Guide To Literary Agents

Written by Joy MacKay
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The process of becoming an effective writer is a lifelong one, and honing your craft is an ongoing process. Developing your career as a published writer can be equally arduous. Finding the best literary agent is paramount, and obtaining literary representation can feel overwhelming. Here is a general guide to literary agents, and what to look for as you seek representation:

General Guide to Literary Agents and Agencies:

Make certain the agents you approach are listed with the Writers Guild of America. Avoid literary agents who have a "reading fee," or submission cost. Beware of literary agents and agencies who offer instant success, or guarantee a writing deal before they appraise your work. Be patient. Writing is not a craft that can be perfected overnight, and marketing your writing is a process that takes time. Be honest with your literary agent about your needs and goals. Remember that they are your advocates, and are there to aid you in whatever ways they can.

Before You Submit to Literary Agencies:

Finish your work. Don't assume that a "good idea" is all you need. Take time to polish your manuscript, and edit it into a marketable state before you submit.
Research the literary agents you approach with your work. Understand their current markets, and target your proposals to fit their needs. Make sure you clearly understand the agency's submission guidelines. Take time and care to present them with a clear, engaging synopsis and cover letter, to make an indelible first impression.

Resources for Finding Literary Agencies:

The WGA lists a guide to literary agents who are registered with their organization. You can purchase a guide to literary agents at your local bookstore or specialty store. Search for WGA-certified agencies online. Many top-notch agencies now have websites and electronic submission guides.

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