I Think I Need An Agent

By: Scott Lindsay

Your initial manuscript is complete. Maybe it's even been shelved for a period of time. You may have sent the manuscript to a publisher, but it never really went anywhere. You really believe in the book, but are tired of hitting the roadblock that reads, "No unsolicited manuscripts".

Maybe what you need is a literary agent; one who believes in you and your work and will represent that belief to appropriate publishers. You conduct an online search and find several agents and agencies available, but you have no idea what to do next.

It is true that many authors who utilize the services of a literary agent may still have little publishing success, but by utilizing an agent you may be able to find a few more doors open.

There is a cautionary tale in all of this. You see, there are many 'agents' who will ask for a fee (sometimes called a readers fee) to review your manuscript. If an agent asks for any fees up front they are not likely to be members of the Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR). This organization provides rules of conduct and ethics for literary agents.

One of the prime motivators for a literary agent is that they do not receive payment until/unless they actually sell your manuscript to a publisher. In this way they are as interested in seeing you succeed as you are. If they are paid up front they may be less inclined to market your work effectively.

If you are looking for an agent, check to see if they are a member of AAR. There are plenty of individuals who are making a significant living by receiving fees from clients they do not represent well.

There are several locations on the web that provide information on agents to avoid. One of the most comprehensive can be found at http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/peala.htm Another source for agent information is a writer's market guidebook (there are multiple directories available).

You should know that it is entirely possible to get your manuscript published without the use of an agent, but it will take more research from you.

You will also most likely need to sell yourself as well as your work to a qualified agent. Many agents are already working with established authors so they often find it difficult to bring new authors on board. It can be done - remain persistent.

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