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How to find a literary agent

You've finished your manuscript, and you've edited it as much as you can: what's next? Well, if you're looking to get published, the next step for you is to find a literary agent. In this section, you'll find a selection of tips and hints to use on your quest for representation.

10 Steps To Getting A Literary Agent

Gilly McAllister

Last time, we covered 10 Steps to Writing a Novel. This time, it's 10 Steps to getting a literary agent, though I have to warn you, the most important steps are the novel-writing ones.

1. Finish the book

You will annoy everybody you query if your novel isn’t finished. You want to be in the position …

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4 Tips for Choosing the Right Comparative Titles

The West Wing meets The Princess Diaries--

Cinderella in space--

28 Days Later meets All the President’s Men

Choosing your comp titles (“comparative” or “competing” titles, depending on who you ask) is a fun and vital part of selling your book. When pitching your project to a prospective …

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Advice for first-time writers

For the first-time writer, getting published can feel rather like Alice in wonderland after she’s been knocking back the re-sizing potion. You stand in front of a door marked ‘Success and Validation’ and feel too insignificant to reach for the handle. Either that or perhaps you feel that …

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Author/Agent Discussion: Gilly McAllister and Clare Wallace

Gilly McAllister

Following on from Gilly's excellent article offering 10 Steps To Getting A Literary Agent, she was also kind enough to record a fascinating discussion with her own agent, Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson Agency. 

1. What is the ideal client/author like? Particularly in the early days? 

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Author/Agent Discussion: Kate Ormand and Isabel Atherton

Kate Ormand is a published author of YA novels and picture books, including The Wanderers series and Tough Cookie with Sky Pony Press. Kate found her agent Isabel Atherton, director and literary agent at Creative Authors Ltd, through the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook in 2012. It seemed only …

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Beware Vanity Publishing

Have you seen an advert for a publishing company that is looking for authors?  Probably in the newspaper.  And have you sent your work off, only to get a glowing letter in response, with an offer of publication?

The only slight hiccup is that they are asking for money to help fund …

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Choose Your Agent Wisely

If you are lucky enough to get attention from several agents, and are required to make a choice, the time-honoured way of getting to know each other sufficiently well to take the relationship further is for them to take you out for a drink, or even a meal.

At this stage the power rests with …

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Choosing the Right Agent

In this extract from the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, literary agent Gill McLay identifies some of the ways you can discover which agent might be the right one for you to approach and to sign up with if you are offered representation...

One thing that everyone needs is an agent who …

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Colum McCann On How To Get An Agent

One of modern literature's most acclaimed authors, Colum McCann, on how to get an agent, an excerpt taken from Letters To A Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice.

If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked how to get an agent, I wouldn't have to have an agent. Do you need an …

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Dizzying Highs: How I Got An Agent

When I started writing my first novel I was clueless about the publishing world. I simply wanted to tell the story that’d been fizzing inside me for a while. Even on starting a course at Faber Academy I didn't really consider the prospect of actual publication. It all felt like pie in the sky.

So …

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Do you have any useful connections?

If your next-door neighbour is Editorial Director of Random House, then arguably you have a head start (although you might decide it is too embarrassing to ask them for help!). But consider carefully whether you know someone who works within the industry, and if you could approach them.

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Five Ways to Find a Literary Agent

You’ve written your manuscript. It’s as good as it’s going to be. It’s time to get it out into the real world – and you need an agent.

Many mainstream publishers no longer read work that isn’t represented, which is where the literary agent comes in. Find yourself a good agent and …

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Getting Published

The burning question on every would-be author’s lips is: ‘How do I get published?’

Simply by visiting this website and buying the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, you’re making the all-important first step.

Many successful authors started with the Yearbook. J.K. Rowling tells …

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Getting Published: What To Do If You Can't Get An Agent

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Five and a half years ago, I had an idea for a story. It was so out-of-the-blue and exciting to me that I just started writing it down, and before I knew it, it had become long enough to turn into a novel.  Part of what had precipitated this was attending a local creative writing class on a …

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How important is genre?

Do  you need to know what you're writing before you start?  Or can you wait till it's time to send it out?  And do you want to write to a strict genre anyway or are you more of a mould-breaker?

From the point of view of a publishing house and a bookseller, the clearer you can …

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How Long Should My Novel Be?

Danielle Zigner

'How long should my novel be?' is a question an awful lot of writers ask. Literary agent Danielle Zigner takes a look at typical novel lengths per genre and what appeals to publishers within the current marketplace...

Within the publishing industry we tend to talk about the length of a book in …

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How to Get Your Foot in the Literary Agent’s Door

There is a great myth that agents and editors spend our days sitting quietly in our rooms, reading the voluminous numbers of query letters, proposals and manuscripts we receive daily. In this fairy tale, the phone never rings, bills never need paying and authors never need hand-holding. Nothing …

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Interview with a Literary Agent: Josephine Hayes

Josephine Hayes, literary agent at The Blair Partnership, answers questions about the agenting world, and what she's looking for in writers...

How did you become a literary agent?

During university holidays I undertook some work experience with a neighbour who was a literary agent. It was fun, …

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Interview with Catherine Clarke

Catherine Clarke joined Felicity Bryan as an agent in 2001 having been Publishing Director of the trade books department at OUP for several years. She represents a broad range of writers of serious non-fiction, including biography, memoir, philosophy, and history, as well as literary …

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Reading fees - a money spinner?

I’ve had a few queries recently from writers who’ve been asked by literary agents for a ‘reading fee’. Their main concern is whether or not these fees are legitimate.

Like everyone in business, literary agents need to make money. They make theirs by taking a commission from the sale …

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Should you send off a partly finished manuscript?

If a house asks for three chapters and a synopsis, is that all you need to have completed? For a non-fiction proposal, this can be enough: they require an outline of your project and its market, a sample of your writing, and some information on you.

For a fiction submission it’s far …

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Something Nasty in the Slush Pile

Something nasty in the slush pile

A headline in an August 2014 article in The Week predicted ‘End times for authors’, as it highlighted the challenges faced by writers in the publishing revolution accelerated by the digital age. 

Yet, whether paperback or hardback, ebook or audio, one look in any bookshop or on Amazon …

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Submitting to Literary Agents: Clare Wallace

Clare Wallace

In this interview, Clare Wallace, literary agent at the Darley Anderson Agency, discusses the role of an agent and what she looks for in her submissions.

Clare joined the Darley Anderson Agency in January 2011. Clare is scouting for new talent and is looking for commercial and accessible literary …

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Submitting to Literary Agents: Danielle Zigner

In this interview, Danielle Zigner, literary agent at LBA Books, discusses the role of an agent and what she looks for in her submissions.

After reading Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University Danielle spent a year working with a number of publishers and agencies. In 2014 she joined the team at …

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Submitting to Literary Agents: Gill McLay

Gill McLay, of Bath Literary Agency, discusses how she became a literary agent and shares her top tips for authors submitting their work...

How did you become a literary agent?

I think I was last person to work out that I would become an agent. Even when I called publishers to tell them my decision, …

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Submitting to Literary Agents: Juliet Pickering

Juliet Pickering

In this interview, Juliet Pickering, literary agent at Blake Friedmann, discusses the role of an agent and what she looks for in her submissions.

Juliet Pickering is an agent at the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency. She studied English Literature at university before working for Waterstones as a …

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Submitting To Literary Agents: Louise Buckley

Literary agent Louise Buckley, from Zeno Agency, answers a few questions about the submission process and the advantages of writers working with agents.

What does your role involve; what’s an average day like for you?

Briefly, my role involves selling to publishers, working with authors and acting …

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Submitting to Literary Agents: Lucy Luck

Writing advice

In this interview, Lucy Luck, literary agent and founder of Lucy Luck Associates, discusses the role of an agent and what she looks for in her submissions. 

'I set up Lucy Luck Associates in 2006 after 8 years at Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd, and in 2008 I joined with Aitken …

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The Benefits of NOT Winning a Writing Competition (or How I Got an Agent)

Kate Wiseman

OK. You’ve written your book. You’ve revised it and triple-checked it. Your prose is fluent. Your plot is fast-paced. Your characters develop as naturally as mayflies. Your themes couldn’t BE any more interesting. Or relevant.  

It’s ready. You’re ready. Ready to send your first three …

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Top Tips for Finding an Agent

In the attempt to help you find an agent, here are some top tips for securing their attention.

Do your research

Consult the list of agents in industry yearbooks; look carefully at the kind of writers each agent represents, and note their specialities.

If they say they do not take …

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We Need To Talk About Non-Fiction Submissions

Federica Leonardis

Literary agent Federica Leonardis offers essential guidance to authors working towards submitting a work of non-fiction.

What is non-fiction?

As a reader I read books to understand the world around me. That’s why I love non-fiction books. Readers read non-fiction to learn something, understand …

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What to ask a literary agent before you sign

The day has come – a literary agent has accepted you as a client and your career as a published writer is taking off.

It’s hugely exciting – and only too easy to forget that you are entering into a professional partnership where it’s worth asking a few questions of your own before …

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When should you send your manuscript?

Writers want to get published, so at some stage they will need to start sending their work to agents and publishers in the hope of acceptance. But deciding that you need an agent or publisher at some stage is one thing; deciding that now is the time to start looking, is another.

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