If you are an author, one of the most difficult tasks that you will every have to tackle is that of securing a literary agent. It is a given that you will run into a catch 22 when you search for an agent. Many agents will not consider representing a writer unless they have a proven track record of publication and sales, but at the same time, most publishers will not look at your work unless you have an agent. This can make life miserable for a new author.
There really is no easy way to solve this problem, and right from the beginning it is best if you understand that securing an agent for representation could be a rough road, and take a lot of time. Here are a few tips that may help smooth the road for you just a little.
If you have friends, or are acquainted with a fellow author who already has an agent, ask them if they will give you a referral to their agent. This is probably the easiest way to get an agent to look at your work. Unfortunately, if you are like many up and coming authors, you probably are not well acquainted with many big star authors who can help you take that short cut.
If this is the case, probably the next best thing you could do is network. Join writing organizations, and attend as many workshops and conferences that you can. This will not only help you with the mechanics of your craft, but will also put you in the hub of the profession. Writer’s conferences often have editors and agents speak at workshops and their advice really is very valuable. The other people who attend the conference will also be able to offer you some great pointers for honing your craft, getting published and finding an agent.
Another step you could take if you are in the market for an agent is to look in the publication, “Writer’s Market.” This book lists not only nearly every publisher in the country, but there is a section for Literary Agents as well. It is good practice to ensure that any agent you contact is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.
The sad reality is that there are many predators out there who will prey on the vulnerability of new writers who are not familiar with how the game is played. The best way to protect yourself from these scavengers is to know the process. Never pay for the services of an agent in advance. They make their money by selling your work and the only legitimate costs that you should incur before the sale of a work is possibly the cost of copying service, postage and phone calls.
If an agent says that they charge a reading fee, or that they want you to pay for editing service to make your work more marketable, go someplace else. There is no problem for an agent to offer editing advice, but many have a scam where they charge a large fee to edit the piece, or send if off to an associate to edit. Often a writer will pay an enormous amount of money and still their work will never see the light of day.
The best thing you can do for yourself if you are in search of a Literary Agent is to write, write and write some more and just keep sending your work out to agents and publishers. If you are talented, sooner or later you will strike gold.