Mastering the Submission Process to Get a Literary Agent
by Writing Workshops Staff
A month ago
If you are an aspiring author looking to get your work published, one of the first steps is finding a literary agent who will represent your book. Querying can be daunting and time-consuming, but there is usually no way around it if you intend to go the traditional route. Whether you're a first-time author or a seasoned veteran, approach the process with patience and perseverance.
Do Your Research
First, do your research. When you're querying, remember that you're not just sending your manuscript out into the void. You're starting a conversation with an agent or editor who has the potential to help you shape your book and get it into the hands of readers. So, start by looking at the websites of literary agencies that represent the type of book you have written. Make a list of potential agents and read their submission guidelines carefully. Each agency may have different requirements, so follow them to the letter.
Write Your Letter
Once you have identified a few agents you would like to submit to, it's time to craft a compelling query letter. This is a one-page letter introducing you and your book and briefly overviewing the story. Make sure to include a brief synopsis of your book and any relevant experience or publishing credits you have. Keep the letter short, sweet, and to the point.
Query Letter Template
Dear [Agent Name],
I am writing to introduce myself and my book, [Book Title]. [Book Title] is a [genre] novel that follows the story of [main character] as they navigate [plot summary].
I am a [author experience/credentials]. [Book Title] is my debut novel, and I am eager to share it with a wider audience.
I am confident that [Book Title] would be an excellent fit for your agency and would love to discuss it further. I have included a synopsis of the book below and the first ten pages of the manuscript.
Thank you for considering my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.
[Synopsis of book]
[First ten pages of manuscript]
Time to Submit
Once your query letter is ready, it's time to submit it to the agents on your list. Many agents now accept email submissions, but some may still require snail mail. Be sure to follow the submission guidelines carefully, and feel free to follow up if you have yet to hear back after a few weeks.
If you are lucky enough to receive a request for more material from an agent, send your submission promptly and professionally. This may include a full manuscript, sample chapters, or a synopsis. Be prepared to revise and refine your work based on feedback from the agent.
The key to mastering the submission process is to be persistent and professional. Don't be discouraged if you receive rejections – every author goes through this. Keep working on your craft, and be open to feedback and critique. With persistence and determination, you will eventually find the right agent to represent your work.
And don't be afraid to follow up, but do so politely and only after a reasonable amount of time has passed.
When to Query
It is generally recommended to query literary agents during their submission periods. These periods can vary by the agency but are typically open throughout the year. Refrain from querying during holidays or busy times of the year, as agents may be less likely to review submissions during these periods. Additionally, it is a good idea to check the individual submission guidelines of the agents you are querying, as they may have specific times of the year when they are open to receiving submissions.
Some of the Top Literary Agencies in New York:
- Trident Media Group
- The Wylie Agency
- Janklow & Nesbit Associates
- The Gernert Company
- Inkwell Management
- ICM Partners
- The Susan Rabiner Literary Agency
- Curtis Brown, Ltd.
- The Book Group
- Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
- Folio Literary Management
- The Friedrich Agency
- Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency
- The James Fitzgerald Agency
- Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents
- Liza Dawson Associates
- The Maria Carvainis Agency
- The Bent Agency
- The Shannon Associates Literary Agency
- The Frances Goldin Literary Agency
Query Letter Resources
Here are a few resources for aspiring authors who want to query literary agents:
- The Writer's Digest Guide to Literary Agents: This comprehensive guide includes information on finding the right agent for your work, writing a query letter, and what to expect during the querying process.
- QueryTracker: This website offers a database of literary agents, tools, and advice for crafting the perfect query letter.
- The Writer's Market: This annual publication includes a directory of literary agents, helpful articles on the querying process and other aspects of the publishing industry.
- The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook: This annual guide includes a directory of literary agents, advice on how to write a successful query letter, and tips on navigating the publishing industry.
- The Literary Agents Blog: This blog, run by literary agents, offers helpful advice on the querying process, as well as information on what agents are looking for in a query letter and other aspects of the publishing industry.
Querying is a skill that can be learned and improved upon. Take the time to research agents and editors, tailor your query letter to each individual, and be patient and persistent. The more effort you put into the process, the more likely you are to find success.