These days, to be taken seriously as a professional writer, and to free yourself to focus on writing and speaking, a literary agent is a must. Publishers great and small are bombarded, and heed the voice of an agent’s suggestion over the mountainous slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts cluttering their desks. Without an agent, the odds are stacked as high as the slush pile against you.
But pursuing one too soon, can actually hinder your progress. So before you consult the Guide to Literary Agents, the Writer’s Market Guide, the Christian Writer’s Market Guide, or reach out to a great organization like the WordServe Literary Group, take the following quiz. See if you’re ready for serious representation.
You know you need a Literary Agent when…
- You’ve invested weeks, months, and probably years, studying the craft of writing. Reading books like these: On Writing Well, The Art of War for Writers, Bird by Bird, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Stein on Writing, and the bible on easy reading grammar tips, The Elements of Style.
- You are now obsessed with updating your writer’s knowledge base, and regularly read other books on writing, watch webinars, read writing blogs, and joined at least one professional writer’s association.
- You have practiced what you’ve learned, chipping away at every amateur, unpolished, neophyte part that weakened your work in progress. And then you let it sit for at least two weeks, before looking at it with fresh eyes, and chipping away some more.
- You honed the skills of Writing a Winning Fiction Proposal, or Writing a Winning Non-Fiction Proposal. Depending on the genre of your work in progress.
- You let the completed proposal sit for at least two weeks, and then with a fresh pair of eyes, went through it once more with a fine toothed pen.
- You’ve networked with other writing professionals on social media, at writing conferences, and by following their blogs. The new friends you’ve made have taught you insider secrets, directed you to other learning opportunities, and maybe introduced you to a few influencers in the industry.
- You’ve had at least one person with a professional writing background, look over your work in progress. With a teachable spirit, a thick skin, and determination not to react defensively, you’ve listened to their suggestions, and improved your proposal and/or manuscript.
- You feel squeamish at the thought of trying to negotiate the sale of your book, and the ensuing contract with publishing houses.
- You are willing to listen to expert advice that will make your work stronger, will help you create enticing titles, and will lead you to topics that will sell.
- You have taken action on the things you’ve learned through your investment of study. Especially the things often repeated, such as: Show Versus Tell, Build a Platform, Grow Your Social Media Connections, Know Your Target Audience, Create a Marketing Plan, and more.
Acquiring a literary agent can feel daunting. But step-by-step, you can move closer to your goal as a professional writer. The ones who fail, are those who give up too soon.
Are you ready to pursue professional representation?
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, Certified Training Facilitator, Communications Specialist, national speaker, and author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, a client of WordServe Literary Group, and the Simply Sue Speaks booking agency. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries.
Anita’s passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith. Anita lives in Missouri with her husband Ricky.