Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Mark Victor Hanson, and Jack Canfield are successful authors who self-published their first books before acquiring literary agents and traditional publishing deals. When your self-published book sells in excess of 10,000 or 20,000 copies, literary agents may be calling you with offers for representation.
If you’ve reached that sales mark and haven’t received a call yet and your goal is to transition into a traditional publishing deal, then it’s time to take action, find a literary agent that’s the right fit for you and your book, and start pitching. Your key selling point: Your sales figures, which indicate there is a strong market for your book.
(If you’ve sold less than 10,000 copies of your self-published book and are pitching an agent, industry insiders advise against revealing that you’ve already self-published because low sales figures imply the book has low sales potential.)
So how do you go about finding agents to pitch? Here are five ways to get started:
How to Find Agents
There are many avenues available to find a literary agent. Most authors utilize several resources to locate potential agents.
Referrals are the best avenue for finding and contacting an agent. Agents respect and value referrals from an editor, author-client, bookseller, writing expert, or another agent. Ask your associates, friends and network if they can refer you to an agent.
2. Conferences and literary events
Conferences, seminars, retreats, book festivals, and workshops provide an opportunity to meet an agent in person. Agents expect writers to approach them at these events. Some conferences even schedule sessions for authors to pitch to agents. The goal is to connect with agents and leave them with a positive impression of you and your work for when you submit your pitch package in the future. Some agents may even ask you to send them your book proposal or manuscript.
Each year, several literary agent directories are published. Each guide provides detailed information on individual agents, which include the literary agency where the agent works, his contact information, the types of writing he represents, and his submission guidelines. Additional information may also be included such as recent sales, number of annual sales, professional memberships, and total years in business. Three popular directories are:
• Guide to Literary Agents
• Literary Market Place
• Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents
4. The Internet
The array and magnitude of information available via the Internet makes it easier than ever to find literary agents for your book. Forums, blogs, online magazines and directories, and search engines offer an abundance of resources.
• Publisher’s Lunch
• Publisher’s Marketplace
• Publishers Weekly
• Writer’s Market
• Guide to Literary Agents Blog
• Agent Query
• Agent Research
5. Agent’s Blogs
Agents have their own blogs where they write posts about the publishing industry, their expectations, what they are looking for, their clients’ book releases, recent sales, and how to submit a pitch. You can use the Google Blog Search function to find a listing of literary agent blogs:
Popular agent blogs include:
• Nathan Bransford
• Rachelle Gardner
• Kristin Nelson
• Janet Reid
• Jessica Faust
Laura Cross is an author, ghostwriter, freelance book editor, and writing coach specializing in nonfiction books. She authors the popular blog Nonfiction Ink and teaches an online ghostwriting course. Her latest book is The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published.