agent Isn’t Necessary, but Beneficial - An agent is not necessary to publish a work, but the work has a higher chance of being published if assisted by one. They know shortcuts and standards that you may not notice. They already have a system that works to help your story gain the most success
Remember, a literary agent is just like a sales representative when publishing an ad in a magazine. You may contact them, but once they become intrigued by your story idea, they are supposed to work with you, not drown you with financial obligations. They work for you as much as you work for them. But, if your first agent doesn’t work out or you just aren’t getting a nibble for a year or so, don’t give up! Re-look at your novel and see if there is anything that can be improved further after taking a break. Keep pressing forward, and your hard work will eventually pay off. Now, you are ready to begin the journey toward getting your book published!
FROM THE WRITER
This is a blog site where tips, information and other help is given to fellow writers in need of a brush up, a tip or a source. Comment, share or just enjoy!