Contacting Book Agents

Written by Joy MacKay
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Contacting book agents can be a daunting process. Each writer experiences fear of rejection, and feels initially unsure of how to approach them. However, so long as you comply with requested guidelines, and demonstrate your singularity, you will eventually find the book agent who is a perfect match for you. Here are some basic rules to follow when contacting book agents for the first time.

Dare to Be Different

While you certainly don't want to seem conceited or full of gimmicks, you shouldn't be fearful of letting your most unique attributes come through. Before contacting book agents, ask yourself what makes your writing unique. Are you writing from a foreign perspective, or as someone who has a unique viewpoint or experience? Do you have an eclectic writing style that sets you apart from the pack?

One of the primary mistakes that new writers make when obtaining literary representation is to chameleon their work. While understandable, the temptation to blend in, or alter your writing style to conform, should be shunned. The best literary agent for you is the one who will embrace your uniqueness, and view your singularity as a strong marketing point. When contacting book agents, give them the most accurate picture you can of your writing. Then set out to find an agent who will embrace your style and story, and market it to the best of his or her ability.

Contacting Book Agents by Electronic Mail

In this high-technology era, electronic submissions have become an increasingly popular method of contacting book agents. In fact, some book agents will not open submissions sent through postal mail. The sheer volume of submissions and inquiries that book agents receive leads many agents to streamline their submissions process with electronic mail.

The first step in making an electronic submission is to read the guidelines your prospective book agent has laid out for you. You want to ensure that your methods of contacting book agents fall in line with their preferred communication methods. Make sure that your cover letter not only adequately describes your writing style and goals, but that it demonstrates your expertise with language.

Furthermore, be sure that your submissions are in the format the targeted book agent desires. If they specify a strict rule for text-only submissions, avoid sending attachments or Word documents. Furthermore, if they ask for only a sample of your manuscript and a synopsis, do not send them your manuscript in its entirety. Make sure that your work is formatted according to industry standards, and not simply haphazardly entered into your computer screen.

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