7 ways to increase your chances of being taken on by a literary agent

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This is an extract from an article that first appeared in issue 7 of Publishing Talk Magazine.

What can you do to maximise your chances of having your submission read and being taken on by a literary agent? We asked bestselling agent Andrew Lownie of the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency to share his top 7 tips.

 7 ways to increase your chances of being taken on by a literary agent - by Andrew Lownie

  1. Research agencies to find the right fit. This is very easy to do, not least from looking at agency’s own websites, reference works, The Bookseller etc.
  2. Look at similar books. Look in the acknowledgements pages of books that are comparable  to see who was the agent. My agency doesn’t handle poetry, short stories, science fiction, romance, fantasy, women’s fiction, religious so it’s a waste of your and  time to send to me.
  3. Personalise your submission. Target it to the right agent and use their name.  Show you know what they handle and suggest how your book is similar. Give the impression this is an individual and not blanket approach.
  4. Don’t submit too early. You only have one shot. Make sure your submission is grammatical and polished by having it checked by a freelance editor.
  5. Build your profile. The more Twitter followers you have and the greater your engagement with social media and sites such as Goodreads the better.
  6. Give agents what they ask for. If they want chapter synopses or first three chapters then send that. It shows professionalism and will help the agent properly assess the submission. I personally want a one-page pitch on book, a page on authors and their platform, a page with details on five similar books and how your book is positioned in the market and suggested marketing outlets for book such as organisations, websites and magazines.
  7. Network. Go to where agents gather such as literary and writing festivals, meetings of Society of Authors etc.

Read more advice from Andrew in issue 7 of Publishing Talk Magazine

About Author

Andrew Lownie, the bestselling literary agent in the world according to Publishers Marketplace, was short-listed for The Bookseller UK literary agent of the year in 2014 and 2015. He has run his own agency, the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, since 1988 having previously been a director of Curtis Brown and worked as a bookseller, journalist and publisher. He has served on the committee of EnglishPen and in 1997 founded the Biographers Club, a networking organisation for biographers of which he is now President. He is also the author himself of several books, including Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess.

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