Career Focus - The World of Writing

Getting Published - Literary Agents and Publishers!

 

There are hundreds of manuscripts landing on the desks of publishers, literary agents and editors these days - so how do you make sure yours is one that gets noticed? The following questions and answers will help in your quest to getting published:

  • Do I need an Agent?

    One of the first questions you will need to ask yourself is - can I go it alone? Or would I better approaching publishers through an agent? Many publishers, whether it is for children's books, TV scripts or a poem won't consider a manuscript not sent through an agent.

  • What does a Literary Agent do?

    A Literary agent's job is to 'represent' an author and to sell the authors work to a publisher. It can be a hard job getting an agent to take you on - they are commercial people and will only select manuscripts they know they have a good chance of making money on (agents make their money on commission they earn from the sales of their clients work). There are economies of scale from huge 50 people+ agencies to one-man operations. The main benefit of having an agent is they know the publishing market and its dynamics inside out - they can evaluate which publishing house is likely to take your work and they will also be able to look at the legal aspects of your contract etc.

  • How do I find an Agent?

    If you a serious about trying to get work published then an invaluable tool will be 'The Writers and Artists Yearbook 2009' published by A&C Black. This bible of a book lists publishers, literary agents (including what type of work the specialise in  i.e. fiction, non-fiction, children's etc) - plus loads more useful and interesting information.

  • I have decided I want an Agent - how do I get them to take me seriously?

    Make sure your initial approach is professional, ensure you are approaching an agent who deals with your area of writing - its no good approaching a non-fiction specialist with your manuscript for a children's book. Phone to check to whom you should send your work and if there is any special way your submission should be sent - only submit neat, typed work on single-sided A4 paper. Send a short-covering letter explaining what it is, why you wrote it and who the intended audience is. Always say if you feel you are uniquely qualified to have written it or if you have specialist relevant expertise to the subject matter. It's also a good idea to provide a CV and a stamped-addressed envelope for the return of your manuscript. If you get invited to meet the agent, treat it like a job interview. Be prepared to talk about your work and yourself.

  • I don't want to have an Agent..I am going to approach Publishers on my own - what is the best way to do this?

    Firstly make sure you are approaching a publisher who specialises in your field. Again, it's no good supplying poetry to a travel specialist. The Writers and Artists Yearbook 2009 is the place to look for full listings of publishers by speciality.

    Make sure you follow all the guidelines of how to submit work for each publisher and ensure you are sending it to the right person within the company. Ring or email first to find out who is the best person to receive it. Many publishers' websites give guidance on how to submit material.

    Never send your only copy of the manuscript. Always include a SAE with correct postage so it can be returned to you with ease.

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