When looking for a book (literary) agent, be very careful about which one you choose. There are many scam artists on the Internet, who claim to be agents, with some that ask for money up front and many that do absolutely nothing for you. However, getting a reputable agent may be your key to success as far as getting your manuscript into the hands of more renowned publishers because most of them only accept manuscripts through an established agent.
But how do you do this? Well, the best way is by word of mouth. If you belong to a local writing group, which most cities have, ask around. There are also on-line groups with writers you can ask. You can also check out a few books at the library, including the Writer’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers & Literary Agents. You can also search the net for an appropriate literary agent. Another option is to visit: http://www.fwointl.com, where you will find a list of available agents.
If you are new to publishing and you know absolutely nothing about the process, getting a literary agent might be a good idea. He or she will be the one who represents you and your manuscript, so chose the right one carefully. Do your homework to find out if the agency is legitimate, competent and interested in your genre of writing. When you have found a couple of prospects, send out query letters in the same general style as you would sent out to prospective publisher.
That said there are a number of things to watch out for when seeking an agent. As noted, there are many scam artists who are more than willing to prey on new writers. Even some reputable agencies will try to rip you off, so here are some guidelines to follow:
1) If you are asked to pay ‘reading fees’ don’t pay more than $25. Some ask as much as $150 just to read your manuscript.
2) You should not pay ‘editing fees’ at all. This needs to be done either by a qualified editor or as part of your contract.
3) If you are asked to pay ‘representation fees’ up front – run the other way! The agent will try to convince you by saying he or she has to cover administration and marketing costs.
4) If worse comes to worse, demand that your manuscript be returned. The old adage: if it seems too good to be true, is especially important here.
5) Find out what other books the agent has represented. Were they successful?
Your literary agent is responsible for acquiring not only a suitable publisher, but also your advance. He or she will negotiate this for you and the only monies he or she should be given are between 10 and 20 per cent of that, which could range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Here are a few resources that you might find helpful:
1) Literary Agents Directory: http://www.ebookscrossroads.com/agents.html
2) Association of Authors’ Representatives: http://www.publishersweekly.com
3) Information For Writers: http://www.pw.org/info3.htm
4) Directory of Literary Agencies: http://www.writers.net/agents.html
5) 1999 Guide To Literary Agents: 500 Agents Who Sell What You Write by Donna Dickerson.
6) Write to: Association of Author’s Representatives, 10 Astor Place, 3rd Floor, New York, N.Y., 10003. Send $7 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope. You will receive a list of AAR members and information about them.
7) Children’s Literary Agency: http://www.childrensliteraryagency.com.
On a final note, here are the top 20 agencies to stay away from as listed on:
· Allred and Allred Literary Agents
· Arthur Fleming Associates
· Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
· Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
· B.K. Nelson, Inc.
· Brock Gannon Literary Agency
· Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.; also d/b/a Washington Agency and Washington Literary Agency)
· Desert Rose Literary Agency
· Finesse Literary Agency (also d/b/a/ Elite Finesse Literary Agency)
· Harris Literary Agency
· Mark Sullivan Associates (also d/b/a New York Editors and Manhattan Literary)
· Martin-McLean Literary Associates
· Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
· Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
· The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
· Sherwood Broome, Inc. (also d/b/a Stillwater Literary Agency, LLC)
· Southeast Literary Agency
· The Abacus Group Literary Agency
· West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)
· Writers' Literary Agency & Marketing Company (a.k.a. WL Writers' Literary Agency), formerly The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:
-Christian Literary Agency
-New York Literary Agency
-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)
-WL Children's Agency (a.k.a. Children's Literary Agency)
-WL Poet's Agency (a.k.a. Poet's Literary Agency)
-WL Screenplay Agency (a.k.a. The Screenplay Agency)
-Writers' Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)