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My last post discussed whether you might, or might not, want to seek representation from a literary agent. I’ve been getting questions about this topic so if you’re interested in getting a literary agent, this post is for you.

How the Process Works

First, yes, it can be extremely difficult to get a literary agent’s attention. It’s a numbers’ game. Agents’ in-boxes are overflowing.

Let’s consider a hypothetical. (Sorry, I’m a lawyer so I’m all about hypotheticals…) Meet Agent Jasmine, who is working hard for her existing clients. Although Jasmine is certainly interested in adding new talent to her list, she can afford to be picky. Jasmine receives hundreds of submissions called “queries” every week. She might request additional pages from a small percentage. If she’s going to offer representation, those pages must wow her.

Also, Jasmine isn’t simply reading to see if she likes the story. She’s already thinking about whether she can sell it to a publisher. That’s how she gets paid.

Tips for Success

It’s critical to follow Jasmine’s submission guidelines, likely located on her agency’s website. If she specifies five sample pages, don’t send her fifteen. If she wants the pages pasted into an email versus an attachment, then do that. Don’t make it easy for Jasmine to say “no” and move on to the next query.

Research agents before pressing send. You want an agent who represents similar books to yours. If Jasmine represents cozy mysteries, you probably want to look elsewhere if you’re querying an urban fantasy.

Keep track of the agents who represent books you’ve enjoyed. You can find their names in the acknowledgements.

Generally, you can’t re-query Jasmine multiple times on the same project. If you send queries in small batches, you can adjust your submission package before sending out another batch. If you start off sending fifty queries, you’ve limited your ability to do that.

Be careful about querying too early. Take your time. Once you’ve incorporated feedback from critique partners and polished your manuscript until it shines, it will be ready to wow Jasmine. I’m cheering you on.