Top literary agents get about 400-1000
unsolicited queries every month from hopeful book authors. Publishing houses
sometimes juggle 5000. Most of my private clients and participants in my
seminar, How To Get A Six-Figure Book Advance, ask me "how is an author
supposed to get an agent’s attention when there is so much competition?"
First of all, don’t
write a book -- write a book proposal. Publishers buy ideas not books.
To capture a reputable literary agent’s attention you’ll need to show
that you’re a media star, or a star in the making. Good writing can be
bought but star power can’t.
Here are 5 more tips to
landing a top literary agent & a six-figure advance:
1. Do your research.
specialize in very specific interests. For example, my agent loves
tearjerkers but won’t take on books that involve children in peril. You
want an agent who has represented books similar to yours, who sells
books on a regular basis, who is devoted to you, and has the time to
give you a little guidance through the literary labyrinth.
Sometimes a newer, less
experienced literary agent who is hungry for business is more dedicated
and has more time to spend with you than an established one with a
reputable cadre of authors. I recommend 2 ways to find the literary
agent right for you:
Look in the
acknowledgements of books similar to your topic. A happy author
always thanks his literary agent. Once you’ve located your ideal
agents become familiar with their tastes, learn everything you can
about their interests, pet peeves and preferences, and review their
websites for submission guidelines. Show that knowledge in your
query letter or initial phone conversation.
Weekly, Publisher’s Lunch, and Variety to see who sold what and for
how much. You will get a sense of an agent’s sensibility and be able
to speak knowledgeably about the types of books they prefer when you
know what’s happening in the industry in general and in your area of
expertise in particular. You’ll know more than most people who
submit proposals as you’ll be apprised of books that aren’t even
published yet and movie deals in the making. And you’ll get a sense
of market trends.
2. Write a book proposal
that reads like a thriller.
After you’ve located the
agents you want to approach, the next step is to complete your book
proposal. Once interested by your call or query letter the very best
literary agents move at hyper speed. They’ll want to see your book
proposal--now. They’ll either ask you to Fed Ex or email it.
There is a real art to
writing a best-selling book proposal that makes the literary agent
you’ve chosen say, "I want this person as a client". To make your book
proposal read in one sitting you’ll want to write in short paragraphs
with strong headlines. Be sure to give the chosen agent an immediate
impression of how your book will read by writing the proposal in the
same style as your book.
Find unusual, quirky,
provocative tidbits about your subject that will entice the literary
agent to say, "Wow, I never knew this." Imagine the kind of tips that a
terrific magazine article would include. When an editor at a top New
York publishing house is reading your book proposal they are thinking,
what kind of media exposure will we be able to get for this book? Can we
get magazine feature articles, newspaper pieces, radio shows? Will the
subject matter and the author interest the producers of Good Morning
America, the Today Show, CNN, or Oprah?
3. Prove you have a
The one thing that
thrills a New York publisher the most is your platform. Your platform is
simply your reach. How many people are influenced by your ideas
worldwide? To simplify this even further, a publisher wants to know one
thing and one thing only (once they are interested in the subject matter
of your book), and that is...how many books are you going to sell and to
whom. You’ll need to demonstrate that you’re a great media guest, that
you have an audience eager to snap up your books and that you have a
proven track record for selling your books or wares.
4. Reveal how your past
performance predicts future behavior.
Map out each venue and
determine how many people are in attendance and how many of those people
will buy your book. Include workshops, seminars, fairs, media
appearances, book signings, keynotes, teleseminars, webinars, events,
newsletter lists, blogs, partnerships etc. Quantify everything in great
detail. Estimate and base potential sales on past sales you’ve
5. Show you are the one.
Show that there is a
clear need for your book and that you are the only one who can write it.
In other words what problem are you solving and why are you the
undisputed expert? What gap in the market are you filling? One of my
clients whose topic was about how to be the very best at what you do and
who you are, had a black belt, was a concert violinist and had given
seminars at The White House. She walked her talk, and lived her words.
You need to have top-notch skills in order to gain the interest of a
high caliber literary agent.
Follow these tips, and
you can land a top literary agent and a six-figure deal. I hope to see
your name on the New York Times bestseller list!
About the Author:
Media coach & marketing
strategist, Susan Harrow, can help you get paid $100,000 or more for
your book. For over 17 years, she has helped speakers, authors and
entrepreneurs get 6-figure book advances. In her book, Get a Six
Figure Book Advance, Susan explains the 15 steps to making big money
on your next book proposal. Buy it now and receive $450 worth
of free bonuses at: