By Alexandria Brown
Well, you’ve done it! You’ve either started writing or just finished writing your novel and you’re looking for its home in a literary agent’s or publisher’s arms. But, before you start sending queries to every lit agent or publisher in existence, there are a few things you need to know!
One: Complete Your Manuscript
There are times when authors get so excited about their fiction concept that they start querying before it’s finished. Agents and publishers are 99% sure to reject a manuscript if it’s not fully complete. The only genre that is allowed to propose a concept versus an actual book is nonfiction. Even then, the writer has to have a fully thought-out proposal so the agent/publisher can see the potential and how the book will develop.
Finishing your manuscript is the best way to ensure success!
Two: Edit! Edit! Edit!
After finishing your manuscript, you should patiently edit it until you’re completely happy with the results. Then you should ask friends or family members to provide feedback. Another great resource is beta readers! Find other authors who are also looking for help with editing their manuscript and trade services.
Hiring a developmental editor is always a great idea as well.
Three: Craft an Intriguing Query Letter
Writing a query letter is often the bane of an author’s existence but they’re important! This is the first introduction of your book to the literary world, and you want to represent it well. Researching what makes a great query letter is a great way to start. Many literary agents and indie publishers show examples of query letters from the authors they’ve signed and why they were attracted to that particular book.
A lot of literary agents and editors offer query letter and synopsis evaluations to help you attract the right person for your book!
Four: Research Literary Agents / Publishers
There are so many literary agents and publishers that you need to find the right one for you. That means researching the agents/publishers’ manuscript wish list and ensuring that your book fits into that category.
Most literary agents and publishers have different requirements for their queries, so reading how they prefer their submissions is incredibly important. If you don’t follow their requests completely, you could find that your submission is turned away before it’s even read!
Five: Know your worth!
Do not sign with the first agent or publisher that offers you a deal if it’s not the one you’re looking for. While it’s important to have realistic expectations as a new author, it’s equally as important to not sign with someone for the sake of it. You should ensure that you’re trusting your manuscript to the person who will advocate for you and your book. You deserve someone who’s going to take the time, care, and effort with your manuscript that you did when writing it.
If at first you don’t find the right representation, don’t quit! This industry is subjective and you’ll know in your gut when you’ve found the right home for your novel.
Alexandria Brown has ten years of experience in marketing and creative writing. Alex has a Bachelor’s in Communications with a major in Public Relations, a Master of Fine Arts – Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, and is a Creative Writing Ph.D. Candidate currently at the University of Gloucestershire. She has two traditionally published nonfiction books. She’s a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Alex’s primary role is acquisitions and marketing as well as working with sub-agents on subsidiary rights.