How to Get an Agent
In a recent article title Do I Need an Agent? I discussed how essential agents are in this day and age and gave some tips on how to get an agent.
If you have been struggling to find an agent, then you probably didn’t want to hear any of that. I know, because I went through the same process myself. If your book is good enough and your agent is good enough, then the good news is that this will be the biggest step you have to take. It took me some time to find an agent that I liked, but with that agent we sold my books to the very first publisher that we approached.
Of course, most of you already know that agents are essential, which is why their inboxes are flooded every day. A lot of the advice I uncovered when I was trying to find an agent was written by people who had been agented and traditionally published for years, if not decades. Things have moved on a lot since then, and it’s not what it used to be. With that in mind, checkout this article on How to Get An Agent for some tips that you won’t find in traditional publications or on standard guides.
Don’t Rely on the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook
When aspiring writers as me how to get an agent, I ask them where they are looking. Time and time again they are told to limit themselves to the the Writer’s and Artist’s yearbook. This is where the biggest agents are after all. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Those agents get a lot of submissions and are very dismissive when it comes to new queries.
If you have an absolutely perfect query letter or proposal, then you might get noticed. And if your book is equally solid, then you might be offered a contract. But for the vast majority. that’s not how it works.
I personally didn’t understand how to write a decent proposal until I actually had an agent, as it was my agent who helped me to write it. And this is coming from a freelance writer who has written everything there is to write. We have included some tips on writing a good query letter that might help, but if you find that you’re struggling to get the attention of any agents, then just venture away from the yearbook.
There are hundreds of other agents out there that have the experience, the credentials and the ability, and are just not included in this book. You should always check-up on their experience, but there are many great agents out there. Just make sure they tick all of the following boxes:
They don’t charge you a fee (at any point in time)
They don’t expect you to do all of the work (they should help you with proposals and more)
They have some experience with a publishing house or a major agency (my own agent has been in the industry for longer than I have been alive).
They are able to suggest a contact within a publishing house who can help.
Go Your Own Way
If you really want to know how to get an agent, just get out there, sell copies and then wait for them to come to you.
Most agents I contacted didn’t give me a chance. Many said my book was too niche, even though that same book would go on to become a bestseller when i self-published. They are dismissive because they can afford to be, but you can’t. So if the rejections keep coming, self-publish, put your efforts into marketing instead of sending queries, and if you make it there, then you’ll be able to secure a deal with an agent and traditional publisher.
Of course, you’ll need to actually sell copies, as they don’t care if you’re only a bestseller in a niche category and they’ll not be impressed if you sold a few hundred copies. But if you make it, then announce that you’re seeking representation on your social media profiles and wait for the agents to knock on your door.
I have written several articles on self-publishing, and you can use those to get started and to—hopefully-sell some copies. I was very lucky as I managed to achieve success with two pen names and sold hundreds of thousand of copies. It was the perfect time to use that platform and Amazon has changed a lot since them, but it’s still possible. You just have to adapt and tweak your approach.
To get even more help, checkout the extensive self-publishing course I wrote, available at the UK Writers’ College.
Get Some Fame
Agents and publishers love people who have a large social media following. I have seen agents actively trying to strike deals with people purely based on their Twitter following. And I’m talking about respected, famous agents here. If you can’t get them to notice you, then pile your efforts into social media and that will force them to notice you.
I was once contracted by a marketing company to write a book for some “social media celebrities”. These guys were not writers, musicians, actors or even vloggers. They were famous for being famous, with millions of followers who were happy to dote on them because of that fame. The only thing they did to get this was to create social media profiles and begin posting, and yet within a year they were able to make a fortune, to get book deals, movie deals and more.
They had everything they wanted and had countless agents, publishers and more begging them for deals. Hell, they were able to pay a ghostwriter to write a book and a marketing team to sell it, and I’m still fairly sure that they were in a massive profit long before the book even hit the shelves.
Fame is a strange beast in this day and age, and you don’t need to have millions of followers to benefit from it.