Looking for a Literary Agent…

Empty StageSometimes being a writer can feel like being a designer at a fashion show. (Well, that is what I imagine, I’ve never been a designer. Some would laugh at that idea. I’m slightly colorblind which wouldn’t help, that is for certain.)

You spend so much time preparing your “look” and then suddenly the model needs to take the walk in front of the crowds. And you wait, terrified, seeing what reactions you get.  Are there gasps or moans?  It’s all stressful, with highs and lows, but we all have to do it. It’s part of the gig.

In the next few months I’m going to start to query different literary agencies about my new novel Permanent Spring Showers. Yup, I’m pushing my new book onto the catwalk and I will stand backstage with my fingers crossed not daring to look.

Preparing my query letter, synopsis and excerpt has gotten me thinking of my experiences and also some of my writing posts about literary agencies. Below, after the jump, are links to some of those posts as well as new helpful insights on them. Some of these writing articles are the most popular things I have ever done on this site.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with literary agencies on other books and I hope that Permanent Spring Showers gets the same chance. I’m really proud of it. Permanent Spring Showers revolves around an artist named Vince who is about to create some of the most important and groundbreaking contemporary art.  Inspired by an affair, his creations will affect all around him in this multi-cast tale about relationships, academics, art, authors, and lies. You can learn more about the book on this page and read the first chapter exclusively here.

Now about those agency articles…

What I Learned From Having a Literary Agent– When I say popular writing articles on this site, they don’t get bigger than this one for me. Every time I share this article it gets a reaction. Basically, I made a mistake the last time I had an agent by not helping to push my career. I disappeared into my writing. The fact is a writer needs to do what he/she can to help build the argument for their possible success. It’s why I have this blog (with over 920 subscribers), a presence on Twitter (now with over 28,000 followers!), a Facebook page (350 followers), and a Good Reads account (with almost 3000 friends). Those are all possible readers of my book; in the least, people who know my name and have read something on my site (like this post!). I’m not going to be starting from square one and an agent and publisher will be grateful. Learn from my mistakes!

Finding That Right Literary Agent: Five Things to Consider– A literary agency is a business. And like any businesses there are good choices and bad choices out there. Over my time as a writer and editor, I’ve read a lot on agencies and these are five things that I recommend an author consider before deciding to query or sign with any agency.

Snoopy Attempting The DreamTackling The Problem of the Agent Query Letter– It’s all about drawing the eyes to the letter and keeping them there. It’s a trick. When I was studying at the University of Southern California (I ended up getting my master’s in writing there), we had classes on pitching a story and query letters came up. These are some of the things I like to consider when creating a letter.

The Importance of Delusions: The Four That All Writers Need– This isn’t specifically about agents, but I think this message is important to writers, especially when they are putting themselves out there. You need to believe your book is important! You need to have confidence in your work and your ability.

I hope these posts help you with your own books.

For me, I wait backstage, adding a few touches to my creation. I’m a little nervous, but very hopeful. I am proud of the book and it has some really fun twists in it (like I said, you can learn about this new book with the links above as well as read that first chapter. If an agent wishes to contact me to read more, they can do so via this e-mail address: AJAD.Southard@gmail.com.)

Thanks for reading and good luck!

A Jane Austen DaydreamIf you liked reading this post, why not check out one of my books? I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen DaydreamMaximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous DareMy Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor

12 thoughts on “Looking for a Literary Agent…

  1. My favorite part about this post is that you compared the process to a fashion show because it’s such a unique metaphor. Once you described it though, it all made sense! It really is like a fashion show and I was picturing the process in my head with my own pieces even as I share them with friends and peer consultants while I’m in the process of polishing it before I tun it in. I’m always nervous how people are going to react to my piece, especially if it’s someone who normally doesn’t look at my work. Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed it!

    • Thanks. I’m glad you liked it. I know nothing about fashion shows, so I was kind of “winging” it when it comes to the metaphor. I assume sooner or later a designer will appear in the comments screaming “No! No! No!”

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  3. Thank you for making this post! I am currently looking into publishing and I literally just started my own blog a few days ago to hopefully gain some recognition. It’s just good to know that people go through exactly what I am going through. In the literary world, where it seems that there is only rejection after rejection after utter rejection, I am glad that at least we writers, successful and aspiring alike, can stick together.

    I am guessing, though, it does get a bit easier after you hook the first gig. I hope so, at least.

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  5. “You need to believe your book is important!”

    As a writer getting started in the professional realm, this hits the nail on the head. In every advice piece I’ve read, Believing that your writing is the BEST EVER (given, after quality revision) is important, especially when you face the inevitable rejection. I read that considering the rejection as “THEIR loss” is much more beneficial for oneself than jumping in a premature writing grave.

    • Also, it is best to remember that an agency is a business. They are looking for material that they can sell. So it can be difficult, especially if you want to do something beyond superheroes, vampires and teenagers.

      My big advice to all authors is give your book a try with agencies. Do queries for at least 6 months. At least give your book this shot before you go to the smaller presses (indie) or self-publishing.

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  7. What resonates most with me about this post is that if someone yearns to become a published author, one must overcome the fear of putting themselves out there little-by-little. It’s rare that someone can write one book (ever), and then have it become a masterpiece. I wish more well-known authors today would come forward with the arduous process of becoming published. For the longest time I believed I would create “that one masterpiece” and then become famous. Reality likes to slap hard. 🙂 I’m aiming to submit works to contests and my college’s publication this year. Little-by-little I hope to gain recognition.

    • Well, one thing I ALWAYS recommend to a writer is to write for yourself first. It’s not easy always to keep that mindset, but if you can do that, you will have an easier time dealing with other people’s opinions (or lack of).

      Contests and small publications are a great way to go! It builds up your resume and will help an agent notice you! Also, do some googling, there are a lot of literary supplements online that publish work (many are starving for it). That will give you an opportunity to link to other work in queries or in bios.

      Finally, consider starting a website and maybe a blog. It is a great way for people to get to know your writing and voice (Like you finding my article). A good blog article could lead to a book sale or more visits in the future. It’s all about building a readership. My blog gives me “digits” I can use in a query- visits, followers, etc.

      Cheers and good luck!

  8. This post was very helpful for me. For years, I have been afraid of my own writing. I am originally a poet, but I would like to branch out into books. I’m a geographer so I like to write about real events or experiences. It’s so hard to remember to write for yourself. And blogging…is a little too social for me actually. I absolutely hate facebook. But I know you’re right, we have to network for our writing. I guess I just don’t believe in my work just yet. But you have given me some things to think about. I will continue to consider what you’ve said.

    • There are a lot of possibilities if you want your poetry out there, I just can’t guarantee that there is any money. There are numerous websites and online publications that would love for more poetry (actually, many are starving for material). And there are numerous contests a year (which is also a great way to build up your resume).

      I know how you feel about Facebook (Dave Eggers new book The Circle would make you feel more nervous about it), but being online has done more for my writing than anything else I have attempted.

      It does take a lot of courage to put yourself out there, but it is also liberating. I have a post with some suggestions around it that you should check out. It is called “The Art of the Blog.”


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