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How to Write a Great Query Letter (with Hints + Tips)

Sample query letter + template included You\'ve edited the daylights out of your novel, you know it\'s ready to take the world by storm... and so now, it\'s time to find an agent. A great query letter will help your submission stand out in an agent\'s inbox -- and we\'re going to show you how to write the perfect letter. We\'ll get started with an example -- a real example, from a real author describing a real book (me, describing one of my books, although I\'m pretending a number of things here: that it\'s a first novel, that I have no track record within the industry, that I finished writing it just this year) -- and then we\'ll show you all the steps you need to make your letter sing. Tiny digression: this isn’t a complete guide to getting your book published. You can get that here. Nor is it a full guide to getting an agent – more info here, and here.) Write A Query Letter In 3 Easy Steps: Introductory sentence – include your purpose for writing (you’re seeking representation!) book title, wordcount, genre.1-2 paragraphs about your book – what your book’s about and why a reader will love it.A brief note about You – who you are and why you wrote the book. Here’s What A Query Letter Should Look Like First up, here’s a query letter of a sort that would make any agent want to start reading the manuscript in question: Dear Agent NameI’m writing to seek representation for my first novel, TALKING TO THE DEAD. It\'s a police procedural in the mold of Tana French\'s DUBLIN MURDER SQUAD novels and it is complete at 115,000 words. The book opens with news of a murder: a young woman and her daughter have been found dead in a rough area of Cardiff. The house where they’re found is in poor condition, but in the corner of the room is a platinum bank card belonging to a local millionaire. A millionaire who died in a plane crash some nine months previously. New recruit, Detective Constable Fiona Grifffiths is assigned to the investigation.Puzzling as this crime looks, it’s not the heart of the book’s mystery. It becomes rapidly clear that Fiona Griffiths herself is a very peculiar woman, who is withholding crucial secrets from the reader. Who exactly is her father? What was her childhood illness? And what is it with her and corpses?I currently run my own small consultancy business, and this is my first novel. I look forward to writing further novels in the series. I\'m writing to you because I know you represent Jo Nesbo and Chuck Wendig, two authors I deeply admire and whose work was absolutely an inspiration to this book.I enclose the first three chapters and a synopsis. I hope you like what you see and look forward to hearing from you.Yours,Harry Bingham Simple right? And you can do it, no? Here’s that query letter again with my comments highlighted in bold: I’m writing to seek representation [the purpose of you getting in touch] for my first novel, TALKING TO THE DEAD. It\'s a police procedural in the mold of Tana French\'s DUBLIN MURDER SQUAD novels and it is complete at 115,000 words. [title, genre, comp title, word count – all defined fast and clearly.]The book opens with news of a murder: a young woman and her daughter have been found dead in a rough area of Cardiff. The house where they’re found is in poor condition, but in the corner of the room is a platinum bank card belonging to a local millionaire. A millionaire who died in a plane crash some nine months previously. [This sets up the basic premise of the crime story. Already, the agent has the basic co-ordinates she needs to navigate.] New recruit, Detective Constable Fiona Grifffiths is assigned to the investigation. [Introduce main character – clearly and succinctly.]Puzzling as this crime looks, it’s not the heart of the book’s mystery. It becomes rapidly clear that Fiona Griffiths herself is a very peculiar woman, who is withholding crucial secrets from the reader. Who exactly is her father? What was her childhood illness? And what is it with her and corpses? [This hints nicely at the book’s mood and USP. It starts to suggest the emotional payoff – a mystery to do with the book’s central character.]I currently run my own small consultancy business, and this is my first novel. I look forward to writing further novels in the series. [A line or two about me. Confirmation that I understand I’m writing a series – an important touch for this kind of fiction.] I\'m writing to you because I know you represent Jo Nesbo and Chuck Wendig, two authors I deeply admire and whose work was absolutely an inspiration to this book. [An acknowledgement as to why you\'ve written to this agent, something showing that you\'ve done your research.]I enclose the first three chapters and a synopsis. I hope you like what you see and look forward to hearing from you. [Wrap it up. The whole letter easily fits onto one page. And yes, I know you’ll be sending an email, but you know what I mean.] Now you know what you’re doing, we’ll get into a slightly more specific analysis. What To Include In Your Query Letter So, let\'s recap what your letter needs to include: Avery brief 1-sentence summary of the book and your purpose in writing itA somewhat longer, 1-2 paragraph, introduction to the book. (Not a full-scale plot summary, that’s for the synopsis).A brief introduction to you.Your materials, tailored to the submission guidelines for that particular agent. It also needs to be short: no longer than a page, and ideally even less than that. I\'d also recommend you include some comparative (or \'comp\') titles and perhaps a note about why you\'re reaching out to this particular agent -- but we\'ll get to that. The One-Sentence Summary Consider this your thesis statement, your whole reason for writing this letter. You need to say why you’re writing. (You’re seeking representation, right? So say so.)You need to give the title of your book -- in italics, please.You need to give the word count of your book, rounded to the nearest hundred words. (An additional word of advice: check out our handy guide to word counts to be sure yours is approximately right for your genre\'s market.) You need to give the approximate genre or territory of your book. If you do those things, the agent can instantly understand what you want and what you’re offering. You will also, by the way, prove yourself to be a swift, professional writer. The One-to-Two Paragraph Introduction First, it’s important to say what this is not. You are not writing a back-of-book blurb. Nor are you writing a detailed outline of your story. (That’ll come in the form of your synopsis – more synopsis help right here.) What you are doing is explaining what your book is and why a reader will feel compelled to read it. That ‘what’ element will typically be a matter of presenting some facts. You need to give some more information about your settings, your premise, your characters and so on. You don’t need to be as salesy as a cover blurb, and you don’t need to be as dry as a synopsis. Think about it almost as though you were chatting to your best friend and telling them about the book you’ve just been reading. The ‘why’ element is equally crucial. Here, you are conveying something about emotions. What is a reader going to feel as they read the book? What kind of atmosphere will they inhabit? What kind of emotional payoff or challenge is likely? A Brief Introduction to You, the author There are a few elements to this, from which you can pick and choose depending on whether or not they apply. About youLuckily, agents don’t care too much about you. Nor should they. They should care about the book, and only the book. That’s a fine, honest, meritocratic approach. May the best book win! That said, agents are obviously curious about the person behind the manuscript. So tell them something about yourself. It’s fine to be human here, rather than resume-style formal. It’s also OK to be quite brief. For example: “I am a 41-year-old mother, with three children, two dogs, one husband, and the finest vegetable garden in the southwest.” Why you wrote the bookIf there is a real connection between who you are (a shrimp fisher, let’s say) and the book you’ve written (something to do with the sea and fishing) then it’s worth another sentence or two to tease that out a bit. But don’t feel compelled to do that. In my case, I wrote a crime novel, just because I wanted to write one. I’m not a cop or ex-cop. I have no forensics expertise. I have no legal expertise. Or anything else relevant. And that doesn’t matter, of course – what matters is the quality of the book. So if you have something good to say, say it. If you have nothing to say, then say nothing and don’t worry about it. Your previous writing historyIf you have some real background as a writer, then do say so. For example, you might have written a textbook or similar on a topic relevant to your own professional area. Or you might have won or been shortlisted for a major short story prize. Or perhaps you work as a journalist or copywriter. Or something similar. If anything like that is the case, then do say so. But if it’s not – don’t worry! We’ve seen a lot of agent query letters that say things like “I haven’t had much writing experience, but my English teacher always used to say that I would be a writer one day . . .” And, you know what? It just sounds feeble. So don’t say it. Agents know that most slushpile submissions will be by complete newbie authors. And that’s fine! Writing a series?If you are thinking that this book wants to be the first in a series, it\'s okay to say so, like I did in that sample letter above. But you don\'t want to be too rigid or arrogant, eg “I have completed the first four novels in my Lords of the Silver Sword series, and have got complete chapter outlines for the next 11 titles. I am looking for a publisher who will commit fully to the series.” Agents will almost certainly reject you out of hand for that sort of thing. Remember, you\'re still working on getting your first book picked up -- so keep the focus there. Your Materials Every agent is looking for something different, so be sure to check (and double-check) their submission guidelines. These are helpfully posted on the agency\'s website -- but they can sometimes even differ between agents at the same agency. Some may want to read the first twenty pages; others, the first three chapters. Some may ask for a synopsis, some might not. Pay careful attention to specific formatting requests, as well. Don\'t miss your shot by sending a PDF when they\'ve requested all materials to be sent as a Word Document! A Note on Comparative Titles In today’s competitive publishing environment, it’s imperative that you prove that your book has market potential. The best way to do this is to include comparison titles that closely align with your book’s genre and tone. We recommend comparing your manuscript to at least two titles that were published in the last few years. While you might be inclined to compare your fantasy trilogy to that all-time best-seller The Lord of the Rings, a comparison like that won\'t demonstrate any knowledge of the current fantasy market -- whereas a comparison to N.K. Jemisin\'s The Broken Earth Trilogy or Christelle Dabos\' The Mirror Visitor Quartet will show that you\'re presently reading in the genre you\'re writing. A great way to think about this is also the classic \"X meets Y\" formulation, or the elevator pitch. I know your book is far more complex than a cross between, oh I don\'t know, Beowulf and The Hurt Locker except with a female protagonist... but aren\'t you hooked by that brief tease all the same? Why This Agent? There are a sea of diverse agents out there with a wide variety of specializations and genre preferences. This is good news for you because it means that there’s probably an agent who specializes in the specific genre you write for! It also means that it\'s crucial that you do your research before finally sending your query letter. Tailoring your letter to an agent is the perfect way to demonstrate that you know your stuff and are serious about achieving agent representation. Make sure to look at the agent’s website to narrow down what sort of books they’re looking to represent. Try to really dig into their agent wish list and who they’ve represented in the past. Are they simply interested in fantasy? Or is it something more specific like epic fantasy with a strong female lead? Explain why you’re reaching out to them specifically and why they’re the right agent for you, whether that\'s because they represent authors you love or because they\'re specifically looking for a book that\'s just like yours. This doesn’t need to be a long section and it fits conveniently in your introduction or conclusion.   We can help YOU get published.Did you know, we have a complete course on getting published? The course covers absolutely everything you need to know: how to prepare your manuscript, how to find agents, how to compile your shortlist, how to write your query letter and synopsis – and much, much more besides.That course is quite expensive to buy . . . so don’t buy it. The course is available completely free to members of Jericho Writers. Not just that course. You get our Agent Match tool for finding literary agents. You get our awesome How To Write course. Plus our members get regular opportunities to pitch their work live online to a panel of literary agents.Sounds good, doesn’t it? So hop over here and find out more about joining us. Some Exceptions in Query Letters There are, as ever, exceptions to any rules. Of those, the two most important ones you need to know about are: You Have A Personal Hook This will usually apply to those of you writing high-end literary fiction: you have, if you\'d like it, a little bit of room to strut. For example, let\'s say you were writing about a fictional nun in 14th century Florence, you might talk a bit about the themes of your work and what inspired you to pick up this story. \"While I was living alone on an island off the Scottish coast, I began reading about female monasticism and soon found myself, when I wasn\'t tending to the sheep, compelled by the stories of...\" or something like that. If you\'re aspiring to be the next Lauren Groff or the next Orhan Pamuk, it\'s okay to not only sell the book but yourself too. Don\'t get too carried away -- remember, agents are looking for good writing more than anything -- but if you have a personal or interesting stake in what you\'ve written, share it! You Are Writing Non-fiction And You Have A Remarkable Platform Let’s say you are writing a cookbook and you have a couple of million people who subscribe to your YouTube channel. Or you are writing a book about motorcycle repair and you have a motorbike-themed blog with 250,000 monthly readers. In those cases, you have to delineate your platform in enough detail to convince an agent (and ultimately a publisher) that you are the right person to write this manuscript. In such cases, you\'ll want to be honest about such a thing. Add a few sentences to your \'brief\' introduction and lay out just how incredible you are. Just keep in mind that having a website or 10k Twitter followers does not a platform make -- this is an exception for those of you who are true authorities on the topic, whether that means you\'ve got six or seven figures following your output or you\'ve recently won the Nobel Prize in Economics and are ready to publish a book distilling your genius for the masses. But you know what? Still keep it concise. That one-page-or-less rule still matters, because it\'s the 21st Century and if you write that you have the fastest-growing newsletter subscriber base on Substack... agents can look you up. And they will, so make sure you aren\'t fudging those numbers. What To Do If You Don’t Hear Back From Literary Agents So.You\'ve got your shortlist of at least 6 / preferably something like 10-12 agents and you\'ve checked their submission requirements.You\'ve your own perfect query letter, avoiding any weak language, misspellings, or grammatical howlers.You\'ve used our advice to put together your synopsis, which you haven\'t spent too long writing because, if you\'re using our techniques, the process is simplicity itself.You\'ve followed our simple rules on manuscript formatting. Time to send off your queries! Go ahead and light some candles, pray to your favorite saints, throw a mirror over a ladder. (...or is it under? Or maybe the mirror goes into a wishing well? Whatever works for you, honestly.) And now... you wait. Sometimes you\'ll be waiting only a few days (rarely), sometimes you\'ll be waiting for three months. Expect that, on the whole, it\'ll easily be 6-8 weeks before you hear a response. When that email does come in, what happens next? They might ask to read more -- or they might reply with a rejection. Now keep in mind: rejections do happen, and are likely to happen even if you’ve written a great book. Agents take on maybe a handful of new clients a year, or they might already have an author who writes something too directly competitive to your book, or they just like a different sort of thing. It isn\'t necessarily about you or your book! But if you send your material out to 10-12 agents, and find yourself being rejected by all of them, then you have to ask yourself: Am I being rejected because I’ve chosen the wrong agents?Am I being rejected because my query letter / synopsis are poor?Am I being rejected because my book isn’t up to scratch? And truthfully, the third of these issues is by far the most common. If you’ve written a great book, and a rubbish query letter, you can still find an agent. The other way around? Never. If you are confident that you’ve gone to the right agents, and have been rejected by 10+ people (or heard nothing after 8 weeks, which amonts to the exact same thing), then the probable truth is that your book is not yet strong enough for commercial publication. And, you know what? That’s not a big deal. All books start out bad. Then they get better. So getting rejected is really just a signal that you still have further to travel down that road. The right agent will be there when your book is read, so get to writing! And good luck! Also, remember that getting third party editorial advice is the standard way of improving your work. We offer outstanding editorial help and you can read all about it here. Alternatively, join the Jericho Writers family, and you can get a ton of help absolutely free within your membership. Free courses on How To Write. Free courses on Getting Published. Free access to AgentMatch. And so much more. Find out more here. About the author Harry Bingham has been a professional author for twenty years and more. He’s been published by each of the three largest publishers in the world. He’s hit bestseller lists, had a ton of critical acclaim, and has been published in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Japan . . . and lots of other places too. His work has been adapted for the screen and he’s enjoyed (almost) every minute of his career. (More about Harry, more about his books). As head of Jericho Writers (and previously the Writers’ Workshop), Harry has helped hundreds of people find agents and get published. He’d love it if you were next. (More about us.)
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Getting Rejected By Literary Agents? Here’s What To Do Next

All writers face rejection. But what if you’ve sent your book to well over fifteen literary agents or small publishers and still aren’t getting anywhere? What do you do?   As a writer who has faced exactly this MANY times, I want to let you know that this doesn’t mean it is over. Not by any means. There are things you can do to continue working towards publication, even if that doesn’t feel possible right now.   So – let’s look at the options available to you.   Option 1: Edit The Crap Out Of This Book So maybe you have an idea here that agents seemed to be excited about, but you were getting feedback on something like ‘unlikable characters’, or ‘lack of voice’.  Fortunately, this is something that can be fixed with some hard work and perhaps even a bit of help from other people.   The first thing to do is to identify what parts of your book as it stands aren’t really working. This can be difficult in itself because a lot of agents don’t have the time to deliver feedback. You could be getting standard rejections, with no idea why.   This is where something like a Manuscript Assessment might come in handy. An experienced editor will read your entire book and give you a detailed report on what is working and what isn’t. You can then use this as a base to look at your book as objectively as you can, and ask yourself if that is something you are able, or willing to fix. This is a REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION that we’ll explore a little more in the next section.   But let’s say your feedback is mainly that your idea is brilliant, but your execution needs work. And you think you are able to do that work. What next?   Now, the real work begins. And it’s worth knowing from the off that re-writing a book is hard. First drafts are a doddle compared to it, because you have a blank page and a whole world of opportunity to write something awesome. So my personal tip for big re-writes is exactly that – start a new document. Learn from your old draft (and copy/paste some sections if they are working), but give yourself the space to write the book you are trying to write, rather than getting bogged down with what you already have.   There are people who can help at this stage, too. Debi Alper’s brilliant Self-Edit Your Novel course was created specifically for this purpose. You can work with a tutor and a small group of writers in the same boat as you to identify and fix the issues with your book. With 1-in-5 alumni now published, it’s fair to say that it works!  Once you have something you are pleased with, send it out again to new agents, or any agents who have asked to see any changes again. You can also test it out with some competitions and see how far you get this time!  OPTION 2: Write Another Book   This is my personal favourite option. I found myself in this very position three times before my debut novel was published, and I 100% stand by my decision to ditch every single one of those three books.   The thing was, that although each of those three lost books were good, they just weren’t good enough. The writing in my first book was dire – but then it would be – I was completely new to writing and I hadn’t learned the basics yet. My second book I think might have been a masterpiece, but wow – was it problematic. That book will never find a publisher because it couldn’t be marketed. And my third novel was fun, but I knew before I’d even finished that it just wasn’t special.   Your book needs to be absolutely mind-blowing to stand a chance in this market. It needs to have an original concept, brilliant characters, a striking voice and a plot that will keep readers turning pages. Nothing less is good enough.   I mentioned earlier that there was a REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION you needed to ask yourself. And that is: ‘Is this book really good enough? Or can I write something better?’   I know it can be hard to say goodbye to a project without really seeing an end to it. But it isn’t wasted time. Every book you write will take you one step closer to one that will launch your author career. So write another book. And if that’s not right, write another. And know that once you get published, you will keep needing to write, write and write some more – it never stops.   But that’s okay. Because we’re in this because we enjoy it, right?!  For anyone wanting to write another book and ensure their idea is marketable right from day one this time, then I recommend joining the Ultimate Novel Writing Course. This is ultimate for a reason.   OPTION 3: Self-Publish  Now this one comes with a big BUT. Self-Publishing IS an option, BUT it is NOT a last resort because you couldn’t get a traditional publishing deal.   Self-publishing takes a great deal of time, passion and dedication if it is going to work. It only works if you are willing to write book after book (preferably in the same world/series) and you accept the fact that you probably won’t sell any of this first book until after your third or fourth have come out.   To self-publish properly, you need to be a writing machine. You also need to learn everything you can about what it takes to become an indie author. You need to invest time and money into it, and so you need to be 100% sure that you are willing to do that.   If you are, then great. This is a fantastic option that should have perhaps been your option 1. You’ll earn more money from your books, have more of a say in how they are presented and engage with your readers in a way traditional authors can’t.   If you’re embarking on this option, then ensure you sign up to be a Jericho Writers member. As a member, you’ll get free, unlimited access to our professional Self-Publishing course, as well as masterclasses on everything from cover design, to book marketing.   Whatever option you choose, know that rejection doesn’t mean the end. If publication really is something you want, then get ready to roll up your sleeves and work for it. Read everything, learn everything and write the best book you possibly can. If you want it, you’ll get there.  
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How to Write a Great Query Letter (with Hints + Tips)

Sample query letter + template included You want to know what a great query letter to literary agents should look like? We’re going to show you a perfect sample letter in a moment. But we’re also going to figure out what your query letter needs to do – and how you’re going to write it. This blog post will give you everything you need – and I promise that if you are talented enough to write a book, you are EASILY capable of writing a strong, confident query letter. OK. We’ll get stuck in in one second. But I should probably tell you that I am a real author describing a real book. The query letter below pretends that this book is a first novel and I have no track record in the industry. Tiny digression: this isn’t a complete guide to getting your book published. You can get that here. Nor is it a full guide to getting an agent – more info here, and here.) Write A Query Letter In 3 Easy Steps: Introductory sentence – include your purpose for writing (you’re seeking representation!) book title, wordcount, genre.1-2 paragraphs about your book – what your book’s about and why a reader will love it.A brief note about You – who you are and why you wrote the book. Here’s What A Query Letter Should Look Like Remember that your query letter needs to accomplish the following goals: Introduce the purpose of your letter (ie: to secure representation).To define in a very concise way the manuscript that you’ve written (ie: title, genre, word count)To introduce your work at slightly more length – so you say what it is (setting / setup / premise / main character)To give a sense of the emotional mood of your work – what is the emotional payoff for the reader?To give a hint of your book’s USP or angleTo say something – not much – about you We’ll say more about all that shortly. But first up, here’s a query letter of a sort that would make any sane agent want to start reading the manuscript in question: Dear Agent NameI’m writing to seek representation for my first novel, TALKING TO THE DEAD, a police procedural of 115,000 words.The book opens with news of a murder: a young woman and her daughter have been found dead in a rough area of Cardiff. The house where they’re found is in poor condition, but in the corner of the room is a platinum bank card belonging to a local millionaire. A millionaire who died in a plane crash some nine months previously. New recruit, Detective Constable Fiona Grifffiths is assigned to the investigation.Puzzling as this crime looks, it’s not the heart of the book’s mystery. It becomes rapidly clear that Fiona Griffiths herself is a very peculiar woman, who is withholding crucial secrets from the reader. Who exactly is her father? What was her childhood illness? And what is it with her and corpses?I currently run my own small consultancy business, and this is my first novel. I look forward to writing further novels in the series.I enclose the first three chapters and a synopsis. I hope you like what you see and look forward to hearing from you.Yours,Harry Bingham Simple right? And you can do it, no? Here’s that query letter again with my comments highlighted in bold: I’m writing to seek representation [the purpose of you getting in touch] for my first novel, TALKING TO THE DEAD, a police procedural of 115,000 words. [title, genre, word count – all defined fast and clearly.]The book opens with news of a murder: a young woman and her daughter have been found dead in a rough area of Cardiff. The house where they’re found is in poor condition, but in the corner of the room is a platinum bank card belonging to a local millionaire. A millionaire who died in a plane crash some nine months previously. [This sets up the basic premise of the crime story. Already, the agent has the basic co-ordinates she needs to navigate.] New recruit, Detective Constable Fiona Grifffiths is assigned to the investigation. [Introduce main character – clearly and succinctly.]Puzzling as this crime looks, it’s not the heart of the book’s mystery. It becomes rapidly clear that Fiona Griffiths herself is a very peculiar woman, who is withholding crucial secrets from the reader. Who exactly is her father? What was her childhood illness? And what is it with her and corpses? [This hints nicely at the book’s mood and USP. It starts to suggest the emotional payoff – a mystery to do with the book’s central character.]I currently run my own small consultancy business, and this is my first novel. I look forward to writing further novels in the series. [A line or two about me. Confirmation that I understand I’m writing a series – an important touch for this kind of fiction.]I enclose the first three chapters and a synopsis. I hope you like what you see and look forward to hearing from you. [Wrap it up. The whole letter easily fits onto one page. And yes, I know you’ll be sending an email, but you know what I mean.] Now you know what you’re doing, we’ll get into a slightly more specific analysis. What To Include In Your Query Letter All the letter must do is: Give a very brief 1-sentence summary of the book and your purpose in writing itA somewhat longer, 1-2 paragraph, introduction to the book. (Not a full-scale plot summary, that’s for the synopsis).A brief introduction to you.Not be badly written. That’s it. If you can write a novel, you can write that letter. And each of those elements is simple enough. The 1 sentence summary You need to say why you’re writing. (You’re seeking representation, right? So say so.)You need to give the title of your book, either underlined or (better) in italics, please.You need to give the word count of your book, rounded to the nearest 5,000 words. (And one word of advice: just be sure your word count is approximately right for the market. Advice here.)You need to give the approximate genre or territory of your book. If you do those things, the agent can instantly understand what you want and what you’re offering. You will also, by the way, prove yourself to be a swift, professional writer. The 1-2 paragraph introduction to the book First, it’s important to say what this is not. You are not writing a back-of-book blurb. But nor are you writing a detailed outline of your story. (That’ll come in the form of your synopsis – more synopsis help right here.) What you are doing is explaining what your book is and why a reader will feel compelled to read it. That ‘what’ element will typically be a matter of presenting some facts. You need to give some more information about your settings, your premise, your characters and so on. You don’t need to be as salesy as a cover blurb, and you don’t need to be as dry as a synopsis. It’s almost as though you were chatting to your best friend and telling her about the book you’ve just been reading. The ‘why’ element is equally crucial. Here, you are conveying something about emotions. What is a reader going to feel as they read the book? What kind of atmosphere will they inhabit? What kind of emotional payoff or challenge is likely? A brief introduction to you, the author About youLuckily, agents don’t care too much about you. Nor should they. They should care about the book, and only the book. That’s a fine, honest, meritocratic approach. May the best book win! That said, agents are obviously curious about the person behind the manuscript. So tell them something about yourself. It’s fine to be human here, rather than resume-style formal. It’s also OK to be quite brief. For example: “I am a 41-year-old mother, with three children, two dogs, one husband, and the finest vegetable garden in the southwest.” Why you wrote the bookIf there is a real connection between who you are (a shrimp fisher, let’s say) and the book you’ve written (something to do with the sea and fishing) then it’s worth another sentence or two to tease that out a bit. But don’t feel compelled to do that. In my case, I wrote a crime novel, just because I wanted to write one. I’m not a cop or ex-cop. I have no forensics expertise. I have no legal expertise. Or anything else relevant. And that doesn’t matter, of course – what matters is the quality of the book. So if you have something good to say, say it. If you have nothing to say, then say nothing and don’t worry about it. Your previous writing historyIf you have some real background as a writer, then do say so. For example, you might have written a textbook or similar on a topic relevant to your own professional area. Or you might have won or been shortlisted for a major short story prize. Or perhaps you work as a journalist or copywriter. Or something similar. If anything like that is the case, then do say so. But if it’s not – don’t worry! We’ve seen a lot of agent query letters that say things like “I haven’t had much writing experience, but my English teacher always used to say that I would be a writer one day . . .” And, you know what? It just sounds feeble. So don’t say it. Agents know that most slushpile submissions will be by complete newbie authors. And that’s fine. JK Rowling was a newbie once . . . Writing a series?If you are writing a series, then you should say so, much as I did in that sample letter above. Agents will like the fact that you recognise the series potential of your work and that you are committed to taking the steps needed to develop it. What you don’t want to do, is sound overly rigid or arrogant. (“I have completed the first four novels in my Lords of the Silver Sword series, and have got complete chapter outlines for the next 11 titles. I am looking for a publisher who will commit fully to the series.” — if you write something like that, agents are likely to reject you out of hand.) How long should your query letter be? Your overall letter should not run to more than one page. (Except that non-fiction and literary authors can give themselves maybe a page and a half). And that’s it. We can help YOU get published.Did you know, we have a complete course on getting published? The course covers absolutely everything you need to know: how to prepare your manuscript, how to find agents, how to compile your shortlist, how to write your query letter and synopsis – and much, much more besides.That course is quite expensive to buy . . . so don’t buy it. The course is available completely free to members of Jericho Writers. Not just that course. You get our Agent Match tool for finding literary agents. You get our awesome How To Write course. Plus our members get regular opportunities to pitch their work live online to a panel of literary agents.Sounds good, doesn’t it? So hop over here and find out more about joining us. Query Letters: The Exceptions OK, there are a few exceptions to the above rules. Of those, the two most important ones you need to know about are: You Are Writing Literary Fiction If you are writing genuinely high end literary fiction, agents will want you to strut a little, even in your query letter. So if you were writing about (Oh, I dunno) a fictional nun in 14th century Florence, you might talk a bit about the themes of your work and what inspired you to pick up this story. This kind of thing: “I got the idea for this story, while working as a game warden one winter on the Hebridean island of Macvity. I was all alone and with a deeply unreliable internet connection. It occurred to me that my solitary life had its religious aspect and I became very interested in female monasticism. Blah, yadda, yadda, blah.” (Sorry for the blahs, but personally I like books that have corpses in them.) The idea of this kind of approach is that you are selling the book (its themes, its resonances), but also you’re selling yourself – you’re showing that you can walk the talk as a literary writer. You Are Writing Non-fiction And You Have A Remarkable Platform Let’s say you are writing a cookbook and you have a couple of million people who subscribe to your YouTube channel. Or you are writing a book about motorcycle repair and you have a motorbike-themed blog with 250,000 monthly readers. In those cases, you have to delineate your platform in enough detail to convince an agent (and ultimately a publisher) that you are the right person to write this manuscript. In those cases, then your query letter does need to outline your platform in sufficient detail. You may even want to kick that outline over into a separate document. However you handle it, the “one page query letter” rule can safely be binned. Your prospective agent wants to know what kind of platform you can supply – so tell her. Oh yes: and having a website is not a platform. Having 10,000 followers on Twitter is impressive, but means nothing in the context of national or international marketing. In short: if you are going to make a big deal of your platform, your platform itself needs to be a big deal. That means having six- or seven-figure numbers to boast about. Nothing else will really cut it. You Are Writing Non-fiction And You Have Extraordinary Authority Much the same goes if you are (let’s say) writing a book of popular psychology and (like Daniel Kahnemann) just happen to have a Nobel Prize to wave around. If you bring amazing authority to a topic, then you need to cover that, either in your query letter or a separate bio. Again, the one page rule just doesn’t apply. What To Do If You Don’t Hear Back From Literary Agents So. Let’s say you’ve got a shortlist of agents. You’ve checked those agents’ websites for their specific submission requirements – probably opening chapters + query letter + synopsis. You use our query letter sample and write your own perfect query letter. You avoid any weak language, misspellings or grammatical howlers, of course. You use our advice to put together your synopsis (advice right here.) You don’t spend too long on writing the synopsis either, because if you use our techniques, that process is simplicity itself. You read the opening chunk of your manuscript one last time – and follow our simple rules on manuscript formatting. And then – well, you send your stuff off. You light some candles, pray to your favourite saints, tie a black cat into a knot and throw a mirror over a ladder. (Or under it? Or something to do with a wishing well? I’m not sure. Superstition isn’t my strong suit.) Anyway. You get your stuff out to at least 6 agents and preferably more like 10-12. You wait an unfeasibly long amount of time – but let’s say 6-8 weeks as a rough guide. What happens next? Well. Rejections do happen, and are likely to happen even if you’ve written a great book. (Because agents have their hands full. Or just like a different sort of thing. Or have an author who is too directly competitive. Or anything else. It’s not always about you or your book.) But if you send your material out to 10-12 agents, and find yourself being rejected, then you have to ask yourself: Am I being rejected because I’ve chosen the wrong agents?Am I being rejected because my query letter / synopsis are poor?Am I being rejected because my book isn’t up to scratch? Truthfully? The third of these issues is by far the most common. If you’ve written a great book, and a rubbish query letter, you can still find an agent. The other way around? Never. If you are confident that you’ve gone to the right agents, and have been rejected by 10+ people (or heard nothing after 8 weeks, which amonts to the exact same thing), then the probable truth is that your book is not yet strong enough for commercial publication. And, you know what? That’s not a big deal. All books start out bad. Then they get better. So getting rejected is really just a signal that you still have further to travel down that road. Remember that getting third party editorial advice is the standard way of improving your work. We offer outstanding editorial help and you can read all about it here. Alternatively, join the Jericho Writers family, and you can get a ton of help absolutely free within your membership. Free courses on How To Write. Free courses on Getting Published. Free access to AgentMatch. And so much more. Find out more here. Happy writing, and good luck! About the author Harry Bingham has been a professional author for twenty years and more. He’s been published by each of the three largest publishers in the world. He’s hit bestseller lists, had a ton of critical acclaim, and has been published in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Japan . . . and lots of other places too. His work has been adapted for the screen and he’s enjoyed (almost) every minute of his career. (More about Harry, more about his books). As head of Jericho Writers (and previously the Writers’ Workshop), Harry has helped hundreds of people find agents and get published. He’d love it if you were next. (More about us.)
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Literary agents for travel non-fiction

So you’ve written a travel memoir and want to find an agent to represent it? Easier said than done, because there are so many agents, with so many preferences and requirements, so many different sites to explore and notes to take. If you’re writing a travel tome, it also needs to set itself apart. Think about what makes books like Into the Wild, Eat Pray Love, or Under the Tuscan Sun appealing to readers. We’ve at least made your agent search easy through AgentMatch. Agentmatch And How To Use It On AgentMatch, there are plenty of travel-loving agents, and you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. travel) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. This site is designed to give users a good feel for the data and functionality for free, but the real riches of our site are available only to members. Become a member.
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US agents for romance

From Jane Austen and onwards, romantic fiction is one of the most popular of all genres. There are plenty of romance-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  Jessica Alvarez Rachel Beck Beth Campbell Susanna Einstein Thao Le Nikki Terpilowski Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! Agents Looking For Romance Authors Although Romance is a popular genre, it hasn’t necessarily always got the respect it deserves. Romance is generally used in modern publishing to distinguish between ‘women’s fiction’ (this is fairly literary, upmarket and serious) from ‘romance.’ A term normally associated with happily mass-market brands such as Mills & Boon and Black Lace, as well as fun, frolicky romances from big publishers.  As the genre is so broad, it’s not enough to simply look for agents with an interest in women’s fiction. You need to find those who are expressly interested in fiction at the more commercial end of the market. You can find the agents interested in representing Romance here, on AgentMatch.
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Literary agents for romance

Guest author and blogger Mandy Berriman shares with us how she hooked her literary agent and the importance of never giving up. I went to a family wedding earlier this year. At our places at dinner, we each had a name card with a quote on the back. Mine read: I have one talent; I never give up. We laughed at the aptness, but it was also a well-timed personal reminder to me. Keep going, you’re almost there, don’t give up. And on I went with the current rewrite, kicking the doubt demons into the dust along the way. I think it is possible that in the history of Jericho Writers (The Writers’ Workshop), I hold the longest record for not giving up: eleven years, two months and 26 days, to be precise. I was one of their earliest clients with my nine chapters of an unfinished ghost novel for children. It was the first piece of fiction I’d written since leaving school and although I had experienced a huge buzz writing it, I’d taken a year and a half to get to Chapter 9 and then stalled. Was it any good? Did I even know what I was doing? Could I actually write a whole novel? After uttering once too often, ‘but how do I know if I can actually do this?’, my husband found The Writers’ Workshop and told me to go and find out. A few weeks later, I had a report back from Harry. The gist: yes, you can do this, and here are all the things you need to learn about writing. That was June 2005, and I haven’t stopped learning since – Arvon, reciprocal critiquing arrangements, constructive feedback from agents, self-editing, six Festivals of Writing, mentoring from outstanding Debi Alper, and always the ongoing support and encouragement from the team here. I spent many years on that original novel (writing, finishing, rewriting, editing, finishing again, rewriting, editing, finishing again), and I came very close with a number of agents, including one who read, offered feedback, and re-read several times over a period of three or four years, and my opening chapter was shortlisted at 2012’s Festival of Writing, but I never quite jumped the agent hurdle. I decided to put the novel in the drawer and move on. I’d been writing and rewriting it for nine years and was desperate for a change. I started a second children’s novel and rediscovered that buzz of fresh, no-idea-where-it’s-going writing. But fitting it in around two children and an increasingly demanding job meant progress was slow and I struggled with motivation. I dabbled in other bits and pieces, never settling on anything, but I started to write short stories and flash fiction in different styles and voices, and quite a step away from the children’s fiction where I felt comfortable. In 2013, several things happened to dramatically change my direction and fire my motivation. Firstly, I moved jobs to one that was far more creative, allowing me to focus on my passion for music and step back from time-consuming paperwork. Secondly, my youngest son started preschool freeing up a precious few daytime hours in which to write. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, Stories for Homes happened. Debi and her friend, Sally Swingewood, decided they wanted to create an anthology of short stories and poems on a theme of ‘home’ to raise money for Shelter. Debi asked for submissions of stories, techy help, proofreading and so on. I was determined to make progress on my children’s novel and I had no story ideas, so I replied to say that I would help where I could but doubted it would be in story form. However, just before the story deadline, I read Claire King’s The Night Rainbow, a wonderful, inspiring novel written from the POV of a five-year-old girl. (Read it!) Its themes are not about homelessness, but it sparked a thought – what does homelessness look like, feel like, smell like to a young child? And there was Jesika with her hands on her hips and that look she gets on her face when an adult is being really silly, wondering out loud why it took me for ages to notice her. I wrote and edited Jesika’s story in a week and sent it to Debi and Sally just in time for the deadline. They loved it. They made it the first story in the book. The book was filled with sixty or so other fantastic stories and poems and the book went on sale and raised over £2,000 for Shelter. (It’s still on sale, still raising money for Shelter.) I was very proud to be a small part of the overall project and when the excitement died down, I returned to the children’s novel. Except Jesika had other ideas. She wouldn’t leave me alone. I realised that one short story was not going to satisfy her. I’ve spent the last three years writing, rewriting and editing Jesika’s novel. In that time, Debi has continued to mentor me and I’ve been to four Festivals, each time taking a little bit of Jesika’s story with me for my one-to-ones. In 2013, all three agents told me they loved the voice, and they’d love to see more. (I wasn’t finished, so made a note of their names). In 2014, I saw two more agents who loved the voice, but weren’t convinced I could sustain it (and I still hadn’t finished it, so I couldn’t prove them wrong). However, that year I also went to a workshop run by Shelley Harris and because of a piece of writing I scribbled for one of her tasks, she introduced me to her agent, Jo Unwin, and we talked about the novel and she gave me encouragement to continue. In early 2015, I finished the first draft and started rewriting. In 2015, I submitted to Jo as one of my one-to-ones. She loved it and wanted to see more, and then after the festival, one of the agents I saw in 2013 asked to see the first chapter. She also loved it and wanted to see more, but the rewrite wasn’t finished. It took me a year to finish – during an emotionally challenging year and with enormous help from Debi’s editorial genius – and just before the 2016 festival, I was ready to submit again. I had two agent one-to-ones arranged and I emailed Jo Unwin and the other agent to ask if they wanted to see it, too. I assumed that nothing much would happen for a few months, and then I’d look at any feedback I got from the agents and talk to Debi about further rewrites. What did happen was I ended up with four agents reading the full manuscript, two making me an offer of representation, one taking me out for lunch and me having a choice to make – all in the space of three and a half weeks! I’m delighted to say (and still pinching myself when I say it) that I chose Jo Unwin. I know that this is one more hurdle in a series of hurdles and who knows what comes next, but I’m very excited to have arrived at a place I’ve been working towards for so long and so grateful for the day my husband handed me The Writers’ Workshop info and told me to get on with it. I stepped through a door that day that led me to so many fantastic opportunities, wonderful people and great friends – and I am the writer I am today because of them. Back in 2007, Harry posted about me on a now-dead blog to congratulate me on that initial success of finding an agent who believed enough in my first novel to offer feedback and ask to read it again. He acknowledged there were no guarantees that it would lead to representation but he said, ‘I bet Mandy makes it though. And I bet she sells well when she does. Certainly hope so.’ I printed that blog off and pinned it up to remind me to keep going, and I did keep going. Thank you, Harry. And thank you to everyone else along the way who believed I could do this. Lastly, incredibly, one of the many agents who rejected my children’s novel five years ago is the agent I’m now signed with as my book heads to publication with Doubleday. My advice: be rejected, crawl away and weep in a corner, look at feedback, eat chocolate, learn, re-read feedback, swear, try new things, get involved with other writers, allow your writing to be critiqued, learn more, delete, rewrite, edit, throw the whole lot in the bin for a day – but never give up!
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How to get a US agent for your crime thriller

There’s a common misconception that if you’re a crime or thriller writer you need an agent who focuses solely on those genres. But agents typically have eclectic tastes and like to diversify their list. If you go to a leading crime agent, you may just become one in a number of crime authors. But, if you find an agent who appeals to you and whose client list is a little light on crime titles, then your book could be just what they’re looking for. US Crime And Thriller Agents There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles. After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s a few crime/thriller agents to get you started: Jessica Alvarez Amelia Appel Noah Ballard Rachel Beck  Danielle Egan-Miller  Donald Mass  Evan Marshall  Kiana Nguyen Joy Tutela Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  How To Target Submissions It’s important that you find an agent that is interested in representing crime or thriller novels. A little targeting of potential agents is fine, as long as you don’t overdo it. There are two things that we always advise querying authors to consider, when they’re searching for agents:  Check who represents your favourite author. Even if your favourite author writes women’s fiction or literary fiction, you may find that you and the agent share a taste for a certain kind of writing and have something in common. Research agents that represent good but lesser known authors in your genre. If you were to query Dan Brown’s agent, for instance, that would certainly be a waste of time as his desk would undoubtedly be covered in various conspiracy-thriller-manuscripts. Whereas, if you find a pool of talented thriller authors that haven’t yet hit the big time, those agents are more likely to be open to seeing submissions from querying authors.  If you’re still convinced that the only way to publication is through a Very Well-Known Agent, then have a think about this:  The Very Well-Known Agent will have a long list of Big-Name clients (sometimes over a hundred!). Do you want to be the least important on that list? A Very Well-Known Agent may not be looking for debut writers at all. Any additions to their client list will likely be established authors moving agencies. Selling a book to a publisher, isn’t rocket science. If the agent is competent and can sell a literary novel, for example, then they have all the skills to sell any other genre too. If an agent’s contacts are weak in one area, then after a few phone calls that’s easily rectified. The exception being fantasy or science fiction and children’s fiction; both markets are pretty specialist. Publishers want to find wonderful, saleable books. They won’t care who the agent is that submits it to them. All that matters is that a) the editor loves the manuscript, and b) enough other people in the company love it, too. Ultimately, all that really matters is your writing.  You can read up on more tips for crime and thriller writing, here. If you’re writing a police procedural crime novel, then this article on researching those procedures is everything you need to read today! 
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US agents for popular science

Looking for an agent that represents popular science non-fiction work? Then look no further, we answer all your questions here. Plus, we’ll even introduce a few agents you should query! There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started:  Jessica Alvarez   Danielle Egan-Miller Regina Brooks  Annie Hwang Jody Kahn  Adam Schear Frank Weimann  Cindy Uh Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  The Market Authors of popular science and psychology are more popular than ever. Stephen Hawking, Oliver Sacks and Michio Kaku, to name a few.   Regardless of the ebook revolution and its impact on the publishing market, it remains the case that for countless areas of the book trade that traditional publishers still dominate. Your most likely route to those publishers will be via literary agents.  It’s important to remember that no agents only specialise in popular science. Your agent is likely to represent a range of areas including serious and topical non-fiction, fiction, as well as other lighter non-fiction subjects, too. This doesn’t mean that your agent won’t have the necessary connections. He or she will have them and will be motivated to place your work in the best (and most lucrative) place possible.  Best of luck! 
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US agents for food & cookery books

The food and cookery market remains a dependable corner of the book market. Agents Representing Food And Cookery Books There are plenty of cookery-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  Rica Allannic  Jennifer Chen Tran  Mark Gottlieb  Sandy Lu Amanda Jain   Deborah Schneider Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! THE MARKET This is an area dominated by full-colour, hard-copy books. The ebook revolution has done little to change the basic market. Which is good news.  The bad news is that this means the market dynamics are very challenging for debut authors in this area. A sure-fire way to get a cookbook published is to have a TV show first. Or a column in a national newspaper. Or, you’re a celebrity. But for ordinary cookery writers, it is hard to get published. It’s hard to get publishers interested enough to invest in a book, not only because the high production quality means that a book needs to shift a lot of copies to break into profit.  There are still opportunities for new debut writers. Especially if you are an expert in an under-explored area of food and drink. 
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UK Literary Agents, the Complete List (with Links to Agent Profiles)

Includes all literary agents currently active in the UK. Literary agents are the gatekeepers, right? The people who stand between you and admittance to the Promised Land of traditional publishing. Well, in a way, yes. No large publisher takes work seriously unless it comes to them via a literary agent, so you do need that seal of approval . . . But even before you get to the happy stage of fretting about all that, there’s one more issue on your mind. How do I even know which UK Literary agents to pitch to? And additionally: How can I even find a list of UK literary agents accepting submissions from new writers? Well, we have the answers to both questions. You should probably read everything in this blog post, because you’ll find it helpful. But if all you want to do is skip straight down to our list of agents, you can do so here: Jump Straight to List of Agents If you actually want a list of US literary agents, then you need to be here instead. Literary Agents: All You Need To Know Agents sell manuscripts to publishersAll the agents in the UK are listed on this pageYou need to shortlist 10-12 agentsWrite a synopsisWrite a query letterSubmit your work to your shortlisted agentKeep your fingers crossed How Do I Know Which Literary Agents To Approach? My granny once gave me some great advice on gardening. She said, “Always grow plants that you like, and that like you back.” So don’t go planting clematis if you don’t like clematis. And if you do like clematis, but those darn things keep dying on you, then just move on. Plant something different. Good rule, right? And it applies to literary agencies and UK literary agents too. We’ll start with the first part of Granny’s Rule: Find The UK Literary Agents Who Want You You need to approach literary agents who are keen to hear from people like you. It’s pointless wasting your energy on the rest. That means you want UK literary agents who: Are open to submissions in your genre.Either welcome submissions from new writers or are, at least, open to great new slushpile submissions. So if, for example, you’re a crime writer, and a literary agent is open to submissions from crime writers, and if that agent welcomes slushpile submissions, then you need to pop that literary agent on your longlist. That’s a good start, but agents aren’t very specialist and in most cases, your longlist will be something like 100+ names long. Yikes! The second half of Granny’s Rule enables you to reduce that total to something manageable. Here’s how it works: Finding The UK Literary Agents You Want Take your longlist and pick out any UK literary agents that you especially like the sound of: Maybe they represent some of your favourite authors in your genre.Or they represent a favourite author in a different genre, even.Or they don’t represent a particular favourite writer of yours, but they have commented admiringly on that author.You have particular reason to like or admire the agent’s literary agency.They share a passion of yours. (For example, your book is in part about Greece, and you notice this agent has Greek ancestry, or runs writing retreats in Greece, or represents books about the country, etc)They made a comment in a blog / on YouTube / at our Festival of Writing / or anywhere else . . . and for whatever reason that comment struck a chord in you.And it’s OK if your reason is dumb. Maybe you like an agent’s face! Or you think their name sounds cute (which is how JK Rowling came across her first literary agent, Christopher Little.) Really, you’re just looking for points of contact that make sense given your (relatively scant) information resources. You are looking for about 12 names in total. (Oh, and this page isn’t a complete guide to getting an agent. You can get that here. You can get help on your query letter here, and your synopsis here. You can get an overview of all your options on how to get published right here if you need it. Phew!) Ways Not To Search For UK Literary Agents There are two common ways to search for literary agents and neither of them are smart. Dumb agent search method #1Send your stuff only to the industry’s most high-profile UK literary agents OK, if you happen to be called Ms Meghan Markle and you have an autobiography to sell, this would be a great strategy. For anyone else? It’s dumb. The highest profile agents have the glossiest client lists. That means (a) they probably won’t take you on, (b) they probably won’t even read your work, and (c) even if they did they would have a lot less time for you than a newer, hungrier agent would. Why would you want that person? Answer: you don’t. Dumb agent search method #2Only apply to UK literary agents close to where you live If you live in central London or New York, that’s a perfectly fine approach. If you live anywhere else, it’s dumb. Agents cluster in major cities because that’s where the publishers are. You do need your agent to be in constant touch with publishers. You do not need your agent to physically meet you often. Quite honestly? Once a year would be fine – and you’ll be in town least that often to see your publishers. Literary Agents: The Complete UK List Want Access To All The Data? Want To Unlock Those Search Tools? The list below is a complete list of UK literary agents. If you follow the links, you’ll find profile summaries for each agent – but the full data will remain locked. To get complete access, just go here and sign up for your free account. It’s fast, secure and free. Sheila AblemanStephanie AdamMichael AlcockClare AlexanderJulian AlexanderDarley AndersonNelle AndrewDavinia Andrew LynchSusan ArmstrongFrances ArnoldIsabel AthertonBecky BagnellLisa BakerSarah BallardKate BarkerNicola BarrTim BatesVeronique BaxterDiana BeaumontEddie BellJune BellLorella BelliMichael BerentiJohn BerlyneFranca BernataviciusTina BettsVictoria BirkettNeil BlairPiers BlofeldFelicity BluntLuigi BonomiGeorgie BouzSuzie BrearleyJanice BrentPhilippa BrewsterCharlie BrotherstoneJenny BrownFelicity BryanLouise BuckleyPeter BuckmanKate BurkeLouise BurnsJuliet BurtonSteve CalcuttRachel CalderCharlie CampbellGeorgina CapelAmber CaraveoMegan CarrollRebecca CarterRobert CaskieJames CatchpoleSarah ChalfantNiki ChangJennifer ChapmanKathy CharvinMic CheethamCatherine ChoTeresa ChrisJennifer ChristieJulia ChurchillBen ClarkCatherine ClarkeAnne ClarkeMary ClemmeyAlexander CochranGill ColeridgeCharlotte ColwillClaire ConradKevin Conroy ScottClare ConvilleRachel ConwayJonathan ConwayJane Conway GordonGeraldine CookeElinor CooperGemma CooperSam CopelandJamie CowenPeter CoxNemonie Craven RoderickJulie CrispAnnette CrosslandSheila CrowleyCaroline DavidsonStephen DaviesMeg DavisAnna DavisCaroline DawnayShruti DebiHilary DelamereCaspian DennisJoanna DevereuxElla Diamond KahnElise DillsworthRob DinsdaleIsobel DixonBroo DohertyAnne Marie DoultonIan DruryRobert DudleyToby EadyRos EdwardsStephen EdwardsDarren EdwardsJon ElekBill EllisAnn EvansFaith EvansLisa EveleighNatasha FairweatherAriella FeinerPaul FeldsteinSusan FeldsteinHannah FergusonJulie FergussonSamantha FerrisJane FiniganEmma FinnPeter FischerJemima ForresterChelsey FoxWill FrancisLindsey FraserJulian FriedmannHelenka FuglewiczEugenie FurnissJuri GabrielNatalie GalustianLeslie GardnerGeorgia GarrettAdam GauntlettJonny GellerJames GillKerry GlencorseStephanie GlencrossGeorgia GloverDavid GodwinAnthony GoffBill GoodallAndrew GordonSophie Gorell BarnesJane Graham MawAnnette GreenChristine GreenVivien GreenLouise GreenbergKatie GreenstreetJane GregoryDavid GrossmanOlivia GuestMarianne Gunn O ConnorAllan GuthrieCassian HallMargaret HaltonMatthew HamiltonBill HamiltonSamar HammamMargaret HanburyCaroline HardmanAnthony HarwoodJohn HavergalDavid HavilandJosephine HayesDavid HeadleyRupert HeathCarol HeatonAndrew HewsonJenny HewsonSophie HicksVictoria HobbsJodie HodgesHeather Holden BrownSally HollowayPenny HolroydeVanessa HoltKate HordernValerie HoskinsCharlotte HowardTanja HowarthClare HultonBen IllisBarrie JamesKaren JamesPeter Janson SmithJohn JarroldCara JonesRobin JonesLucy JuckesJane JuddCarrie KaniaSimon KavanaghMariam KeenFrances KellyMolly Ker HawnCaradoc KingZoe KingRobert KirbyPeter KnightAndrew KnightLizzy KremerLaurence LaluyauxSophie LambertLouise LamontSonia LandRowan LawtonPippa Le QuesneSusanna LeaCat LedgerBarbara LevyFiona LindsayChristopher LittleMandy LittleJonathan LloydPat LomaxLaura LongriggAndrew LownieMark LucasLucy LuckJennifer LuithlenPenny LuithlenNicky LundSarah LutyensAlice LutyensDavid LuxtonAngus MacDonaldLaura MacDougallJames Macdonald LockhartSarah ManningSarah MansonMatthew MarlandSylvie MarstonJoanna MarstonGaby MartinBlanche MarvinDuncan McAraKirsty McLachlanGill McLayEunice McMullenAnnabel MerulloCaroline MichelMadeleine MilburnNancy MilesRachel MillsPhilippa Milnes SmithAmy MitchellSilvia MolteniDoreen MontgomeryCaroline MontgomeryPaul MoretonJoanna MoultLisa MoylettIvan MulcahyToby MundyOliver MunsonJudith MurrayJuliet MushensJean NaggarKate NashRuth NeedhamGeraldine NicholPeta NightingalePolly NolanAndrew NurnbergFaith OGradyHellie OgdenGabriele PantucciEmma PatersonPhilip PattersonJohn PawseyTony PeakeMaggie PearlstineClare PearsonJonathan PeggImogen PelhamCatherine PellegrinoNorah PerkinsFiona PetheramJuliet PickeringRichard PikeCarrie PlittKevin PocklingtonLesley PollingerAnna PowerShelley PowerAmanda PrestonLiz PuttickAoife RiceDavid RidingRebecca RitchiePeter RobinsonGuy RoseKathryn RossZoe RossStephanie RoundsmithElizabeth RoyFelicity RubinsteinGeorgina RuffheadJonathan RuppinUli Rushby SmithGillie RussellLaetitia RutherfordJohn SaddlerDarryl SamaraweeraRosemary SandbergAlice SaundersJenny SavillMarilia SavvidesSandra SawickaVivienne SchusterRosemary ScoularRichard ScrivenerMike SharlandLinda ShaughnessyKate ShawElizabeth SheinkmanCaroline SheldonHannah SheppardCamilla ShestopalJulia SilkDorie SimmondsJeffrey SimmonsChristopher Sinclair StevensonDeborah Sinclair StevensonMichael SissonsPhilippa SittersDavid SmithSusan SmithRobert SmithYasmin StandenMark StantonElaine SteelRochelle StevensShirley StewartPeter StrausSarah SuchMandy SuhrAlex SullivanCathryn SummerhayesLaura SusijnAlice Sutherland-HawesKarolina SuttonJoanna SwainsonSallyanne SweeneyPeter TallackBecky ThomasLesley ThorneEuan ThorneycroftJon ThurleyStephanie ThwaitesAntony ToppingLavinia TrevorFelicity TrewSimon TrewinJane TurnbullDiana TylerJo UnwinGilly VincentCharlie VineyRobin WadeAmy WaiteZoë WaldieCharles WalkerClare WallacePatrick WalshCaroline WalshRebecca WatsonAnna WebberChris WellbeloveRosie WelshLaura WestIsabel WhitePat WhiteEve WhiteAraminta WhitleyDinah WienerVicki Willden LebrechtAlice WilliamsAnne WilliamsLaura WilliamsSarah WilliamsJo WilliamsonJane WillisJames WillsEd WilsonClaire WilsonDonald WinchesterRebecca WinfieldGordon WiseRomily WithingtonCaroline WoodBryony WoodsJessica WoollardCamilla WrayAndrew WylieSusan YearwoodClaudia YoungGeorgia de ChamberetJonathan sissons
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If an agent accepts your work, what are chances of getting published?

Includes all literary agents currently active in the UK. Literary agents are the gatekeepers, right? The people who stand between you and admittance to the Promised Land of traditional publishing. Well, in a way, yes. No large publisher takes work seriously unless it comes to them via a literary agent, so you do need that seal of approval . . . But even before you get to the happy stage of fretting about all that, there’s one more issue on your mind. How do I even know which agents to pitch to? And additionally: How can I even find a list of UK literary agents currently accepting work from new writers? Well, we have the answers to both questions. You should probably read everything in this blog post, because you’ll find it helpful. But if all you want to do is skip straight down to our list of agents, you can do so here: Jump Straight to List of Agents If you actually want a list of US literary agents, then you need to be here instead. Literary Agents: All You Need To Know Agents sell manuscripts to publishersAll the agents in the UK are listed on this pageYou need to shortlist 10-12 agentsWrite a synopsisWrite a query letterSubmit your work to your shortlisted agentKeep your fingers crossed HOW DO I KNOW WHICH LITERARY AGENTS TO APPROACH? My granny once gave me some great advice on gardening. She said, “Always grow plants that you like, and that like you back.” So don’t go planting clematis if you don’t like clematis. And if you do like clematis, but those darn things keep dying on you, then just move on. Plant something different. Good rule, right? And it applies to literary agencies and literary agents too. We’ll start with the first part of Granny’s Rule: FIND THE AGENTS WHO WANT YOU You need to approach literary agents who are keen to hear from people like you. It’s pointless wasting your energy on the rest. That means you want literary agents who: Are open to submissions in your genre.Either welcome submissions from new writers or are, at least, open to great new slushpile submissions. So if, for example, you’re a crime writer, and an agent is open to submissions from crime writers, and if that agent welcomes slushpile submissions, then you need to pop that agent on your longlist. That’s a good start, but agents aren’t very specialist and in most cases, your longlist will be something like 100+ names long. Yikes! The second half of Granny’s Rule enables you to reduce that total to something manageable. Here’s how it works: Finding The Agents You Want Take your longlist and pick out any literary agents that you especially like the sound of: Maybe they represent some of your favourite authors in your genre.Or they represent a favourite author in a different genre, even.Or they don’t represent a particular favourite writer of yours, but they have commented admiringly on that author.You have particular reason to like or admire the agent’s literary agency.They share a passion of yours. (For example, your book is in part about Greece, and you notice this agent has Greek ancestry, or runs writing retreats in Greece, or represents books about the country, etc)They made a comment in a blog / on YouTube / at our Festival of Writing / or anywhere else . . . and for whatever reason that comment struck a chord in you.And it’s OK if your reason is dumb. Maybe you like an agent’s face! Or you think their name sounds cute (which is how JK Rowling came across her first literary agent, Christopher Little.) Really, you’re just looking for points of contact that make sense given your (relatively scant) information resources. You are looking for about 12 names in total. (Oh, and this page isn’t a complete guide to getting an agent. You can get that here. You can get help on your query letter here, and your synopsis here. You can get an overview of all your options on how to get published right here if you need it. Phew!) Ways Not To Search For Agents There are two common ways to search for literary agents and neither of them are smart. Dumb agent search method #1Send your stuff only to the industry’s most high-profile literary agents OK, if you happen to be called Ms Meghan Markle and you have an autobiography to sell, this would be a great strategy. For anyone else? It’s dumb. The highest profile agents have the glossiest client lists. That means (a) they probably won’t take you on, (b) they probably won’t even read your work, and (c) even if they did they would have a lot less time for you than a newer, hungrier agent would. Why would you want that person? Answer: you don’t. Dumb agent search method #2Only apply to literary agents close to where you live If you live in central London or New York, that’s a perfectly fine approach. If you live anywhere else, it’s dumb. Agents cluster in major cities because that’s where the publishers are. You do need your agent to be in constant touch with publishers. You do not need your agent to physically meet you often. Quite honestly? Once a year would be fine – and you’ll be in town least that often to see your publishers. Literary Agents: The Complete Uk List WANT ACCESS TO ALL THE DATA? WANT TO UNLOCK THOSE SEARCH TOOLS? The list below is a complete list of UK agents. If you follow the links, you’ll find profile summaries for each agent – but the full data will remain locked. To get complete access, just go here and sign up for your free account. It’s fast, secure and free. Sheila AblemanStephanie AdamMichael AlcockClare AlexanderJulian AlexanderDarley AndersonNelle AndrewDavinia Andrew LynchSusan ArmstrongFrances ArnoldIsabel AthertonBecky BagnellLisa BakerSarah BallardKate BarkerNicola BarrTim BatesVeronique BaxterDiana BeaumontEddie BellJune BellLorella BelliMichael BerentiJohn BerlyneFranca BernataviciusTina BettsVictoria BirkettNeil BlairPiers BlofeldFelicity BluntLuigi BonomiGeorgie BouzSuzie BrearleyJanice BrentPhilippa BrewsterCharlie BrotherstoneJenny BrownFelicity BryanLouise BuckleyPeter BuckmanKate BurkeLouise BurnsJuliet BurtonSteve CalcuttRachel CalderCharlie CampbellGeorgina CapelAmber CaraveoMegan CarrollRebecca CarterRobert CaskieJames CatchpoleSarah ChalfantNiki ChangJennifer ChapmanKathy CharvinMic CheethamCatherine ChoTeresa ChrisJennifer ChristieJulia ChurchillBen ClarkCatherine ClarkeAnne ClarkeMary ClemmeyAlexander CochranGill ColeridgeCharlotte ColwillClaire ConradKevin Conroy ScottClare ConvilleRachel ConwayJonathan ConwayJane Conway GordonGeraldine CookeElinor CooperGemma CooperSam CopelandJamie CowenPeter CoxNemonie Craven RoderickJulie CrispAnnette CrosslandSheila CrowleyCaroline DavidsonStephen DaviesMeg DavisAnna DavisCaroline DawnayShruti DebiHilary DelamereCaspian DennisJoanna DevereuxElla Diamond KahnElise DillsworthRob DinsdaleIsobel DixonBroo DohertyAnne Marie DoultonIan DruryRobert DudleyToby EadyRos EdwardsStephen EdwardsDarren EdwardsJon ElekBill EllisAnn EvansFaith EvansLisa EveleighNatasha FairweatherAriella FeinerPaul FeldsteinSusan FeldsteinHannah FergusonJulie FergussonSamantha FerrisJane FiniganEmma FinnPeter FischerJemima ForresterChelsey FoxWill FrancisLindsey FraserJulian FriedmannHelenka FuglewiczEugenie FurnissJuri GabrielNatalie GalustianLeslie GardnerGeorgia GarrettAdam GauntlettJonny GellerJames GillKerry GlencorseStephanie GlencrossGeorgia GloverDavid GodwinAnthony GoffBill GoodallAndrew GordonSophie Gorell BarnesJane Graham MawAnnette GreenChristine GreenVivien GreenLouise GreenbergKatie GreenstreetJane GregoryDavid GrossmanOlivia GuestMarianne Gunn O ConnorAllan GuthrieCassian HallMargaret HaltonMatthew HamiltonBill HamiltonSamar HammamMargaret HanburyCaroline HardmanAnthony HarwoodJohn HavergalDavid HavilandJosephine HayesDavid HeadleyRupert HeathCarol HeatonAndrew HewsonJenny HewsonSophie HicksVictoria HobbsJodie HodgesHeather Holden BrownSally HollowayPenny HolroydeVanessa HoltKate HordernValerie HoskinsCharlotte HowardTanja HowarthClare HultonBen IllisBarrie JamesKaren JamesPeter Janson SmithJohn Jarrold</
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Literary Agents For Paranormal Romances

All stories share a simple common structure, right? So the simplest way to outline your novel (or any type of story) is to use that universal template by way of scaffolding. And you do need to use some kind of novel outline before you start writing. Plotting a novel from scratch? Imagining the whole thing in your head before you start? That’s hard. Or, scratch that, it’s pretty much impossible. So don’t do it. Cheat. Use a simple, dependable template to build an outline of your novel, then slowly fill out the detail. Yes, filling in the detail can be a slow and tricky process. But you don’t care. Because if your basic outline is strong (and the idea that lies behind it is strong), you can’t really go wrong. And figuring out that template and how best to use it is exactly what we’re going to do in this post. (Or – full disclosure – it’s what you’re going to do. We’ll just help a little on the way . . .) Novel Outline Template In A Nutshell You just need to figure out: Main character (who leads the story)Status Quo (situation at the start)Motivation (what your character wants)Initiating incident (what disturbs the status quo)Developments (what happens next)Crisis (how things come to a head)Resolution (how things resolve) What A Story Template Looks Like Use a simple plot outline to get your ideas straight Let’s start simple. And that means, yep, that YOU need to start simple. Get a sheet of paper or notebook and have it by you as you work your way through this post. Ready? Pencil sharp and ready to go? So do this: Write down the following headings: Main characters Status Quo Motivation Initiating Incident Developments Crisis Resolution Simple right? And now sketch in your answers in as few words as possible. That means a maximum of 1-2 sentence for each heading there. If that seems a little harsh, then I’ll allow you 3 sentences for the “Developments” section: that’s where the bulk of your book is going to lie. But that’s all. At this stage, we don’t want complex. Complex is our enemy. We’ll get there soon enough, but for now just think, Structure-structure-structure. Too much complexity – all that intricate plot detail – just gets in the way of finding the actual bones of your novel. (Oh, and I don’t want to digress too much, but that same basic template works if you want to build a scene, or write a synopsis, or structure a key piece of dialogue. In fact, it’s just like this universal unlocking device for pretty much any structural challenge in fiction. Good to know, huh?) The Novel Template: An Example You probably want an example of what your outline should look like, right? OK. So let’s say your name was Jane Austen and you had a great idea for a story about a prideful guy and a charming but somewhat prejudiced girl. Your story outline might look something like this: CharacterElizabeth (Lizzy) Bennet, one of five daughters in Regency England. Status QuoLizzy and her sisters will be plunged into poverty if her father dies, so they need to marry (and marry well) MotivationLizzy wants to marry for love. Initiating IncidentTwo wealthy gentlemen, Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy, arrive. DevelopmentsLizzy meets proud Mr Darcy and dashing stranger Mr Wickham. She despises Mr Darcy and likes Mr Wickham. She discovers Darcy loves her and that Wickham isn’t all he seems. CrisisLizzy’s sister elopes, threatening the social ruin of her family. It now looks like Lizzy can’t marry anyone. ResolutionMr Darcy helps Lizzy’s sister. Lizzy agrees to marry him, deciding now that she loves him, after all. Now that’s easy, right? That’s the whole of Pride and Prejudice in a nutshell, and it was easy. You just need to do the same with your book or your idea, and keep it really simple. In fact, if you struggle to know everything that goes in the ‘developments’ section, you can even drop in some placeholder type comments. If you were Jane Austen you might, for example, start out by saying something like “Lizzy breaks with Wickham, because it turns out he’s a bad guy. He killed someone? Stole money? Something else? Something to think about.” And that’s fine. Don’t worry about any blanks. It’s like you’re building a tower and you’re missing one of the girders. But by getting everything else in place and putting a “girder needs to go here” sign up, the structure is still brilliantly clear. That’s all you need (for now.) Oh, and don’t bother separating those down into chapters just yet, you can worry about that later – but when you do, read this, it’s really useful! Finally, don’t complicate things if you don’t want to, but if you find it helpful to add a “character development” heading, then you should do that as well. Effectively, you’re extending your novel outline template to cover not just plot movements, but character development too – a brilliant all-in-one tool. Developing Your Story Outline Taking your template on to the next level Now, OK, you might feel that our template so far is just a little too basic. Which it is. So let’s develop the structure another notch, and what we’re going to do now is to add in anything we know about subplots – or basically any story action that you DO know about, which doesn’t fit neatly into the above plot structure. So if you were Jane Austen, and had a good handle on your story, you might put together something like this. (Oh, and we’ve called them sub-plots, but you can call them story strands, or story elements, or anything that feels right to you.) Subplot 1Jane Bennet (Lizzy’s caring sister) and Mr Bingley fall in love, but Bingley moves away, then comes back. Jane and Bingley marry. Subplot 2Lydia Bennet (Lizzy’s reckless sister) elopes with Wickham. She is later found and helped by Darcy. Subplot 3Odious Mr Collins proposes marriage to Lizzy. She says no. Her more pragmatic friend, Charlotte Lucas, says yes. Notice that we’re not yet trying to mesh those things together. In fact, the way we’ve done it here Subplot 3 (which happens in the middle of the book) comes after Subplot 2 (which comes at the end). But again: don’t worry. Sketch your additional story material down as swiftly as neatly as Miss Austen has just done it. The meshing together – the whole business of getting things in the right order, getting the character motivations perfectly aligned and all that – that’ll do your brain in. Yes, you have to get to it at some stage. But not now. Keep it simple, and build up. And that actually brings us to another point. How To Use Subplots If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice, you’ll know perfectly well that our outline so far still misses out masses of stuff. There’s nothing on where the novel is set. Or why or how events unfurl. It doesn’t say a thing about character relations, why each feels as they do. There’s nothing to say on character development, subtleties, supporting cast, and so on. And that’s fine to start with. It’s actually good. What does matter, however is your character’s motivation. Taking one subplot above as example, Charlotte wants security through marriage to Mr Collins. Lizzy, however, rejects her friend’s rationale. Charlotte’s marriage reaffirms Lizzy’s romantic values and, crucially, also throws her in Mr Darcy’s way again later in the book. Now that’s interesting stuff, but if a subplot doesn’t bear on a protagonist’s ability to achieve their goal or goals, that subplot must be deleted or revised. Luckily, though, our story structure template helps you avoid that pitfall in the first place. In fact, here are two rules that you should obey religiously: If you’re outlining a plot for the first time. Pin down your basics, then build up subplots and so on.If you have already started your manuscript and you think you’re uncertain of your plot structure, stop – and follow the exercises in this post, exactly as you would if you hadn’t yet written a word. And do actually do this. As in pen-and-paper do it, not just “think about it for a minute or two then go on Twitter.” The act of writing things out will be helpful just in itself. The act of writing always is. Plotting Your Novel: The Template Remember as well that every subplot (or story strand, or whatever you want to call them) has its own little journey. Maybe a very simple one, but it’ll have its own beginning, middle and end. Its own structure of Initiating Incident / Developments / Crisis / Resolution. So you may as well drop everything you have into the grid below. (If you want to adapt that grid a little, then do, but don’t mess around with it toooo much. The basic idea there is golden.) Main PlotSubplot 1Subplot 2Subplot 3Initiating IncidentMAIN PLOTCRISISRESOLUTION If you’ve got more complexity to accommodate than this allows, take care. No matter how sprawling an epic you’re writing, you need to be able to identify the essence or heart of the story you’re writing, so try paring your novel down – you can always add more details and columns after. What would your story look like, if you did this? How To Further Develop Your Plot Outline Advanced techniques for writing ninjas What happens if your plot doesn’t fit into that grid? If you give that exercise your very best go and just draw a blank? Well, no worries. The basic problems here are twofold: You don’t yet understand your plot well enough, orYou just don’t have enough plot to sustain a full-length novel. Two different problems. Two different solutions. If you don’t yet understand your own plot in enough detail, you want to use … Plot-building Tool: The Snowflake Method Seeing your own plot in detail, before you write the book, is really hard, because it’s like you’re standing on the seashore trying to jump onto Mount Everest. In one bound. Not gonna work. So get there in stages, Base Camp. Camp 1, and so on up. What that means for you, is that you use our basic template in sketch form to start with – a sentence or two per section. Then you go at it again, and give each section its own paragraph. Then you go at it again, expanding to 2-3 paragraphs, or whole pages if you want to. The same basic exercise, but getting into deeper levels of detail each time. If you want more about the “snowflake” approach you can find it right here. OK. But what if your plot outline just feels a little bit thin once you sketch it out? Answer you fix it – and you fix it NOW before you start hurtling into the task of actually writing. Here are the techniques you’ll need to do just that: Method 1: Mirroring This doesn’t mean tack on needless bits and pieces – characters shouting at each other for effect, etc. – but add depth and subplots, developing the complexity of your protagonist’s story. (Remember: if it’s not contributing to your protagonist’s journey, it doesn’t matter and you need to delete it.) To take another novel – supposing your name is Harper Lee, and your story is the tale of a girl named Scout – let’s say Scout’s spooked by an odd but harmless man living on her street. It’s fine, though there’s not yet enough complexity yet to carry a novel, so complicate it. One thought is giving her a father figure, say a lawyer, named Atticus. (Harper Lee herself was daughter of a small-town lawyer.) He’s fighting to defend a man accused of something he obviously didn’t do. Targeted for who he is, rather than anything he’s done. A black guy accused for looking different? An odd-but-harmless guy who spooks Scout? It’s straightforward, tragic mirroring. Atticus’ fight is lost, the stories interweave, and Scout learns compassion in To Kill A Mockingbird. Introducing that second, reverberating plot strand meant that Harper Lee’s novel had the heft to become a classic of world literature. Method 2: Ram Your Genre Into Something Different Another way to complicate your plot is to throw action into a different genre – such as sci-fi, fantasy or crime. So take The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. Looked at one way, that’s a pretty much standard issue romantic story, which, yes, could have sold, but could never have made the huge sales it actually racked up. But then ram that into a story of time-travel, and you have something shimmeringly new and exciting. What you had was still a romantic story at its heart – it certainly wouldn’t appeal to hardcore fans of SF/fantasy – but the novel element gave it a totally new birth. Or take Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters. A picaresque Victorian historical novel . . . that kind of thing always had its audience – but that audience had never encountered a frankly told lesbian coming-of-age story in that context, and the result of that shock collision was to produce a literary sensation. Method 3: Take Your Character And Max Her Out Why was it that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo went on to get such gigantic sales across the globe? It wasn’t the quality of Stieg Larsson’s writing, which was never more than competent and which was quite baggy, to say the least. And the actual plot? Well, on the face of it, he delivered a fairly standard issue crime story. Nothing so unusual there in terms of actual narrative. But Stieg Larsson rammed that basic story with an exotic character: Lisbeth Salander. That woman had Aspergers, she was a bisexual computer hacker and rape survivor . . .and boom – vast worldwide sales resulted. Method 4: Add Edge – A Glint Of Steel A few years back, I was struggling with one of my books, This Thing of Darkness. (here) The basic plot was strong. The mystery element was good. There was at least one quite unusual element. The climax was rip-roaring (set on a trawler at sea in a force 10 gale.) But . . . The book wasn’t quite working. It was long. And it was just a long, long way from the set-up phase of the book to the denouement. My solution? A glint of steel. I took an incident from the middle of the book – a break-in, and a theft, but no violence, no real time action – and I turned that into a long sequence involving the abduction of my protagonist. That addition made a long book even longer . . . but it made the book. It’s not just that the sequence itself was exciting, it’s that its shadow extended over everything else too. Whereas before the book had felt a bit like, “yep, gotta solve the mystery, because that’s what these books have to do.” Now it was: “We HAVE TO solve that mystery, because these bastards abducted our protagonist.” Steel. Edge. Sex or violence. Those things work in crime novels , but they work in totally literary works too. Can you imagine Ian McEwan’s Atonement without that glint of sex? Would The Great Gatsby have worked if no one had died? How To Write A Plot From Multiple Perspectives If you’re eager to write about multiple protagonists, you need a plot outline, along the lines of the template above, for each one. George R.R. Martin took this to new levels in A Song of Ice and Fire, each protagonist having his or her own richly developed plot and character arc. John Fowles’ The Collector, for example, is narrated by a kidnapper and the girl he’s kidnapped. Sullen, menacing Fred justifies all he does. Miranda chronicles her fear and pity. The result is taut, terrifying. We’re engrossed in their shared experience to the end. Multiple protagonists can work in romance novels, too, even ones told in third-person narration, such as The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, or Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This said, managing multiple points of view, even from minor characters, can work well for thrillers, often driven by the drip-drip-drip of information release (though these things depend on story, as much as genre). The key thing to bear in mind here is that you need a mini version of your novel outline template for each of your main characters. Each one of those guys needs a complete little story of their own – and those little stories need to interweave to create one great and compelling one.
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Literary agents for horror

The vampire boom isn’t what it was, but the success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight created a prominent sub-genre in paranormal romance. That said, writers like Anne Rice have been around a long time and point to the genre’s longevity. The whole nexus of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and YA dark romance. It’s a genre tailor-made for the e-book generation and (not surprisingly) one that has spawned plenty of films and TV series. The entry criteria are threefold. One, you need good, clean, readable prose. Two, you need a twist on the basic genre that feels new and compelling. Three, you need a romance that will truly capture your audience’s heart. You can select by genre (e.g. paranormal romance) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. The site is designed to give users a good feel for the data and functionality for free, but the real riches of our site are available only to members. Become a member.
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How to write a novel synopsis (with an example)

Including a template for you to follow and a complete worked example When you approach literary agents, you will need to present them with a submission package that includes a query letter, a sample of your manuscript and, of course, a synopsis. The synopsis will need to look professional – that is, it wants to follow a proper synopsis format – and it needs to do its job, of convincing an agent that your story sounds exciting. That’s not actually hard to achieve, and this post will tell you exactly how to write a synopsis. We’ll reveal the two huge tricks that make your life easy . . . and give you an example synopsis too, so you can understand exactly how to put the rules into practice. Sounds good? Let’s jump right in. How To Write A Novel Synopsis A synopsis is a 500-800 word summary of your book that forms part of your agent submission pack. It should outline your plot in neutral non-salesy language and demonstrate a clear story arc. Every major plot twist, character, and any big turning point or climatic scene should get a mention. Definition: What Is A Synopsis? A synopsis is: A short summary of your story, in its entirety, from beginning to end, soup to nuts, nose to tail.Written in fairly neutral, non-salesy languageFollows the same broad structure as your novel. So if, for example, you have a novel with two intertwining time-strands, your synopsis would follow the order of events as presented in the novel. Your novel’s structure trumps any chronological issues.Probably about 500-800 words in length, but agents’ requirements differ, so do check against each agent’s submission requirements. From this definition, it also follows that: A synopsis is not like the text on the back jacket of a book. Those book blurbs are much shorter and normally offer only a teaser, rather than a full rundown of the book’s story.For the same reason, a novel synopsis is not the same as an Amazon-style book description. In fact, a synopsis is what you think it is. A 500-word long spoiler for your entire novel. Every major plot twist. Every major character. Any big turning point. Your big climactic scenes. They’re all there, briefly, succinctly and (yes) a little drily narrated. Oh yes: and some good news – If you can write a novel, then you can definitely write a synopsis. Writing a synopsis is a lot, lot easier than writing a whole damn novel, so don’t stress. You should be able to put together your synopsis in a morning – and still have time for a stroll before lunch. Purpose:What Is A Synopsis For? I just said that a synopsis is kinda dry – and it is. In fact, I doubt if anyone has ever enjoyed reading one. It’s just not that entertaining. So if it’s not for fun – why have it? Why do almost all literary agents ask for one? OK, so this is how it works: Most literary agents will look at your covering letter first, then turn to the manuscript. If they like the first three chapters, they’ll be thinking, “This looks great, but is it going to hold interest? Is it worth making that investment of time to read it all?” That’s where the synopsis comes in. Your synopsis is there to outline your plot and to demonstrate a clear story arc, a satisfying ending. It’s your tool to make someone read on. That’s why your synopsis needs to: Tell an agent directly and clearly what your plot is – it needs to give a clear picture of the narrative arc;Clearly identify your main characters – and at least hint at any major character development arcsMake clear what your hook, premise or elevator pitch is;Demonstrate implicitly its appeal and how plot momentum increases;Share an ending that feels satisfying. If your synopsis achieves all that – and your query letter and manuscript sample is up to scratch – the agent will ask you for the full manuscript. They can’t not. You’ve got them hooked. Synopsis:Length, Tone, Format A wonderful synopsis has the following ingredients: Length: about 500 words (but check agency requirements – they can be quite variable). There’s a lot of advice around suggesting that your synopsis should run to no more than one page. We think that’s on the low side. Most good synopses we see run to two nicely formatted pages (ie: reasonable line spacing, normal margins and a sensible font.)Language: Be business-like; clear, to the point, neutral. In particular, it’s fine to tell not show: this is a business document, not the novel itself.Presentation: Be well-presented with no typos or spelling mistakes. Use normal fonts, normal margins, and line spacing no narrower than 1.5. It’s fine if your synopsis runs to two pages, but (unless an agent specifically asks for more), don’t run to more than that.Character names: Put the names of main characters in bold or CAPS when you first introduce them. That makes the synopsis easier to navigate.Character thumbnails: as well as highlighting your characters names , you should give a swift resume of who they are, on first introduction. So for example: “James Bond, (38), a British agent – handsome, cruel, seductive, and high-living – …”. Note that you can insert age in brackets without having to say “he is thirty-eight years old.” Save that word count!Extra points: If you have a compelling way to ‘sell’ your story in 2-3 lines maximum, you could insert that little snippet up at the top of your synopsis.Third person presentation: Even if your novel is narrated in the first person, your synopsis should be written third person. So (to pick one of my own 1st person detective novels for example), I wouldn’t write “I am a police constable in South Wales …”, but rather, “Fiona Griffiths is a police constable, based in South Wales…” You can instantly see how much more professional that sounds, right?File name: Please don’t call your file synopsis.doc. That works fine for you on your computer – but the agent probably has 100 files from writers with that exact filename. So help the agent out. Your file should be in the format title-synopsis. So: farewell-to-arms-synopsis.doc, for example. And once again: tell the story. Your job is not to sell the book, write blurb, or anything else, just say what happens in the story. How To Write A Synopsis For Your Novel The two tricks that make your task ridiculously simple There are two big tricks in getting your synopsis right. They are: Trick The First Don’t take your massive 100,000 word manuscript and try to figure out how to cram all its rich complexity into a 500 word precis. It can’t be done. You’ll go crazy. Your synopsis will be terrible. Instead of going from your manuscript and boiling it down, you need to go from your structure and build up. That’s the trick. It works every time and it’s awesome. What’s your structure? It’s this: Status QuoInitiating IncidentDevelopmentsCrisisResolution Without looking at your manuscript, sketch out your plot using those headings in about 300 words. The ‘developments’ section obviously represents by far the largest portion of your novel, but it may not amount to more than 40-50% of your total word count here. That’s fine. Missing out excessive detail is exactly the point. It’s precisely what you’re trying to do. So do it, and don’t fret. Equally: don’t get into too much detail about character or settings or anything like that. Just focus on the exact plot mechanics for now. Want more help on this? Need help to understand this trick in action? Course you do: We’ve got a free Agent Submissions Builder which gives you a precise template for constructing your synopsis – and your query letter. You’ll have both synopsis and query letter written in a couple of hours tops – and they’ll be excellent ones as well. Get my Agent Submission Builder here. Second only to your novel, these are the most important documents you’ll ever write – so get them sorted fast, easily, and with excellence. You’ll be glad you did. Trick The Second The second trick is equally simple and equally effective. It’s this: Layer in information about who your characters are and how the events of the story impact them. Synopses can feel like rather cold and baffling documents. When they do (and assuming they’re decently written), it’s always because the writer has focused entirely on plot machinery and hasn’t said enough about why it matters to the characters. But we read books for the characters, so your synopsis has to engage with those emotional aspects too. Remember I gave you only 300 words for the actual plot machinery? The remaining 200 words are where you can express yourself with characters, emotions and character arcs. Example (Without Character / Emotion Language): “As BELLA walks into the class, a fan blows her scent towards a boy, named EDWARD CULLEN. Bella sits next to Edward in biology class on her first day of school. He disappears for a few days, but sees more of Bella upon his return. Bella is then nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot. Edward saves Bella, stopping the van with only his hand.”(Adapted from the Wikipedia synopsis of Twilight) Example (With Character / Emotion Language) “As BELLA walks into the class, a fan blows her scent towards a mysterious boy named EDWARD CULLEN. Bella sits next to Edward in biology class on her first day of school, but he seems repulsed by her, affecting her feelings in the process. He disappears for a few days, but warms up to Bella upon his return; their newfound relationship is interrupted after Bella is nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot. Edward saves Bella, stopping the van with only his hand.”(Source: as above) Do you see how much more engaging the second version is? Although the text remains quite dry, by including emotional / character-type language in its summary, we have some sense of the real, developing relationship. Short message: don’t focus so hard on plot mechanics that you forget to layer in emotion. Writing A Synopsis:Common Mistakes Here’s what not to do. Miss the agent’s word count by a mile. If an agent’s website gives you a particular word count to aim for, then deliver that, at least approximately. You may find you need a couple of different versions of the same documents, just because those blooming agents can’t cohere around one set word count. Jeepers. Those guys.Go into detail about setting: If you were writing a synopsis for a Jane Austen novel, for example, you might simply say: “This novel is set in a small village in Regency England.” You don’t need more.Go into vast detail about character: A few quick strokes are all that you need. (For example: “Ella, an experienced but overconfident assassin (36), …”)Be scrupulous about plot detail: It’s fine to skip subplots or ignore some finer details. The truth is, you won’t have time to include those things in a 500-word summary. Agents know that the synopsis is at best an approximation of the story.Hide the plot twist: A synopsis is the ultimate plot spoiler, opposite to a blurb, and your job is just to spill the beans, whether you like it or not.Start telling us about the novel. So, for example, don’t say, “Then the novel picks up the story of Kate and Jacob …”. Say: “Meanwhile, Kate and Jacob …”Cram in too many character names. Four or five is the maximum an agent wants to deal with. If you need to refer to other characters, just say, “the CIA agent” or “the beautiful doctor”.Forget to put your character names in CAPS or bold. Make it easy for the agent!Omit the title. Yes, we’ve seen synopses entitled “Synopsis”. Make sure you have both the title of your book and your name up at the top of your document. So your title line might read: A Farewell to Arms: Synopsis”, and beneath that in smaller text you’d have your name – maybe Ernest somebody-or-other.Use an unhelpful filename. Your document needs to be yourbooktitle-synopsis.doc.Write badly. Yes, a synopsis is a brisk, functional document, and you don’t need to write wonderfully. But you are still a writer trying to sell your work, so don’t allow yourself clumsy or badly expressed sentences.Fail to use our incredible Agent Submission Builder. These tools help you structure and write your synopsis and your query letter in a trice. Or even less than that – a dice. You can get them for free here. Watcha waitin’ for? If you’re not making those errors, you should be good to go. If you need help on getting your plot structure right in the first place, then check out these links: how to plot, more on using plot outlines, and how to apply the snowflake method to your story construction process. Synopsis: An Example Synopsis: An Example This is a synopsis example penned by one of our own clients, Tracy Gilpin. The synopsis (and the book) went on to wow an agent and secure a book deal. Synopsis Of Double Cross By Tracy Gilpin Dunai Marks discovers the strangled corpse of Siobhan Craig, an activist who is not only her employer but also a mother figure; Dunai had been abandoned at an orphanage as a baby. Siobhan was about to present to government the results of a controversial population control model for possible implementation at national level. Dunai believes this is the reason she was murdered. The investigating officer on the case is instructed by an agent of the National Intelligence Agency to treat the murder as a botched burglary. Although some evidence points in this direction, Dunai believes Siobhan’s murder was work-related, which means she and Bryan, an American statistician, could be in danger. She strikes a deal with Carl, a private investigator. If she is able to find a motive for the murder he will show her how to go about catching the killer. Dunai discovers Siobhan was blackmailing five people who stood in the way of her pilot project, and was involved with a subversive group of radical feminists called Cerchio Del Gaia whose insignia is a double cross. Dunai and Carl investigate the individuals blackmailed by Siobhan. They include: an anti-abortion activist, the head of an all-male religious fundamentalist group, an Anglican bishop, a member of local government, and a USAID official. One of these suspects was the last person to see Siobhan alive, another is known to have approached a contract killer a month before her murder. Cerchio Del Gaia becomes increasingly entangled in both Dunai’s life and the investigation, and she is told that if she joins the group she will have access to information about her birth. The National Intelligence Agency is on a similar tack; if Dunai infiltrates Cerchio Del Gaia, which they believe is an international terrorist organisation, they will provide her with information about her origins. Dunai turns down both offers and the mystery of her birth and abandonment is eventually revealed by a woman claiming to be Siobhan’s sister, Dunai’s birth mother and the head of the South African chapter of Cerchio Del Gaia. Throughout the investigation Dunai has searched for Mr Bojangles, a schizophrenic vagrant who may have seen the murderer. When she eventually finds him he seems to be of little help, yet it is his ramblings along with another clue that leads to her close friend and colleague, Bryan, who has been wanted by the FBI for twenty years for terrorist activities in the US. Bryan murdered Siobhan after discovering she intended betraying him to the National Intelligence Agency to deflect attention from Cerchio Del Gaia and as proof that she abided by the law even when it meant personal sacrifice. Carl, who is now romantically involved with Dunai, offers to continue her training as an investigator and she agrees to divide her time between this and Siobhan’s NGO. What Next? We suggest using Tracy’s synopsis as a great example for your own synopsis format. If you need more help writing your synopsis and agent letter, we offer this as one of our manuscript editing services. Or if you just want the agent submissions builder, you can go grab it below. Happy writing – and have fun. About the author Harry Bingham has been a professional author for twenty years and more. He’s been published by each of the three largest publishers in the world. He’s hit bestseller lists, had a ton of critical acclaim, and has been published in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Japan . . . and lots of other places too. His work has been adapted for the screen and he’s enjoyed (almost) every minute of his career. (More about Harry, more about his books). As head of Jericho Writers (and previously the Writers’ Workshop), Harry has helped hundreds of people find agents and get published. He’d love it if you were next. (More about us.)
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Literary agents for women’s fiction

Including a template for you to follow and a complete worked example When you approach literary agents, you will need to present them with a submission package that includes a query letter, a sample of your manuscript and, of course, a synopsis. The synopsis will need to look professional – that is, it wants to follow a proper synopsis format – and it needs to do its job, of convincing an agent that your story sounds exciting. That’s not actually hard to achieve, and this post will tell you exactly how to write a synopsis. We’ll reveal the two huge tricks that make your life easy . . . and give you an example synopsis too, so you can understand exactly how to put the rules into practice. Sounds good? Let’s jump right in. HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL SYNOPSIS A synopsis is a 500-800 word summary of your book that forms part of your agent submission pack. It should outline your plot in neutral non-salesy language and demonstrate a clear story arc. Every major plot twist, character, and any big turning point or climatic scene should get a mention. DEFINITION: WHAT IS A SYNOPSIS? A synopsis is: A short summary of your story, in its entirety, from beginning to end, soup to nuts, nose to tail.Written in fairly neutral, non-salesy languageFollows the same broad structure as your novel. So if, for example, you have a novel with two intertwining time-strands, your synopsis would follow the order of events as presented in the novel. Your novel’s structure trumps any chronological issues.Probably about 500-800 words in length, but agents’ requirements differ, so do check against each agent’s submission requirements. From this definition, it also follows that: A synopsis is not like the text on the back jacket of a book. Those book blurbs are much shorter and normally offer only a teaser, rather than a full rundown of the book’s story.For the same reason, a novel synopsis is not the same as an Amazon-style book description. In fact, a synopsis is what you think it is. A 500-word long spoiler for your entire novel. Every major plot twist. Every major character. Any big turning point. Your big climactic scenes. They’re all there, briefly, succinctly and (yes) a little drily narrated. Oh yes: and some good news – If you can write a novel, then you can definitely write a synopsis. Writing a synopsis is a lot, lot easier than writing a whole damn novel, so don’t stress. You should be able to put together your synopsis in a morning – and still have time for a stroll before lunch. PURPOSE:WHAT IS A SYNOPSIS FOR? I just said that a synopsis is kinda dry – and it is. In fact, I doubt if anyone has ever enjoyed reading one. It’s just not that entertaining. So if it’s not for fun – why have it? Why do almost all literary agents ask for one? OK, so this is how it works: Most literary agents will look at your covering letter first, then turn to the manuscript. If they like the first three chapters, they’ll be thinking, “This looks great, but is it going to hold interest? Is it worth making that investment of time to read it all?” That’s where the synopsis comes in. Your synopsis is there to outline your plot and to demonstrate a clear story arc, a satisfying ending. It’s your tool to make someone read on. That’s why your synopsis needs to: Tell an agent directly and clearly what your plot is – it needs to give a clear picture of the narrative arc;Clearly identify your main characters – and at least hint at any major character development arcsMake clear what your hook, premise or elevator pitch is;Demonstrate implicitly its appeal and how plot momentum increases;Share an ending that feels satisfying. If your synopsis achieves all that – and your query letter and manuscript sample is up to scratch – the agent will ask you for the full manuscript. They can’t not. You’ve got them hooked. SYNOPSIS:LENGTH, TONE, FORMAT A wonderful synopsis has the following ingredients: Length: about 500 words (but check agency requirements – they can be quite variable). There’s a lot of advice around suggesting that your synopsis should run to no more than one page. We think that’s on the low side. Most good synopses we see run to two nicely formatted pages (ie: reasonable line spacing, normal margins and a sensible font.)Language: Be business-like; clear, to the point, neutral. In particular, it’s fine to tell not show: this is a business document, not the novel itself.Presentation: Be well-presented with no typos or spelling mistakes. Use normal fonts, normal margins, and line spacing no narrower than 1.5. It’s fine if your synopsis runs to two pages, but (unless an agent specifically asks for more), don’t run to more than that.Character names: Put the names of main characters in bold or CAPS when you first introduce them. That makes the synopsis easier to navigate.Character thumbnails: as well as highlighting your characters names , you should give a swift resume of who they are, on first introduction. So for example: “James Bond, (38), a British agent – handsome, cruel, seductive, and high-living – …”. Note that you can insert age in brackets without having to say “he is thirty-eight years old.” Save that word count!Extra points: If you have a compelling way to ‘sell’ your story in 2-3 lines maximum, you could insert that little snippet up at the top of your synopsis.Third person presentation: Even if your novel is narrated in the first person, your synopsis should be written third person. So (to pick one of my own 1st person detective novels for example), I wouldn’t write “I am a police constable in South Wales …”, but rather, “Fiona Griffiths is a police constable, based in South Wales…” You can instantly see how much more professional that sounds, right?File name: Please don’t call your file synopsis.doc. That works fine for you on your computer – but the agent probably has 100 files from writers with that exact filename. So help the agent out. Your file should be in the format title-synopsis. So: farewell-to-arms-synopsis.doc, for example. And once again: tell the story. Your job is not to sell the book, write blurb, or anything else, just say what happens in the story. HOW TO WRITE A SYNOPSIS FOR YOUR NOVEL The two tricks that make your task ridiculously simple There are two big tricks in getting your synopsis right. They are: TRICK THE FIRST Don’t take your massive 100,000 word manuscript and try to figure out how to cram all its rich complexity into a 500 word precis. It can’t be done. You’ll go crazy. Your synopsis will be terrible. Instead of going from your manuscript and boiling it down, you need to go from your structure and build up. That’s the trick. It works every time and it’s awesome. What’s your structure? It’s this: Status QuoInitiating IncidentDevelopmentsCrisisResolution Without looking at your manuscript, sketch out your plot using those headings in about 300 words. The ‘developments’ section obviously represents by far the largest portion of your novel, but it may not amount to more than 40-50% of your total word count here. That’s fine. Missing out excessive detail is exactly the point. It’s precisely what you’re trying to do. So do it, and don’t fret. Equally: don’t get into too much detail about character or settings or anything like that. Just focus on the exact plot mechanics for now. Want more help on this? Need help to understand this trick in action? Course you do: We’ve got a free Agent Submissions Builder which gives you a precise template for constructing your synopsis – and your query letter. You’ll have both synopsis and query letter written in a couple of hours tops – and they’ll be excellent ones as well. Get my Agent Submission Builder here. Second only to your novel, these are the most important documents you’ll ever write – so get them sorted fast, easily, and with excellence. You’ll be glad you did. Trick The Second The second trick is equally simple and equally effective. It’s this: Layer in information about who your characters are and how the events of the story impact them. Synopses can feel like rather cold and baffling documents. When they do (and assuming they’re decently written), it’s always because the writer has focused entirely on plot machinery and hasn’t said enough about why it matters to the characters. But we read books for the characters, so your synopsis has to engage with those emotional aspects too. Remember I gave you only 300 words for the actual plot machinery? The remaining 200 words are where you can express yourself with characters, emotions and character arcs. EXAMPLE (WITHOUT CHARACTER / EMOTION LANGUAGE): “As BELLA walks into the class, a fan blows her scent towards a boy, named EDWARD CULLEN. Bella sits next to Edward in biology class on her first day of school. He disappears for a few days, but sees more of Bella upon his return. Bella is then nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot. Edward saves Bella, stopping the van with only his hand.”(Adapted from the Wikipedia synopsis of Twilight) EXAMPLE (WITH CHARACTER / EMOTION LANGUAGE) “As BELLA walks into the class, a fan blows her scent towards a mysterious boy named EDWARD CULLEN. Bella sits next to Edward in biology class on her first day of school, but he seems repulsed by her, affecting her feelings in the process. He disappears for a few days, but warms up to Bella upon his return; their newfound relationship is interrupted after Bella is nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot. Edward saves Bella, stopping the van with only his hand.”(Source: as above) Do you see how much more engaging the second version is? Although the text remains quite dry, by including emotional / character-type language in its summary, we have some sense of the real, developing relationship. Short message: don’t focus so hard on plot mechanics that you forget to layer in emotion. WRITING A SYNOPSIS:COMMON MISTAKES Here’s what not to do. Miss the agent’s word count by a mile. If an agent’s website gives you a particular word count to aim for, then deliver that, at least approximately. You may find you need a couple of different versions of the same documents, just because those blooming agents can’t cohere around one set word count. Jeepers. Those guys.Go into detail about setting: If you were writing a synopsis for a Jane Austen novel, for example, you might simply say: “This novel is set in a small village in Regency England.” You don’t need more.Go into vast detail about character: A few quick strokes are all that you need. (For example: “Ella, an experienced but overconfident assassin (36), …”)Be scrupulous about plot detail: It’s fine to skip subplots or ignore some finer details. The truth is, you won’t have time to include those things in a 500-word summary. Agents know that the synopsis is at best an approximation of the story.Hide the plot twist: A synopsis is the ultimate plot spoiler, opposite to a blurb, and your job is just to spill the beans, whether you like it or not.Start telling us about the novel. So, for example, don’t say, “Then the novel picks up the story of Kate and Jacob …”. Say: “Meanwhile, Kate and Jacob …”Cram in too many character names. Four or five is the maximum an agent wants to deal with. If you need to refer to other characters, just say, “the CIA agent” or “the beautiful doctor”.Forget to put your character names in CAPS or bold. Make it easy for the agent!Omit the title. Yes, we’ve seen synopses entitled “Synopsis”. Make sure you have both the title of your book and your name up at the top of your document. So your title line might read: A Farewell to Arms: Synopsis”, and beneath that in smaller text you’d have your name – maybe Ernest somebody-or-other.Use an unhelpful filename. Your document needs to be yourbooktitle-synopsis.doc.Write badly. Yes, a synopsis is a brisk, functional document, and you don’t need to write wonderfully. But you are still a writer trying to sell your work, so don’t allow yourself clumsy or badly expressed sentences.Fail to use our incredible Agent Submission Builder. These tools help you structure and write your synopsis and your query letter in a trice. Or even less than that – a dice. You can get them for free here. Watcha waitin’ for? If you’re not making those errors, you should be good to go. If you need help on getting your plot structure right in the first place, then check out these links: how to plot, more on using plot outlines, and how to apply the snowflake method to your story construction process. Synopsis: An Example A perfect example of how to get your synopsis just plain right For a perfect example of a synopsis, please see below. This is a synopsis example penned by one of our own clients, Tracy Gilpin. The synopsis (and the book) went on to wow an agent and secure a book deal. SYNOPSIS OF DOUBLE CROSS BY TRACY GILPIN Dunai Marks discovers the strangled corpse of Siobhan Craig, an activist who is not only her employer but also a mother figure; Dunai had been abandoned at an orphanage as a baby. Siobhan was about to present to government the results of a controversial population control model for possible implementation at national level. Dunai believes this is the reason she was murdered. The investigating officer on the case is instructed by an agent of the National Intelligence Agency to treat the murder as a botched burglary. Although some evidence points in this direction, Dunai believes Siobhan’s murder was work-related, which means she and Bryan, an American statistician, could be in danger. She strikes a deal with Carl, a private investigator. If she is able to find a motive for the murder he will show her how to go about catching the killer. Dunai discovers Siobhan was blackmailing five people who stood in the way of her pilot project, and was involved with a subversive group of radical feminists called Cerchio Del Gaia whose insignia is a double cross. Dunai and Carl investigate the individuals blackmailed by Siobhan. They include: an anti-abortion activist, the head of an all-male religious fundamentalist group, an Anglican bishop, a member of local government, and a USAID official. One of these suspects was the last person to see Siobhan alive, another is known to have approached a contract killer a month before her murder. Cerchio Del Gaia becomes increasingly entangled in both Dunai’s life and the investigation, and she is told that if she joins the group she will have access to information about her birth. The National Intelligence Agency is on a similar tack; if Dunai infiltrates Cerchio Del Gaia, which they believe is an international terrorist organisation, they will provide her with information about her origins. Dunai turns down both offers and the mystery of her birth and abandonment is eventually revealed by a woman claiming to be Siobhan’s sister, Dunai’s birth mother and the head of the South African chapter of Cerchio Del Gaia. Throughout the investigation Dunai has searched for Mr Bojangles, a schizophrenic vagrant who may have seen the murderer. When she eventually finds him he seems to be of little help, yet it is his ramblings along with another clue that leads to her close friend and colleague, Bryan, who has been wanted by the FBI for twenty years for terrorist activities in the US. Bryan murdered Siobhan after discovering she intended betraying him to the National Intelligence Agency to deflect attention from Cerchio Del Gaia and as proof that she abided by the law even when it meant personal sacrifice. Carl, who is now romantically involved with Dunai, offers to continue her training as an investigator and she agrees to divide her time between this and Siobhan’s NGO. WHAT NEXT? We suggest using Tracy’s synopsis as a great example for your own synopsis format. If you need more help writing your synopsis and agent letter, we offer this as one of our manuscript editing services. Or if you just want the agent submissions builder, you can go grab it below. Happy writing – and have fun. About the author Harry Bingham has been a professional author for twenty years and more. He’s been published by each of the three largest publishers in the world. He’s hit bestseller lists, had a ton of critical acclaim, and has been published in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, Japan . . . and lots of other places too. His work has been adapted for the screen and he’s enjoyed (almost) every minute of his career. (More about Harry, more about his books). As head of Jericho Writers (and previously the Writers’ Workshop), Harry has helped hundreds of people find agents and get published. He’d love it if you were next. (More about us.)
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Literary agents for science fiction

Are you writing predominantly for women, about women, and in search of an agent? Women’s fiction is an incredibly broad and rich genre to be aware of as a publishing label. There is romance, there is domestic noir, there is literary fiction, and a novel being literary fiction need not cancel out it being a romance, etc., etc. Nor does any given sub-genre (e.g. domestic noir) mean that this is a genre read only by women, even if in the publishing world, it may tend to be marketed as such. So you need to be careful how you choose a book genre. Is it really a book group type of novel (i.e. accessible and literary)? Is it romance? Is it erotica? Just because your book might be about a woman sorting through a relationship (not necessarily a romantic one), doesn’t mean that you’ll to describe the novel as women’s fiction. Better to think more about what kind of book it is and what kind of agent you want. Luckily, we’ve made your agent search easy with AgentMatch. Agentmatch And How To Use It On AgentMatch, there are plenty of agents who love women’s fiction (including, by the way, plenty of male agents since this is not a girls’ only preserve), and you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. romance or literary fiction) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. This site is designed to give users a good feel for the data and functionality for free, but the real riches of our site are available only to members. Become a member. AgentMatch provides: A list of every agent in the UK;Masses of data on each one (photos, biographies, client lists, genre preferences, likes and dislikes, and much more);Search tools to make it easy to sort through all our goodies;Submission info for every agent;Further links to any other key information we’ve been able to locate on the web.
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US agents for travel non-fiction

So, you’ve written a travel memoir and you’re ready to find an agent to represent it? There are plenty of travel-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  William Clark  Rachel Dillon Fried   Wendy Levinson  Alison Mackeen  Dan Mandel  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! Finding An Agent Finding an agent sounds much easier than it is. There are so many agents, with varying preferences and requirements, and so many sites to explore and notes to take. It can be a daunting task.  If you’re writing a travel book, it needs to set itself apart from others like it in the market. Take a look at Into the Wild, Eat Pray Love, or Under the Tuscan Sun, what sets them apart and makes them so appealing to readers? Bear this in mind when querying agents, and show them what makes your book unique. We’ve at least made your agent search easier with AgentMatch. Good luck!
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US literary agents representing politics and current affairs

‘Non-fiction’ covers a wide range of subjects, and in this case, politics and current affairs offers a broad and eclectic market. There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started:  Betsy Amster   Amy Elizabeth Bishop  Dado Derviskadic  Stuart Krichevsky  Rita Rosenkranz  Gordon Warnock  Howard Yoon Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  If your book isn’t strictly about politics but about how society works, think Malcolm Gladwell, or similar to Michael Lewis and addresses specific aspects of how the world works, then agents within this category are likely a good match for you.  It’s important to remember that no agents only specialise in politics and current affairs. Your agent is likely to represent a range of areas including serious and topical non-fiction, fiction, as well as other lighter non-fiction subjects, too. This doesn’t mean that your agent won’t have the necessary connections. He or she will have them and will be motivated to place your work in the best (and most lucrative) place possible.  Good luck! 
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Literary agents for politics and current affairs

‘Non-fiction’ covers a wide range of subjects, and in this case, politics and current affairs offers a broad and eclectic market. There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started:  Betsy Amster   Amy Elizabeth Bishop  Dado Derviskadic  Stuart Krichevsky  Rita Rosenkranz  Gordon Warnock  Howard Yoon Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  If your book isn’t strictly about politics but about how society works, think Malcolm Gladwell, or similar to Michael Lewis and addresses specific aspects of how the world works, then agents within this category are likely a good match for you.  It’s important to remember that no agents only specialise in politics and current affairs. Your agent is likely to represent a range of areas including serious and topical non-fiction, fiction, as well as other lighter non-fiction subjects, too. This doesn’t mean that your agent won’t have the necessary connections. He or she will have them and will be motivated to place your work in the best (and most lucrative) place possible.  Good luck! 
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Literary agents for memoir, true story and autobiography

There’s a very broad and eclectic group of books covered by this. If your book isn’t strictly about politics but is (like Malcolm Gladwell’s) about how society actually works or (like Michael Lewis’s) about specific aspects of how the world works, then you are probably still looking for agents who work in this same broad category. Do be aware that no agents specialise only in this area. You should expect your agent to represent not merely serious, topical non-fiction, but also (most likely) plenty of fiction, and plenty of other non-fiction as well. That doesn’t mean the agent concerned won’t have the necessary connections. He or she will have them and be motivated to place your work in the best (and most lucrative) place possible. AGENTMATCH AND HOW TO USE IT On AgentMatch, there are plenty of politics-loving agents and you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. current affairs) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. The site is designed to give users a good feel for the data and functionality for free, but the real riches of our site are available only to members.
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Literary agents for food and cookery books

The Festival of Writing 2018 – and How All Was Not LostBy Sophie Beal Dear Myself-of-the-Weeks-Before-the-Festival, This letter is for you, poring over the Jericho resources, searching for wisdom on those ultimate questions: how can I know the Festival won’t be a waste of time and money? And what if, instead of an agent, I get conclusive proof I’m delusional? These are the things you’ll want to know up front. You don’t make any of the competition shortlists.You have a very depressing 1-2-1.That dream, where agents and publishers stalk you? It doesn’t happen. You’re now wondering if you should cut your losses, stay in Bournemouth and save the petrol. Keep reading. Sometimes, people meet their agent in the coffee queue. This is unlikely in your case. Either, you’ll be too scared to strike up conversation, or not be scared enough and say something really stupid. So there you are. Four hundred and sixty pounds down, no chance of representation and surrounded by three hundred odd people all after roughly the same thing. It’s going to be murder, right? That’s what you’re thinking. That first 1-2-1 is not the agent’s fault. She’s lovely, but doesn’t think you’re the next Tolstoy. “I’m getting caught up in the medical red tape,” she says. She has no idea of the time you’ve spent trying to make sure that didn’t happen. You sit there and listen. You write notes. You return to your session. Then you go back to your room and grieve. After all, unless something magic happens, this is probably the end of the line for your novel. After eleven years. If you could fit this into the hour and a half before dinner, it would be an ideal time and place. It’s quiet. There are no children asking you for snacks or arbitration. But you’ve a soul to vomit and mealtime comes all too soon. You’re not pretty when you cry. People will assume you’re dying of something they don’t want to catch. Or they’ll know the truth – that you’re not as good as you hoped. You drag Rachel, your trusty writing partner, to your room. She gives you a good hug, and supervises you while you rinse your eyes in warm water and make your way towards food. And there you meet someone else who hasn’t yet had either of their 1-2-1s, but is thoroughly fed up with the submission process. You share your own tale of woe. And the lady on the other side shares hers. And you say things to each other you would usually reserve for the mirror (or Rachel). Like, “I think I’m good.” Someone buys three gins and tonic and instead of slipping out before Friday Night Live, you surprise yourself by staying up to whinge until eleven thirty (that’s three am in young person time). You’re still feeling a little fragile the next morning, but all that panic-surfing has paid off. You remember Emma Darwin’s blog. You have your first coherent thoughts: You really didn’t think your world through before you wrote your novel. Your main characters are academic anaesthetists. How many non-medics know those exist? And there’s so much more you need to set up alongside the love story, including the ambition and rivalry. World-building in these circumstances is difficult, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the novel is doomed.The agent didn’t criticise your prose, your first page, or your characterisation. A lot of your work has paid off.Mandy Berriman had a difficult journey to publication. People have told you she’s lovely. You will try to speak to her. Together with a cooked breakfast, you’ve reason enough to get out of bed. Penny Holroyde and Allie Spencer sit at your table in the canteen. This is the moment you should try and impress Penny who is after all an agent. But when they ask you about your festival, you end up telling them the truth. It’s the best thing you can do. They are both lovely. “So many published authors I know, have a novel they love but can’t sell,” says Allie. “It doesn’t mean it’s not any good.” You talk about easy reading for thinkers.  She wrote her first romantic comedy about a young barrister, so understands your world-building issues and gives you some pointers. You come away thoroughly inspired. That is your “all is lost moment” done and dusted. Having planned plenty of alone time, you don’t miss a thing after that: Sarah Pinborough may apologise for waffling in her keynote lecture, but has everyone in stitches as she describes life as a published author. And everyone’s crying by the end of Julie Cohen’s session about Pixar story-telling. At the book club and literary industry panel you’re told genre boundaries are blurring. Pinning your book down as literary or commercial doesn’t matter as much as it did. Finally, someone produces a useful definition of book club fiction. It’s obvious really: “something people want to talk about with their friends.” You contemplate skiving the Futurecast session. It’s on Sunday morning; you’re tired and already know vampires are out, uplit and psychological thrillers in. But there’s loads more to learn. Afterwards, everyone you speak to is considering self-publishing. And somewhere in the middle of all that, you have a second 1-2-1. It’s far more relaxed than your first, possibly because you now know the problem. You bring up the world-building issue yourself. She suggests emphasising the love story over the setting from the start. But she says, “You’re clearly a very good writer.” You have time left. You could show her your elevator pitch for novel number two, but you forget and use the minutes up blithering about how much her opinion means to you. There you are: three competitions, two 1-2-1s and no agent. But you now understand more about how you could fit into the industry. And you’ve found the rest of the people like you in the world. The money isn’t wasted. On Sunday morning, you listen to Mandy Berriman’s keynote session and her full story of knockbacks, perseverance and eventual success with her second novel. Over lunch, you tell your fellow writers about your novel number two. “That one will be so much easier to sell. I can condense the idea down into a few sentences.” You tell them it’s about a couple about to abandon fertility treatment when the woman is raped. She then discovers she is pregnant. She thinks the baby is her husband’s. He thinks she’s delusional and wants an abortion. Someone says, “I’m wondering what I’d do.” And someone else, “You need to write that.” Then you remember you’re actually on your second draft. This sets off those pesky dreams again. You see yourself up on the main stage, about to publish your first novel as your second. The editor next to you is saying, “I couldn’t believe she had something so marvellous in her bottom drawer.” With very best wishes Sophie Beal Sophie came to the Festival of Writing 2018. She did not get an agent, but did get inspired. Has this inspired you to come along next year? Keep you eye on our events for more.
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US Literary Agent Listings

This post has (at the bottom) a complete and regularly updated list of the literary agents active in the United States. By clicking through to each agent, you will also find which literary agencies they belong to. Just Want A List Of All Us Literary Agents? Then keep scrolling, buddy. You’ll find everything you want a little further down. If you want a list of agents active in the United Kingdom, you’re on the wrong page. Hum God Save The Queen, throw a Union Jack round your shoulders, and teleport over here instead. Want A Quick Reminder Of How To Get An Agent? Finding a literary agent to take on, edit, sell and champion your work is a career-defining moment for any traditionally oriented writer. But it’s career-defining partly because it’s hard to achieve. So let’s try to keep this simple. Here’s what you need to do to attract a literary agent: Step 1: Write a wonderful book.That’s hard, admittedly, but you’re on this page because you’re serious. Step 2: Compile a longlist of qualified literary agents.A qualified literary agent is one who is (A) in the right country, (B) open to your genre, and (C) reasonably open to taking on new work and new clients. Once you have that longlist – which could easily run to 100+ names – you can start to filter it. Our AgentMatch tool allows you to select agents by genre at the click of a button. You can search by literary fiction, women’s fiction, crime thriller, romance, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, and pretty much every other genre you can think of – including all major non-fiction genres. Learn more about AgentMatch. Step 3: Narrow down to a shortlist of 10-12 namesOnce you have your longlist, you need to work to find the ones who jump out at you – normally because you find a point of contact. You’re looking for something that seems to connect the kind of reader that agent is with the kind of writer you are. A shared favourite author. A passion for steampunk. Book set in your agent’s childhood state. Shared passion for the ocean. The point of contact doesn’t matter. Just find agents who sing to you. Step 4: Write a brilliant query letter Sounds hard, but it’s really easy. All you need to do is read our amazing query letter advice – and follow it. Step 5: Write a sizzling synopsis Sounds very hard, but it’s also very easy. There are two big tricks to writing a successful synopsis fast and easily. We tell you what they are (and with some bonus tips included) on our synopsis page. Step 6: Give your manuscript and opening chapters a last check Look: I’m not about to tell you how to write a book. But you probably want to check your opening chapters meet the basic requirements for professional manuscript format. You will probably also be interested to learn what we think are the most common mistakes made in the kind of manuscripts that go out to literary agents. If you want a properly complete guide to getting an agent, you can get here. Phew! Literary Agents: All You Need To Know Agents sell manuscripts to publishersAll the agents in the US are listed on this pageYou need to shortlist 10-12 agentsWrite a synopsisWrite a query letterSubmit your work to your shortlisted agentKeep your fingers crossed How To Use Agentmatch To Find Your Literary Agent AgentMatch gives you a complete, easily searchable list of all literary agents in the US – and all those in the United Kingdom too. Our English-speaking, graduate researchers have put together profiles of all literary agents out there, making use of ALL publicly available information (not just that on the agent’s website.) Then we make it incredibly easy to search: By countryBy genreBy experienceBy level of interest in acquiring new writersSize of literary agencyAnd much else Each agent has a detailed profile, including photo wherever possible – so you can complete an entire search process in a swift and completely non-haphazard way. Sounds good right? Except presumably we’re going to ask you for a ton of money. Except – no. We’re writers too, so we offer a free trial of Agent Match . That gives you access to ALL the data, not just profile summaries. You can also get access to our search tools, which allow you to compile your agent longlist in about 20 seconds . . . and compile a really effective shortlist in the time it takes to drink a couple cups of coffee and maybe eat a croissant too. And “free trial” means just that. We don’t ask you for any payment details. We don’t restrict your usage of the site. Any data you collect, you are welcome to retain and use for your own purposes. (We’re nice like that!) You can get your free trial here. We hope you love it! Meantime, we promised you a complete list of every literary agent currently active in the United States. So scroll on down and knock yourself out. Or actually – don’t. Knocking yourself out? Ouch. Just scroll. US Literary Agents: The List Dominick AbelLisa AbelleraLaurie AbkemeierLauren AbramoJosh AdamsTracey AdamsNalini AkolekarRica AllannicJessica AlvarezBetsy AmsterClaire Anderson-WheelerNatalia AponteAmelia AppelFaye AtchisonSteven AxelrodMargaret BailJohn F. BakerNoah BallardJulie BarerDenise BaroneAndrea BarzviAndrea BarzviRachel BeckSarah BedingfieldFaye BenderJenny BentElizabeth BewleyMatt BialerLauren BiekerVicky BijurAmy Elizabeth BishopDavid BlackLaura Blake PetersonCaitlin BlasdellBrettne BloomJanna BonikowskiEmma Borges-ScottMichael BourretBrenda BowenHannah BowmanJaidree BraddixLaura BradfordBarbara BraunRegina BrooksRachel BrooksAndrea BrownDanielle BukowskiDanielle BurbyPenelope BurnsMadelyn BurtSheree BykofskyJoquelle CaibyTess CalleroKimberley CameronBeth CampbellCynthia CannellCarrie CantorVictoria CappelloVictoria CappelloElise CapronLoretta CaravetteMoses CardonaJennifer CarlsonLucy CarsonTerra ChalbergJamie ChamblissSonali ChanchaniJennifer Chen TranMelissa ChincholloWilliam ClarkJune ClarkGinger ClarkChristina CliffordAmy CloughleyFrances CollinLeila CompoliCristina ConcepcionMichael CongdonBill ContardiElizabeth CoppsElizabeth CoppsElizabeth CoppsMarisa CorvisieroLaura CrockettClaudia CrossMary CummingsMichael CurryRichard CurtisJohn CusickKerry D’AgostinoKerry D’AgostinoLaura DailMelissa DanaczkoLiz DarhansoffArielle DatzSarah DaviesNaomi DavisLiza DawsonBrian DeFioreStacia DeckerJoelle DelbourgoStephanie DelmanStephanie DelmanDado DerviskadicSandra DijkstraRachel Dillon FriedRachel Dillon FriedLucienne DiverJohn DoJohn DoAdriana DomínguezHenry DunowDavid DuntonJane DystelArielle EckstutLindsay EdgecombeMelissa EdwardsDanielle Egan-MillerSusanna EinsteinCaroline EisenmannLeigh EisenmannRachel EkstromSally EkusLisa EkusLisa EkusLisa EkusLisa EkusLisa EkusLisa EkusMatthew ElblonkEthan EllenbergGareth EserskyFelicia EthMary EvansSuzy EvansKemi FaderinSorche FairbankAlison FargisKatherine FaussetJessica FaustLeigh FeldmanHannah FergesenHannah FergesenHannah FergesenHannah FergesenMoe FerraraJenni Ferrari-AdlerDiana FinchCeleste FineCherise FisherHeather FlahertyJennifer FlanneryChristy FletcherCaitie FlumJacqueline FlynnEmily ForlandRoz FosterGráinne FoxAlexandra FranklinWarren FrazierMatthew FrederickJeanne FredericksGrace FreedsonMolly FriedrichLouise FuryNadeen GayleEllen GeigerJane GelfmanJeff GereckeLilly GhahremaniAnna GhoshAlex GlassCathy GleasonStacey GlickMiriam GoderichBarry GoldblattFrances GoldinConnor GoldsmithVeronica GoldsteinJennifer GoloboyIrene GoodmanDoug GradRebecca GradgingerSusan GrahamBen GrangeSylvie GreenbergDaniel GreenbergEvan GregoryKatie GrimmLisa GrubkaRobert GuinslerKatelyn HalesJordan HamessleyFaith HamlinCarrie HanniganElizabeth HardingSandy HardingDawn HardyMichael HarriotJoy HarrisAdam HarrisErin HarrisRoss HarrisCate HartPamela HartyHilary HarwellJennifer HaskinAnne HawkinsAnne HawkinsRichard HenshawSaritza HernandezJennifer HerreraAli HerringChrista HeschkeEdward HibbertGail HochmanScott HoffmanMarkus HoffmannDeborah HofmannMichael HooglandErin HosierCarrie HowlandAmy HughesKristy HunterLeon HusockAnnie HwangJennifer JacksonEleanor JacksonAmanda JainNicole JamesAllison JaniceMelissa JeglinskiAlyssa JennetteKaitlyn JohnsonKaitlyn JohnsonRosie JonkerRia JulienJody KahnElianna KanCynthia KaneMaggie KaneJulia KardonTrena KeatingShana KellyJulia KennyKat KerrEmily KeyesJennifer KimJeff KleinmanHarvey KlingerDeidre KnightGinger KnowltonLinda KonnerKatie KotchmanElizabeth KrachtStuart KrichevskyMary KrienkeMiriam KrissMaura Kye-CasellaSarah LaPollaNatalie LakosilSarah LandisHeide LangeKatherine LatshawJennifer LaughranDon LaventhallThao LeVictoria LeaBetsy LernerLisa LeshneAmanda LeuckJim LevineWendy LevinsonBibi LewisJudy LindonKim LionettiLaurie LissBarbara LowensteinSandy LuEric LupferJonathan LyonsJohn MaasDonald MaassAlison MacKeenJoanna MacKenzieGina MaccobyTom MackayNeeti MadanDorian MaffeiDan MandelCarol MannJillian ManusJennifer March SolowayTracy MarchiniVictoria MariniJill MarrEvan MarshallTaylor Martindale KeanPeter MatsonJennifer MattsonEd MaxwellMargret McBrideBridget McCarthyJim McCarthyCameron McClureDavid McCormickCaitlin McDonaldErin McFaddenMatt McGowanLaurie McLeanSara MegibowDaniel MenakerScott MendelPooja MenonLeslie MeredithMarianne MerolaJosh MetzlerJosh MetzlerMartha MillardPeter MillerTom MillerEmily MitchellHeather MitchellPenny MooreMary C. MooreChristine MorganEmmanuelle MorgenNatascha MorrisGary MorrisAdam MuhligDana MurphyEdward Necarsulmer IVPenny NelsonKristin NelsonDana NewmanKiana NguyenErin NiumataRenee NyenLorin OberwegerMonica OdomNeil OlsonEdward OrloffRachel OrrKathleen OrtizJessica PapinVeronica ParkElana Roth ParkerJoseph ParsonsRick PascocelloSarah PassickEmma Paterson1David PattersonSharon PelletierTravis PenningtonKim PerelSarah PerilloLori PerkinsLara PerkinsCarrie PestrittoKelly PetersonAriana PhilipsAemilia PhillipsBarbara PoelleTina PohlmanRuth PomeranceLana PopovicMarcy PosnerLinda PrattKortney PricePilar QueenShaheen QureshiCortney RadocajSusan RaihoferSusan RamerKiele RaymondJoseph RegalJanet ReidWilliam ReissAllison RemcheckLaura RennertMaria RibasMichelle RichterRachel RidoutAnn RittenbergBJ RobbinsSoumeya Bendimerad RobertsQuressa RobinsonJennifer RoféAdrienne RosadoAnn RoseJanet RosenRita RosenkranzAndy RossGail RossGail RossWhitney RossGrace A RossStephanie RostanPeter RubieJohn RudolphCaryn Karmatz RudyKathleen RushallJim RutmanRegina RyanPeter RyanTamar RydzinskiRaphael SagalynJean SagendorphJesseca SalkySteven SalpeterStefanie Sanchez Von BorstelVictoria SandersTodd SatterstonAdam SchearSusan SchlumanKathleen SchmidtDeborah SchneiderHannah SchwartzYishai SeidmanKatie Shea BoutillierWendy ShermanJeff SilbermanErica Rand SilvermanMeredith Kaffel SimonoffTricia SkinnerVictoria SkurnickLatoya C SmithSarah SmithKaren SolemAndrea SombergKelly SonnackKerry SparksElaine SpencerLauren SpiellerJessica SpiveyAnna Sproul-LatimerRebecca SteadStephanie SteikerUwe StenderMyrsini StephanidesJenny StephensJL StermerPaul StevensDoug StewartRosemary StimolaAdriana StimolaSam StoloffRobin StrausMarlene StringerRachel SussmanRachel SussmanRachel SussmanKari SutherlandMargaret Sutherland BrownDanielle SvetcovEmma SweeneyEmily Sylvan KimAlice TasmanBrent TaylorNephele TempestCraig TenneyNikki TerpilowskiTest TestKate TestermanHenry ThayerMeg ThompsonJohn ThornSuzie TownsendSteve TrohaElizabeth TroutJoy TutelaAnn Leslie TuttleJennifer UddenCindy UhJennifer UnterLaura UsselmanEmily Van BeekMonika VermaChuck VerrillRachel VogelLiza VogesJoanna VolpeChristopher VyceElizabeth WalesMaureen WaltersGordon WarnockMitchell WatersKira WatsonMackenzie Brady WatsonJessica WattersonCarlisle WebberElisabeth WeedFrank WeimannJamie Weiss ChiltonJustin WellsVictoria Wells ArmsJennifer WeltzMarcia WernickPhyllis WestbergPaige WheelerMelissa WhiteEugene WinickElizabeth Winick RubinsteinCaryn WisemanMichelle WitteChristine WitthohnSally Wofford-GirandTim WojcikKent WolfLaura WoodMonika WoodsJoanne WyckoffMaximilian XimenezSarah YakeHoward YoonLaura YorkeKatie ZanecchiaKatie ZanecchiaKieryn Ziegler
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Agents for Women’s fiction

Are you predominately writing for women or about women, and in need of an agent? Then look no further, we answer all your questions here. Plus, we’ll even introduce a few agents you may like to query!   There are plenty of agents looking for women’s fiction but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  Betsy Amster Rachel Brooks  Jennifer Chen Tran  Jessica Faust Jennifer Jackson  Donald Mass  Quressa Robinson  Latoya Smith Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! Women’s Fiction Women’s fiction is a rich and broad market. It covers many sub-genres: romance, domestic noir, and literary fiction, for example. A literary fiction novel need not cancel out that the novel may also be classed as a romance. Nor does a sub-genre like domestic noir mean that this is a genre read only by women, even though the publishing world tends to market the genre as such.  So, it’s important to be careful how you choose your book genre. Is it really a book club type of novel (i.e. accessible and literary)? Is it romance? Erotica?  Just because your book may be about a woman and her relationships (not necessarily a romantic one), it doesn’t mean that you should be describing your novel as women’s fiction. Instead think more about what kind of book it is and what type of agent you’d like. 
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How to find a US literary agent for non-fiction

Looking for a US literary agent that specialises in non–fiction? Here’s your guide to finding an agent; learn who they are, what they’re looking for and how to hook them.  Non-fiction Literary Agents There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles. After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some non-fiction agents to get you started: Rita Rosenkranz   Andy Ross  Sam Stoloff  Howard Yoon  Anna Sproul-Latimer  Scott Hoffman  Elisabeth Weed Dawn Hardy  Matt Bialer  Michael Bourret  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  What Are Non-fiction Agents Looking For? Ultimately all literary agents are looking for a saleable manuscript. While non-fiction subjects can be varied, agents are generally interested in:  Celebrity-led projects, anything written or endorsed by a celebrity Strong and compelling memoirs Exotic travel stories, whether they’re funny or moving Popular science Narrative-led history Biographies, especially if the subject is well-known Major new diet or motivational work Strong and quirky one-off pieces LGBTQ+ themes.  The important thing to remember, is that unfortunately, no one is looking for niche. Anything specific with a narrow market, like local history books or biographies of unknown subjects, aren’t traditionally sought after by agents. You may find that your work might be picked up by the right publisher, but it’s unlikely you’ll get an agent for these types of projects.  You’ll notice that specialist and academic non–fiction isn’t listed here, either. That’s because your best bet would be to write up a book proposal and pitch directly to publishers who specialise in your subject area. You don’t typically need an agent for these.   Few agents focus solely on non-fiction projects. Most agents will build a fiction and non-fiction list, just as they would cultivate a literary and commercial list. The important thing to remember is that it’s the quality of the agent that really matters, not whether they specialise in a particular genre.  Having said that, there are some exceptions. As a general rule:  Authors of cookbooks, health and diet, or a how-to book may want an agent who does specialise in these areas. It’s definitely not an easy genre to break into, though. If you’re looking to work with a ghost-writer to help tell your story, then you’ll want to find an agent that has experience working on similar projects. But beware, very few personal stories warrant the cost of a ghost-writer. If you want to publish your story, then it’s worth writing it yourself – with our help, of course! Don’t forget you can research agent’s interests by either searching the relevant agency website, or by simply using our database of US and UK based literary agents, AgentMatch, to help narrow down your search.  How Do You Know What Literary Agents Want? This can be split into three categories: first, know what you need to query agents with.  For fiction submissions, you need to have written the whole book before querying agents. With non-fiction submissions, you can often get away with sending a book proposal, which is basically an outline of the book you intend to write, first.  If your book is story-led (think memoirs), then it would be worth writing the whole book before you submit to agents.  But if your non-fiction is subject based, then it‘s fine to start with the book proposal.  Secondly, deliver a saleable manuscript.  As I mentioned above, the only thing agents are really looking for is a manuscript that will sell well and make money. This means you need:  Strong, popular, entertaining writing – even if your subject is interesting, if the writing is poor no one’s going to want to read it! To write for the market. Obvious, yes, but a surprisingly high number of non–fiction authors don’t know who their intended market is. So, if you don’t know yours, then go to a bookstore or local library and find out.  And finally, get professional help. If you keep getting agent rejections or just want to perfect your manuscript first, then it’s time to ask for help. There’s lots of information out there. We’ve helped non-fiction authors in their writing journeys, and we can help you too. So, get in touch.  Best of luck with your submissions; and remember, let us know how you get on! 
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Literary agents for crime, thrillers and action novels

\" Written a thriller or work of crime fiction and need a literary agent? You’re in the right place. AgentMatch has a complete list of every agent in the UK with full detail about who they are and what kind of work they represent. So here’s what you do. Head over here.Click on the “select genres” box and choose “Crime & thrillers” from the pop-up list.You’ll find that there are a huge number of agents who represent work in this area. (Basically: most of them will happily represent crime; there are just about no agents who specialise only in that area.) So you’ll need to filter your list some more. Use our other search tools to bring your selection down to a manageable total.Then dive into individual agent profiles and read what each agent says about themselves.Make your final shortlist selection The twist in the tail All you need to access all our lovely data and search functionality? \"
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US literary agents for Historical Fiction

Looking for an agent that represents historical fiction? Then look no further, we answer all your questions here. Plus, we’ll even introduce a few agents you may like to query! There are plenty of agents that represent historical fiction to choose from, but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some historical fiction agents to get you started:  Josh Adams   Natalia Aponte   Julie Barer   Joelle Delbourgo  Kemi Faderin   David McCormick  Kristin Nelson  Steven Salpeter   Mitchell Waters   Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! The Market The historical fiction market is a wonderfully diverse and rich genre to be writing in. It is comprised of award-winning authors like Hilary Mantel, commercial talents such as Kate Mosse and Phillipa Gregory, and the thrilling talents of Conn Iggulden and Robert Harris. Let’s not forget the weird and wonderful crossovers, like Victorian-inspired steampunk fantasies and even historical erotica.  As you can see, the historical fiction market is brimming with vibrant, intelligent and lively books. But what does that mean for you? Well, in short, it means that locating the right literary agent to represent you and your novel will be pretty trying. After all, Hilary Mantel’s agent may not be the right person to handle that Victorian-inspired steampunk fantasy. Just a mere interest or reference to historical fiction won’t be enough of a connection.  This is why, once you’ve created a longlist of potential agents it’s important to review each agent’s profile. Find points of contact with each agent. Maybe they represent a favourite author, or list one of your favourite books, or maybe they’re Irish and your book is set in Dublin, etc. These points of contact will help you ascertain which agents you feel would be a good match, and if you mention them in your query letter could make a great first impression with the individual agent.  Best of luck! 
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US literary agents for memoir, true story, and autobiographies

Breaking into the book market can be difficult, but luckily for you, we have all the advice you need to find the right agent for your book. There are plenty of memoir-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started:  Margaret Bail Sonali Chanchani Dawn Hardy Edward Hibbert Jody Kahn  Ed Maxwell  Neil Olson Latoya C Smith Howard Yoon Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! The Memoir Market The market for memoirs is easy, if you’re a celebrity that is. If you find that you’re not a celebrity, then things can prove a little harder.  You will need to show that you have been part of something quite remarkable. Not my-friends-think-it’s-amazing remarkable, but the kind of remarkable that will captivate a perfect stranger, like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.   The ability to transform those remarkable experience into excellent prose is another must. To hook an agent, you need to be able to bring to life the things you’ve seen and done. Masterpieces like The Hare With Amber Eyes and Empire Antartica are also great examples.  Gripping stories like these are rarer than you’d think.  
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US literary agents for erotica

Are you looking for a US agent that represents erotica? Then look no further. We have all the information right here, at your fingertips. Oh, and we’ll also introduce a few agents too. There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.    We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles. After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s a few names to get you started: Steven Axelrod  Lucienne Diver  Danielle Egan-Miller Ethan Ellenberg  Sarah Megibow  Lori Perkins  Not too long ago finding an agent for erotic fiction was close to impossible. Agents were snobby. They were worried that erotic manuscripts were not saleable and feared that the erotica genre simply wouldn’t pay.  Then came E.L. James. After her huge success with the Fifty Shades of Grey series, agents and publishers have learnt the value of books in this genre. Even quite highbrow agencies are now open to submissions of erotic fiction.  So, if you’re thinking about querying agents, then you need to read our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  Best of luck! 
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US literary agents for YA

In recent years, young adult (YA) fiction has become a competitive and super selling genre. There are plenty of agents that represent young adult fiction to choose from, but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quotes, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles. After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and then work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some agents to get you started:  Ben Grange  Leon Husock   Sarah Landis  Thao Le   Kiana Nguyen   Quressa Robinson  Cindy Uh  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  Books like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series have made it acceptable and popular for adults to read and enjoy children’s fiction. What followed was a number of spectacular authors, such as Anthony Horowitz, Suzanne Collins, Melinda Salisbury, and many more.  The fact that the YA fiction market has been so successful means that agents are inevitably interested in the area and keen to take on outstanding work. So you’d better get started! Best of luck!
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Agents for paranormal romances

Looking for an agent that represents paranormal romances? Then look no further, we answer all your questions here. Plus, we’ll even introduce a few agents you may like to query!  There are plenty of agents looking for the next top-selling paranormal romance but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  Natalia Aponte  Jenny Bent Joquelle Caiby  Llori Perkins  Paige Wheeler  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! Paranormal Romance And The Market The success of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight created a huge sub-genre in paranormal romance. Having said that, authors like Anne Rice have been writing in the genre for a long time and clearly point to its longevity.  It is a genre tailor-made for the ebook generation, and has inspired a number of films and TV series, covering the whole nexus of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and YA dark romance.  So, to join the ranks of the paranormal romance market, your novel must:  Offer good, clean, readable prose. Have a twist on the basic genre that’s new and compelling. Create a romance that will capture your audience’s heart.  Once you’ve perfected your manuscript, you can start your search for the right agent, here. Best of luck!
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US science fiction literary agents

The science-fiction market remains as varied as it has always been, with plenty of international (and commercial) appeal. There are plenty of science-fiction loving agents, but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.    We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quotes, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.  After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and then work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some science-fiction agents to get you started:  Tracey Adams   Julie Barer   Beth Campbell  Connor Goldsmith  Mark Gottlieb   Evan Gregory   Monika Verma Kieryn Ziegler  Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  Are You Really Writing Science Fiction? Although you can still write classic space opera and find an eager market for it, there has been an increased interest in seeing more dystopia, genre collisions, and intelligent idea-driven fiction.  As a genre, science fiction remains rich. You can even argue that literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell have published science-fiction novels. George Orwell and Aldous Huxley are certainly renowned for their sci-fi masterpieces. While authors like Iain Banks and China Mieville, who aren’t traditionally considered as literary novelists, have produced some excellent examples of challenging, bold, and thoughtful fiction.   As the science-fiction market is so rich and deeply varied, it’s important to ask yourself: ‘am I really writing science fiction?’  For example:   A near-future thriller about an as-yet-undiscovered virus could well market itself more accurately as a techno-thriller and be suitable for crime and thriller agents and editors. An intelligent novel, like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, is probably better sold as literary fiction, no matter whether or not it uses sci-fi ideas and techniques.  If science-fiction is the right genre for you, then you’ll probably want to read this article on world-building.   And, if you’re still unsure about where your book will sit then try using AgentMatch, our database of all US and UK agents. Using the genre search you can peruse the agent profile pages to see what agents are looking for and find the best possible fit for your novel.  Wishing you lots of intergalactic luck! 
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Serendipity (or how I met my agent)

Guest author and blogger Lexie Elliott is author of The French Girl and shared with us how she met her literary agent en route to our Festival of Writing. Find her on Goodreads, on Facebook, or on Instagram. I like contradictions. I like it when there’s a round hole and a square peg that somehow fits it, I like it when things that should be black and white have shades of grey (erm, not those shades. Unless that’s your thing, in which case go right ahead). The exception to the rule always pulls my attention. There’s a story in there, I find myself thinking. How might it unfold? And because I like contradictions, I also like serendipity. The word itself has become a contradiction: in the original tales of the three princes of Serendip, the princes achieve success not merely through chance, as the modern day understanding of the word suggests, but more importantly using logical deduction. And that’s how I met my wonderful, inspiring, supportive agent Marcy: it was serendipitous, but I’d deliberately stacked the odds. I met Marcy just as the train we were both on pulled into York. I noticed a lady waiting to exit the carriage holding some papers emblazoned with Festival of Writing, realised we were going to the same place and somehow eschewed my usual British reticence in order to make small talk. She was having difficulty with her luggage, so I helped her with that and then we shared a taxi to the venue. It was only during that taxi ride that I discovered she’s that most important of creatures – an agent, no less – and, moreover, an agent representing writers in my genre (psychological suspense, since you ask). I plucked up the courage to ask if I could send her some material. Thankfully, she liked what she read, and we started down a path that has thus far led to an enormously exciting two-book deal with Berkley and the sale of the TV and movie rights for my first novel, The French Girl. Like I said, serendipitous, certainly – but it you want to meet an agent by chance, you must surely have a far greater probability of success if you go somewhere where there will actually be agents. I count that particular Festival of Writing as a pivotal point in my writing career, and not only because I met Marcy. I also met lots of other authors, agents (I got far down the line with a couple before settling with Marcy), book doctors, presenters, panellists. I learnt a huge amount about the craft of writing (or in some areas, relearning what I had forgotten). It was a deliberate investment, both in terms of time and money, in my fledgling writing career and an important psychological step to take: just registering for the Festival of Writing felt like a public acknowledgement that I was serious about my writing. I went to York entirely on my own, which forced me to get out of my hermit-like comfort zone and actually start up conversations with people, and I was warmed to find that those people were unfailingly friendly, polite and interesting. As a writer with a young family and a part-time job, I don’t have, well, any free time at all, actually, and certainly none to spend tapping into a nearby community of writers; it was heavenly to spend time talking about writing with people who weren’t either gently bemused by the compulsion to do it (my husband) or rather miffed that my stories don’t contain sword-fighting and/or spies (my sons). I returned from the Festival with a good idea of what was wrong with my current writing project, and a decent plan of how to go about putting it right. More importantly, I returned with a better understanding of my own creative process and a renewed enthusiasm for … wait for it … actually writing. Because, a lot of times, sitting down at the laptop can feel like hard work. It’s much easier to spend that time watching Netflix, or reading the result of someone else’s hard work. Sometimes it can even be easier to tidy the house and do the laundry than to write (admittedly, those are dark days). But those bolts of inspiration, that supposedly come from the blue to strike like creative lightning in the minds of aspiring writers, don’t really strike unless your mind is open to them. You must put in the thinking time and the writing time. You must make yourself into a lightning rod. It turns out that inspiration takers work (just another of those contradictions that I like). The Festival of Writing won’t do the work for you, but it will help you figure out how to get it done. And if you already have something that’s ready for the world to see, you have a pretty good chance of finding just the person to help you get it out there. Good luck! May the force of serendipity be with you. Serendipity (noun); the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
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US literary agents for fantasy fiction

The fantasy fiction market has been incredibly successful over the years, and publishers have made a lot of money from it. There are plenty fantasy-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started: Tracey Adams Amelia Appel Amy Elizabeth Bishop Connor Goldsmith Donald Maass Kristen Nelson Tricia Skinner Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors!  There have been some excellent authors who have written in the genre, China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, and Iain Banks to name a few.  This means that there are plenty of agents looking for the next big thing in fantasy to come their way. If that’s you, then AgentMatch should be your next stop!  To make sure your fantasy novel stands out from the slushpile try reading this article on world-building. You’ll probably also find this piece by published author Geraldine Pinch on how to write a fantasy novel useful, too.  Best of luck! 
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US agents representing Horror

Looking for an agent that represents horror? Then look no further, we answer all your questions here. Plus, we’ll even introduce a few agents you may like to query!  Agents Seeking Horror There are plenty of horror-loving agents but finalising your agent shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors should query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject areas, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. You can save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. We’ve done all the work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there.   So, if you want to get to know the agents below (as well as the other 900+ literary agents!) a little better, then take out our 7-day free trial and get searching.  Michael Bourret Elizabeth Copps Heather Flaherty Connor Goldsmith  Caitlin McDonald Maxmillian Ximenez Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! The Horror Market Since Stephen King revived and expanded the genre, horror has been a reliably steady element in the book market. The emergence of teen paranormal sagas has brought new readers to the genre, as well as changing the genre’s boundaries even further. While the ebook revolution has also introduced new readers to the genre, namely young men (traditionally more reluctant book-buyers) have been more willing to purchase fiction via their tablets and smart phones.  It’s important to remember that the genre shouldn’t be seen in too restrictive terms. Contemporary authors, such as the award-winning Lesley Glaister, have added quality to the genre. While well-respected authors like Susan Hill, have actually been writing horror fiction for years, albeit not for the typical audience associated with the genre.  You might find that some crime and thriller authors also plough through the classic horror territory.  (Oh, that noise from the old stone cellar? It’s nothing. Really, nothing.) 
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If An Agent Accepts Your Work, What Are Chances Of Getting Published?

And how to get a book deal yourself … You’re at that scary submissions stage. Your manuscript is edited right down to the very last comma. It’s time to go out into the big wide world and GET THAT BOOK DEAL. But – uh – what exactly do you have to do … and what are the odds of success? How To Get A Book Deal You want a book deal? So here’s the formula. This formula works for anyone wanting to be traditionally published (with a publisher, that is, rather than self-publishing via Amazon.) It also assumes that you are writing fiction or mainstream non-fiction – the sort of stuff you might find on the front tables of a larger bookstore. If that applies to you, then the formula for getting a book deal is: What Are The Odds Of Getting A Literary Agent? Those odds are somewhat scary. A typical agent in NY or London receives approximately 2,000 submissions a year. They are likely to accept 2-3 writers from that deluge. Some agents will accept fewer. So, as a rough rule of thumb, and allowing for plenty of variation, the chance of getting an agent are about 1 in 1000. That sounds frightening, but you can and should apply to more than one agent, so the 1 in 1000 is perhaps more like 1 in 100. And, in any case, it’s not about the odds. If your book is blindingly good – if you’ve written a Hunger Games, or a Gone Girl, or an All the Light We Cannot See – your odds of getting an agent are essentially 100%. So don’t focus on the odds. Focus on your book. That’s the only part that really matters. What Are The Odds Of Getting A Book Deal? Well, you can look at this in two ways. From the agent’s end, it’s probably true that a good agent at a top class agency will sell approximately 2 books for every 3 he or she auctions. That is, the odds of a sale are about 67% – which is why most writers, correctly, think that getting an agent is the most significant hurdle between them and publication. But that’s to look at it from one end only. I spoke recently with one editor, who has a key job at one of London’s best publishers (a major part of a Big 5 house). In effect, that editor is as selective as it gets. These days, he receives, via literary agents, about 12 submissions a week. Those 12 submissions equate to about 600 manuscripts crossing his desk each year. And of those 600 manuscripts, he takes on maybe 3-4 new writers a year. (As well as, of course, continuing to publish the work of his existing stable of authors.) In other words, he buys less than 1% of the work being offered to him. Yikes! These stats are frankly terrifying, but they need to be taken in context. In particular: A smaller or less prestigious publisher will be less selective. Robert Hale (for example) or Choc Lit are decent publishers, but are smaller and less selective than the big guys. They’ll offer much smaller advances to authors and they won’t have the marketing heft of their larger rivals – but if you get an offer from them, it’s still a massive compliment to your work. It’s a real publishing deal and you should be elated.It’s also wrong to conclude that if you have an agent, you have only a 1% chance of getting a top-ranked publisher. It isn’t so. If agents are looking to auction a manuscript, they’ll typically send it out to 8-12 publishers – that is, to all the bigger publishers in town. So while an individual publisher might take just 1% of work submitted, that means an overall success rate of more like 10%. Something similar, of course, applies with submissions to agents.The better the agent, the higher that success rate will be. A top agent will reject any work that doesn’t come up to the right standard, will seize hold of any work that does come to the right standard, and will do so with a strong expectation of selling it. Even then, no agent I know has a 100% record, but the best agents will have a strike rate of well over 10%. So why does my Big 5 editor reject so much of what comes his way? In his opinion – and also mine – agents (mostly less well established ones) are sending work out before it’s properly ready. You don’t want your work set out early, which means it’s time to consider … How To Think About Getting A Book Deal In the end, though, the conclusion has little to do with odds or stats. The 2012 British Olympic team contained 541 athletes. The US Olympic team is that little bit larger. Either way, those numbers are larger than the number of debut novels being listed by elite UK or US publishers today. So you need to be (at least!) an Olympian-of-writing to make the grade. That’s the bad news. The good news is simply this: If you are in the world’s top 20-30 sprinters, you will get selected for the Olympics. If you’ve written one of the best espionage novels of the year, you will get published. In brutal market conditions, the standard required by top publishers is rising all the time, but the best work still gets selected, still attracts advances and investment, still gets published. What you need to worry about more than anything else is the quality of your work. Promising will not do, but dazzling is essential. One further conclusion. We’ve always been against writers sending their work to dozens & dozens of agents. Our own rule of thumb is that if you can’t attract a Yes from an agent in 8-12 (intelligently chosen and properly presented) submissions, then your manuscript is not yet good enough. There will always be exceptions to every rule, but for the most part the rule is a very good one. If you find send submissions to 200 agents, your chances of hooking an agent improve, but I’d say that your chance of getting a publisher remains the same as before. About 0%, if the first 8-12 agents turned you down. A Little Bit Of Boasting That’s not because we’re miracle workers, but because we focus relentlessly on the quality of your work. Which is what you need to do. Do that, add talent and a good idea, and you’ll make the grade. Just keep at it.
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An Interview with Agents on Polishing Submissions

Having shared insights with Festival of Writing 2017 attendees, three agents – Catherine Cho, Sandra Sawicka, Susan Yearwood – sat down with us for an interview on getting agent submissions right, what they’re most moved by, and what they’re looking for in the slush pile. What sort of books do you love receiving? Catherine: I love books that are transportive; with layers and depth, with a compelling story at its heart, those are the novels that I remember. Sandra: I love reading about things I don’t know. It could be a particular setting that is foreign to me, or a character with a weird profession, or completely different set of experiences … worlds for me to explore and learn. Have you ever opened a new manuscript, read a single page, and thought ‘I’m going to end up making an offer on this’? What was it about that page which excited you? Sandra: Yes, first line in fact. It was Paul Crilley’s Poison City where a talking dog tells his owner off for not providing his favourite tipple (sherry). I immediately thought – this is mad, I need to tell everyone. Catherine: I have read manuscripts and been drawn in from the first page – usually from an incredible voice that immediately pulls you in. It’s an exciting feeling, especially after reading so many submissions and to discover something amazing, it’s a bit like falling in love. Are you most drawn to beautiful writing? Or a wonderful plot? Or a stunning premise? Or anything else? Susan: I’m drawn to writing that engages so completely that I’d rather read the submission than do anything else during the course of the day. A good plot and premise are difficult to realise fully without a good sense of place and character in any genre. Catherine: Plot and premise are very important. What I notice is that often, first-time novels don’t have a strong narrative drive, and we need that central conflict or narrative momentum to create a compelling story. Do you need good personal chemistry with your authors? Sandra: I mean, it helps. I usually meet authors before I offer to represent them, to see whether we are on the same page about the edits but also to talk about how I work. Tell us how you like writers to submit work to you and how you’d like them not to submit work? Catherine: I prefer to receive my queries by email with the cover letter, synopsis, and first 3 chapters in the body of the email. Susan: I prefer to see the initial 30-50 pages of a script (or a book proposal with a sample of writing at that length in the case of non-fiction submissions). The covering email (or letter if it’s impossible to send the submission by email) should be brief, with a line about the book, an explanatory paragraph with more detail about the script then a few lines about yourself. Do you have any pet peeves about cover letters? Catherine: I have a couple of pet peeves on cover letters (Dear Sir, in particular), and this is a personal one, but unnecessary autobiographical details. I think a novel, even if it is inspired by personal experiences, should stand for itself. The grim stats: how many submissions do you get per week (or year)? And how many new authors do you take on? Susan: I receive about 80-100 per month, depending on the month. How many new authors I take on depends on the submissions I receive. I am looking to take on more writers in adult fiction and non-fiction than I currently represent and introduce 9-12 age range children’s fiction and teen/YA fiction to my list. Catherine: As I’m building my list, the majority of my writers are from the slush pile or writers I’ve approached from anthologies and writing journals. I receive 50-80 submissions a week, and because I read them all on my own, it means that I’m constantly behind! When did you come into agenting? What did you do before? And why agenting? Susan: In 2007, I founded Susan Yearwood Literary Agency (now Susan Yearwood Agency), having spent part of the early to mid-90s at Virago Books and Penguin. I spent some time outside of publishing and came back to books via agenting to represent the type of writer I enjoyed reading, which, I feel, is the most exciting part of being a literary agent. Catherine: I came into agenting in a roundabout way. After university, I went to law school and tried working in the corporate law world. I then shifted to lobbying and worked for a lobbying firm in Washington DC. After a year at Capitol Hill, I realized that I’d rather lobby for something I believed in, and I decided to try and move to publishing. I hadn’t heard of agenting before, and I initially planned to find a job in editorial. I slept on friends’ couches in New York and had many coffee meetings with different people, and someone suggested that I try to find a job with a literary agency. It sounded like a dream job, and as a bonus, it would mean that I’d also be able to use my legal background. I was lucky enough to become a literary assistant and contracts manager at Folio Literary Management in New York, which was a great introduction to the industry. And then when I moved to London, I joined Curtis Brown as a literary assistant and have been working on building my list. If you had one bit of advice to give to new writers, what would it be? Catherine: My advice to new writers would be to keep writing! Writing and querying is a very subjective business, and the most important thing is to keep going, to keep learning and improving your craft. Read more free advice on submitting to literary agents!
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How to ensure this is the year you get an agent

Those first few days of January make everything seems possible. Finishing your book. Getting a literary agent. Then something will happen that will make that seem less doable. Usually something life-related, but it can also be hitting a wall with edits, or perhaps a rejection email. Ignore it. Getting a literary agent is definitely possible. And this really could be the year. How? Well, let’s say you’ve just finished the first draft of your novel. Here’s how you might have a literary agent before the end of the year. January – Read Your Novel Through. February – Re-plan Your Structure. However much you planned your novel before you started, chances are that it doesn’t look exactly the same now it’s done. That’s okay – it doesn’t need to. What your plot does need to do, is make sense. Make notes on what your plot does at the moment.Read these guides on classic plot structures – does yours match them?Identify the parts of your novel structure that aren’t working as they should.Re-plan your structure. Post-it notes can be really helpful for this part. And use the snowflake method, or you’ll probably go as crazy as a barn owl. March – Implement Your Structural Changes Until Your Plot Is Spot On. Don’t be afraid to delete scenes, or even entire chapters at this point. You can always move them onto another document for use again later, if needs be. Take each new plot point in turn and think about what needs to change with your original draft to make it fit.Make the changes to a new draft document.Again, don’t get bogged down in the details. At this point, you’re really just looking at the bare bones of your plot structure. As you swap things around, you might realise that has ramifications further on in the book – that’s okay. Make a note of them to come back to later. April – Read Your Novel Again, Focusing On Your Character Development. All novels centre around characters that change, and the successful ones emerge from intensive character development work that takes place (ideally) before you start writing your novel. What does your character want in the beginning?How does this change as they go through the novel? Is that believable?What does your character learn at the end? What is the character arc?And what about your secondary characters? If your character journeys don’t quite match up just yet, then go back to the drawing board and ensure your plot makes that happen. Remember – most stories are driven by their characters, not the other way around. Do also remember to check that your key scenes are shown, not told – that is, you need to make sure you have dramatised them on the page in (the fictional version) of real time. Third party reports of what happened aren’t nearly so enticing, to put it mildly. More on showing and telling here. May – Give Your Novel To Another Writer, Or An Editor You Trust. Once you have your structure sorted, it can be really useful to have another pair of eyes on your work. Make sure they know to read only for the plot and not the language.Ask them if they found the characters believable (yes – even elves need realistic character arcs).You don’t need to agree with every comment they make, but it’s worth asking why they made it. If they didn’t like your protagonist, perhaps you need to make it clearer why they should? Once you get your feedback – such as stunningly good quality feedback from our Jericho editors – make the changes you feel will make your novel better. June – Look At The Language. Okay, so now it’s okay to start doing a copy edit. Still, park your typo hunt for the time being and instead focus on some of the larger language issues: How are you telling the story? First person? Past tense? Is this the best way for this story to be told?Is your voice consistent? Write a set of voice rules, such as syntax and grammar. Are these followed throughout?Are your sentences as tight as they could be? Every word you use should have its place in your sentence. If you have any lines that aren’t pulling their weight – get rid of them. Our material on prose style, writing descriptions and dialogue will help remove your worst mistakes – and start giving your whole manuscript a gleam as if of gold … July – Give Your Novel To An Editor, Or Beta Readers. An editor will do wonders for your book. They will spot things you’ve missed in structure, character, dramatisation and things you probably haven’t given much thought to before. This is their job, and they’re good at it. Alternatively, sending your book to family, friends or writing groups can be a good way of getting this feedback. As before, remember that you don’t need to change everything for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about why a reader said what they did. August - Proofread. Your editor or beta readers may well have pointed out a few errors already, but there are always more, hidden away. Try printing your manuscript off. This will help your eye spot the mistakes on the page.Look for inconsistencies. Check your language rules again. Do a ‘Find’ and ‘Replace’ for any mishaps. This stage doesn’t matter as much as you might think. Of course, it’s important that your writing is of a high standard before it’s sent to agents. But it’s much more important to get the story, characters and language right, than it is spotting every typo. September – Start Putting Your Work Out There. Yes – this is the scary bit. But there are ways you can ease yourself in, first. Come to the Festival of Writing. This will tell you everything you need to know about taking this next step and even give you a little help along the way, perhaps via one of our Friday Night Live sessions, or a literary agent 1-2-1.Enter writing competitions. The Bath Novel Award, or the Mslexia Novel Award, perhaps? Even being longlisted for these awards can be a huge boost – not only to your writing CV, but also to your confidence. October – Learn How To Submit To A Literary Agent. If you came to the Festival of Writing, you might already know this stuff. Otherwise, ensure you read everything you can on the rules of submission. There are rules and you do need to follow them to ensure you’re taken seriously. Learn how to write a synopsis, and have a go at making a few of different lengths.Polish up the first five thousand words of your manuscript.Learn how to write a professional query letter. And of course, you’ll be following (rigorously!) our guide on getting literary agents … and using our massive agent FAQs for any questions you may still have. You’ll also be needing our (comprehensive and up to date) lists of US agents and UK agents. November – Submit To Literary Agents. Make a longlist of literary agents who will take your work (try searching for genre via this).Make a shortlist of agents who you like the best – perhaps because you’ve met them at an event, or because they represent books that are similar to yours.Send to the first five of these agents, making sure you follow all the rules to submission. December – Land Your Literary Agent. Sometimes, it can take a while to find the right agent for your book. When you do find the right agent though, they will often know from the very first page that they want to represent you. When this happens: Email the other agents you are waiting to hear back from, letting them know you’ve had an offer of representation. You want to be in a position to choose your favourite, if you can.Meet with the agent(s) and ask them questions about what they can do for you and your book.Sign a deal with the literary agent of your dreams. You’ve probably noticed that the majority of your year will be spent working on your novel. That’s because writing a brilliant book is the best thing you can do to ensure you land a literary agent. The rest, is really just knowing the rules of submission and getting it out there. So – are you ready to ensure this is the year you get an agent? Then let’s go. Success starts now. To see how we could help you get a literary agent this year, have a look round our site.
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US Agents Seeking New Authors

We receive lots of questions, but two of the most common must be: how do you find a literary agent? Do you know literary agents who are taking on new, first-time writers?  There are plenty of ways to figure out which agents represent your genre but finalising your shortlist can be a painstakingly long, dull task. Unless you’re using AgentMatch, that is.     We’ve done all the hard work for you: scoured the four corners of the web for every interview, interesting fact, and noteworthy quote, it’s all there. So, why not take out our 7-day free trial to get complete access to all the US literary agent profiles.   After selecting your country (we advise that US based authors query US based agents), genre or non-fiction subject, you’ll receive a personalised list of suitable agent profiles. Save your search results and work through them one by one, at your own pace. Here’s some names to get you started:  Lauren Bieker  Amelia Appel Joquelle Caiby  Sonali Chanchani Jennifer Kim Kiana Nguyen  Quressa Robinson Need more information? We break everything down in our guide to finding a literary agent – it’s invaluable for all querying authors! How Do You Find An Agent? Nearly all agents take on new authors. If they didn’t, they’d go out of business. It might not happen straightaway, but eventually they will.  It’s important to remember that all agents need to submit to the same group of editors. They’re a small group at that: most books are pitched to 8-12 publishers in the first round of marketing. So, all agents are looking for quality manuscripts. If they find one, and love it, they’ll take it on. If they don’t, they won’t.  It’s somewhat easier to secure a new up-and-coming agent than a giant of the industry. That’s not because quality standards are different – because they’re not – but because newer agents are actively seeking submissions and are prepared to work hard to grow their client list. If you went to such an agent, with a manuscript that was dazzling but still imperfect, then they may be prepared to work with you to fix it. However, a more established agent with an already long client list may regretfully turn the book down.  If you’re looking for an agent who genuinely welcomes first-time authors, rather than just accepting them, it’s a good idea to approach those who don’t necessarily have an established client base. So, you’re looking for agents new to the role, or those who have come into the profession from somewhere else in the industry.  Don’t just query smaller agencies, there are plenty small agencies that already have an extensive client base. Also, larger agencies tend to have more new recruits hungry to build their list. Try not to rule anyone out until you’ve done your research.  As always, these guidelines should be balanced against everything else. Ultimately, you’re looking for an agent who genuinely loves your book and believes they can sell it. The fact that the agent may work for a small or large agency, or maybe new to the game or well-established, doesn’t matter.  You, the book, the agent. If these three things gel, then nothing else matters.  If you keep getting agent rejections or just want to perfect your manuscript first, then it’s time to ask for help. There’s lots of information out there. We’ve helped hundreds of authors in their writing journeys, and we can help you too. So, get in touch. 
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How long does it take to sell a book?

Before answering this question, let’s assume you’ve got an agent. Let’s assume that you’ve done all the editorial work you need to do at this stage. Let’s assume your book is something that has potential global reach, whether fiction or non-fiction. In that case, the process will probably work a little like this. Your agent rounds up a possible 8-12 editors. That’ll mostly be editors who work at large publishers (though often in semi-autonomous imprints or companies), but there’ll be 2-3 smaller independent publishers, as well, more than likely. Your agent will introduce editors to the book, check they’re available (not off on holiday, etc.), then more or less simultaneously get the book to them. (Books used to be sent on paper. These days, it’s often electronic.)You wait. Your agent will be looking for a first offer. As soon as they get an offer:They’ll start calling everyone on the list, setting deadlines, coaxing offers, etc. A book auction chemistry is critical and delicate. Get three rival offers from three rival publishers, and you should do well, except many notionally independent publishers are connected (e.g. Transworld, Orion, Hodder, Headline), and these guys don’t bid against each other. A smaller publisher (Quercus, Faber, Profile, Atlantic) may be a wonderful publisher, but they won’t be able to fight the bigger ones on advances, so a financial outcome does depend very much on where interest lies.Then your agent will call for ‘best and final’ bids, then close a deal.A contract may take a while to follow. I’ve known it take as long as 6 months, but a verbal agreement is nevertheless something you can depend on. These agreements should never sour. So much for your home nation deal (i.e. the UK if you’re British, US if you’re American). Your agent will then start to target major overseas markets. Most agencies will have someone in charge of foreign rights, who’ll be talking to publishers or sub-agents in Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Spain. Your agent will also have a sub-agent in the US (if she’s British) or the UK (if she’s not). That sub-agent will be also start sending your book around. Note it’s often easier for US authors to get a UK deal, and harder the other way around. What’s more, books that seem obviously US-friendly are oftener ones that make no impact. Ones that seem obscurely British or quirky often do well (Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is a famous example). And once those major markets have been dealt with, your agency’s attention will start to turn to other areas where small but meaningful deals can be done. India and China, by the way, may well buy your book, but mightn’t do so for much money. I This entire process can easily take about a year, perhaps more. And by the time the last paperback publication advance drops into your account, you’re quite likely not just onto your next book, but the one after that. Good luck!
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A rejection letter to avoid

In 2014, I came across a rejection letter from a, once half-decent, literary agency that ran in full like this: Dear John Many thanks for this. The writing is strong and the storyline intriguing. I have to tell you however, that agents are finding novels, even intelligently written commercial work like this, harder to place nowadays. Publishers are so subjective and only concerned with the bottom line. What I can do is to suggest an organisation who, for a reasonably low fee will make the full arrangements to ensure a full Kindle publication of your work. What is more, they will edit as well – obviously not a radically comprehensive edit – to a thoroughly presentable standard. Many Kindle books are going on at a later stage to traditional publication or Print on Demand. Their fee is just £950 and you get a free Kindle as well. Let me know if you would like me to put you in touch with them. OR There is a publisher we deal with now, (not vanity) who have taken some of my more worthwhile mss and I believe they will promote and publicise properly. They do charge a fee (£4,500 – refundable to you after sales of just 2,000) but I believe it is an acceptable deal as the writer enjoys a far better rate of royalties. One of my authors who has taken advantage of this, is Provost of one of the oldest Oxford colleges and is a knight of the realm. His work has just been nominated for an award for Political Fiction. My most recent was a High Court Judge. Let me know if you would like me to submit [novel title] to them. Very best wishes [Name] of Futerman Rose & Associates This letter was copied from Novel Rejects blog (my thanks to it for existing). I hope you don’t need me to tell to you that this is a poor letter for any agent to send. Also, do I think that Oxford Provosts and High Court Judges fall for this kind of nonsense? Lord help us all if they do, but perhaps they do. I alerted the Association of Authors Agents about this letter and letters such as this are, in my opinion, emphatically contrary to their Code of Conduct (certainly in spirit, probably in letter, too.). In the meantime, probably useful to rehearse the basics once more. If you want to find a literary agent, you do so like this, and if you want to know what a literary agent does, he or she will do this. And on the question of reading fees and all that, just remember the rules of the road. These can be found over here.
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How To Meet Literary Agents

Loads of new writers will be frustrated by the impersonal quality of the typical agent submission procedure. You send off your stuff – spend up to eight weeks waiting to hear something – then get back a pre-printed, slightly cold rejection letter. It feels so dispiriting, so unconstructive. Naturally, you can’t really blame agents. They handle a heck of a lot of submissions. They simply don’t have the time to respond personally to each one. What’s more, in the end, only one thing really, truly, absolutely matters – namely, how good your manuscript is. If your manuscript is fantastic, it will be taken on. If it isn’t, then no amount of networking will make the difference. So the first comment is a really simple one. Make sure your manuscript is as strong as it can possibly be. If that means using outside help (as for example the sort that we offer), use outside help. There’s no reason not to. Remember in particular that agents are not there to offer editorial advice (or at least, not until the manuscript is very close to the right quality already). If what you want is professional editorial feedback, then go to people who offer that as their core service. You will need to pay but you can get excellent, detailed, honest advice. It’s what you need. But assuming that you’ve done all that, making a personal connection with a literary agent can make a huge difference. But there are ways to do it and ways not to do it. Certainly, for example, you should not simply call an agent at work to request a meeting. These are busy people and you’re not a client. The agent will say no, and be annoyed at you for asking. Pouncing on an agent at some non-literary event. If you happen to have a friend who knows a literary agent, then introduce yourself when the opportunity arises. But be sensitive. Say, ‘I’m writing a book, I wonder if it might be possible to talk to you about it?’ That way, you are making it easy for the agent to say yes or not. They won’t feel trapped or pounced on. You’re giving yourself a chance, precisely by not being too pushy. But the best ways of connecting with agents is to go through the proper channels. If, for example, you are attending an event where an agent is a guest speaker, then you should certainly feel free to go up to the agent after the event and make their acquaintance. Again, be sensitive to what they want, but if they have come to this event in their capacity as an agent, they won’t be at all miffed to be approached. If you can offer to buy the agent a drink, you should do so – the nicer you are, the more they’ll warm to your ideas about your book. Better still, you should book up for an event which is all about writing and publishing – a writers’ conference, in fact. We run plenty of these events and they have been amazingly good at generating book deals. They work because agents are there to talk to writers and locate talent. If you can, make sure you go to a conference which is full board, or residential. That way, there’ll be entire days for you to meet agents, talk to them, buy them drinks, sit with them at lunch, and so on. If your book is strong, and you are charming, you have every chance that those contacts will flower into success. I hope so.
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7 Novel-Opening Mistakes That Make Literary Agents (and Readers) Groan

At our annual Festival of Writing, we’ve hosted a number of panels with literary agents that give writers the chance to meet, talk and ask questions. (And if you’d like to be one of the first to get Festival of Writing news, including discounts, the best way is to sign up for emails or become a Jericho Writers member.) We have ended past agent panels with a scary-but-brilliant session called Slushpile Live, where some very brave writers stand up, read the first few paragraphs of their work, then get live feedback – X-Factor style – from the assembled agents. One of the main purposes of Slushpile Live is to get writers to understand that a piece of writing shows its quality very quickly indeed. (Which means, by the way, if you are entering any Festival competitions yourself – read your writing aloud before you submit anything.) If the first few paragraphs smell wrong, the whole book is going to be wrong. If, on the other hand, there’s a sense of excitement around those opening paragraphs, you can bet that the writer has real quality. That doesn’t mean that everything’s definitely fine thereafter – a plot might vanish, there might be a confusing sprawl of characters, the basic concept might even be wrong – but at least you know you’re in the hands of someone with genuine talent. That said, let’s jump straight to insider tips that, time and again, caused our panels of agents to groan. 7 Novel Starts To Make An Agent Groan Or eight, really. One good way to earn a rejection would be to write terribly, but that doesn’t apply to you and it’s too obvious to include. So seven it is. 1) Dreams and Wake-ups There’s no question that this opening must be the least popular possible gambit with agents. It induced a kind of no-no-no from agents every time it came up – and one of our panellists reckoned she saw these kind of openings in as many as 1 in 8 manuscripts. And yours needs to stand out. Those dreams-to-waking-up moments are just terrible ways to begin a book. Partly because they’re just so common but also because they give the reader a false start. The beginning of a book is where you most want to get the reader involved as quickly as possible and those false starts are achieving the exact opposite of that goal. In other words, they put off the moment when a reader feels “in” the story, and you want that moment to come as soon as possible. 2) Starting Your Book Too Early A playwriting colleague of mine used to ask her students to share the strongest introductory scenes from their works-in-progress and any time someone submitted something that wasn\'t the first scene of the play, she would tell them to cut the earlier scenes and start with the scene they\'d submitted. You want to start at the closest possible moment to the beginning of your story -- so if your story gets started with, let\'s say, Jilly finding a letter sent from her dead husband... don\'t start your novel with five pages of Jilly waking up, thinking about her day, brushing her teeth, making breakfast, dropping her daughter at school, stopping by the bank, and no sign of the letter until god-knows-when. Readers are hungry for story and they won\'t wait for several pages. They might not even wait for one -- so get your reader interested in the first paragraph, or even the first line. 3) Rushing the Punchline If the first two errors have to do with going too slow, this one has to do with going too fast. I once saw an opening page from a new writer that was, in so many ways, a fabulous opening. It was a description of a young woman in Victorian-era New York getting ready to go out. The period wasn’t directly mentioned, but it was suggested by lovely, tactfully-chosen detail. The description of the light and the smells were just right. We felt we already knew something of the woman, thanks to the strength and precision of her voice. Oh, and there was that lovely sniff of story as well. Part of her routine involved winding a bandage around her breasts, in order to flatten her chest and give her the figure of a slender young man. And then I hit the end of that first page, where the writer went from seeding hints of story (why is she passing as a man? who is she? where is she headed?) to delivering an expository ramble that read something like, \"It was necessary for me to dress as a man because when I\'d arrived in New York two years before, I soon discovered that there was painful little employment for a lone female and so I began to disguise myself as a man and...\" So much of the mystery that had been seeded into the opening paragraphs was trampled over by the too-hurried reveal. If the readers wants to know something, that’s great, but don’t be fool enough to tell them. Of course, you will need to reveal some answers at some point -- but you should only reveal them once you’ve had time to build other little motors to drive that reader-interest, like introducing some other characters, setting up an intriguing situation, or just generally getting yourself much further into your opening setup. 4) Jumping Scenes Another thing that really doesn’t work is jump-cutting too often in the opening pages. It might work in movies (although, does it?) but on the page it\'s quite a bit more confusing. It\'s quite common to see an author to structure their opening like this: Quick-fire 350 word prologue that is a jump-forward to some exciting scene later in the book.Key scene between protagonist, Jed, and his boss at work.Scene with Jed’s future love-interest, Cara, on a bus in the Kalahari.Then there’s some key backstory involving Jed.Then the book actually starts. Now obviously this kind of setup is a good example of starting too early – but it’s not just that the start of things proper is delayed, it’s also that the reader experience is fractured. Remember that it can be hard for a reader to get into a new novel. On line 1, page 1, the reader doesn’t know the protagonist, their situation, maybe even the setting or the era. The more you break up the opening sequence, the more times you are asking the reader to make the investment of figuring everything out again. (Oh, who is this? Cara? Hmm, she’s new. Does she connect to Jed? Don’t know.) Of course a reader is willing to put some work in, but don’t push it. The more fractured your opening, the more at risk you are losing them. 5) Too Many Characters Don’t crowd your opening page or two with too many characters. It’s the same issue as we’ve just discussed. Your reader is doing plenty of work already, figuring out where they are, what the situation is and so forth. Don’t make the reader also try to keep track of multiple people (especially ones with similar names). Just keep it simple until you’ve hooked your reader. Then you can start to complicate things. For a similar reason, you shouldn’t jump points of view too much (or perhaps at all) in your opening section. Let the reader get into the book, then they’ll be ready to start to explore the minds of other key characters. If you rush that process, you will lose your reader. 6) Too Many Words We\'re writers, so of course we\'re in love with words. I, too, have been there: you\'ve written a really beautiful sentence that expresses a particular mood or thought... and then you follow it up with seven more sentences that bash away, less gracefully, at the same thought. Or maybe that three-line sentence could actually be ten words and flow much nicer. You cannot edit your work too hard. And you absolutely cannot edit your opening page too hard. Although it’s easy to think only about word count, what you’re really looking for is beautiful writing. Chop out anything that’s wrong, or rewrite it. Get rid of any surplus. It\'s likely that you could cut 25-30% of your opening page and only make it better -- or at least you\'ll know then that every word is pulling equal weight. 7) Too Big, Too Soon One of the brave writers we had read at the Festival of Writing delivered an opening paragraph that involved a widower looking round the room he had shared with his dead wife, musing on her memory, then going into the bathroom to give himself a handjob. Now, we’re not prudish, nor are agents – indeed, we like big, bold, daring storytelling. But sex and violence can be off-putting until it’s set in the context of a specific character and their situation. We\'re rarely there at the end of the first page, let alone the first paragraph -- so keep your powder dry until your reader is emotionally prepared for the fireworks. An Exception Listen, there will always be exceptions to all of these rules. Paul Kingsnorth\'s The Wake throws its reader into the deep end of language and setting, leaving you to pick up his hybridized Old English as you hear the narrator talking about plot points and characters you couldn\'t possibly grasp off the bat -- and Toni Morrison\'s Paradise begins indelibly with the lines, \"They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time.\" But they\'re exceptions to the rules, these great novels, written by great writers so in command of their craft that they\'re able to take a risk and have it pay off -- and you can bet that they all edited the daylights out of their novels (see rule number 6). Your novel will tell you whether or not it can pull off an opening trick like that, but only if you\'re absolutely sure you\'re listening closely! And even if it can... why not give these tweaks a shot to see if it gets even stronger? Best of luck!
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Literary agents for paranormal romances

All stories share a simple common structure, right? So the simplest way to outline your novel (or any type of story) is to use that universal template by way of scaffolding. And you do need to use some kind of novel outline before you start writing. Plotting a novel from scratch? Imagining the whole thing in your head before you start? That’s hard. Or, scratch that, it’s pretty much impossible. So don’t do it. Cheat. Use a simple, dependable template to build an outline of your novel, then slowly fill out the detail. Yes, filling in the detail can be a slow and tricky process. But you don’t care. Because if your basic outline is strong (and the idea that lies behind it is strong), you can’t really go wrong. And figuring out that template and how best to use it is exactly what we’re going to do in this post. (Or – full disclosure – it’s what you’re going to do. We’ll just help a little on the way . . .) Novel Outline Template In A Nutshell You just need to figure out: Main character (who leads the story)Status Quo (situation at the start)Motivation (what your character wants)Initiating incident (what disturbs the status quo)Developments (what happens next)Crisis (how things come to a head)Resolution (how things resolve) What A Story Template Looks Like Use a simple plot outline to get your ideas straight Let’s start simple. And that means, yep, that YOU need to start simple. Get a sheet of paper or notebook and have it by you as you work your way through this post. Ready? Pencil sharp and ready to go? So do this: Write down the following headings: Main characters Status Quo Motivation Initiating Incident Developments Crisis Resolution Simple right? And now sketch in your answers in as few words as possible. That means a maximum of 1-2 sentence for each heading there. If that seems a little harsh, then I’ll allow you 3 sentences for the “Developments” section: that’s where the bulk of your book is going to lie. But that’s all. At this stage, we don’t want complex. Complex is our enemy. We’ll get there soon enough, but for now just think, Structure-structure-structure. Too much complexity – all that intricate plot detail – just gets in the way of finding the actual bones of your novel. (Oh, and I don’t want to digress too much, but that same basic template works if you want to build a scene, or write a synopsis, or structure a key piece of dialogue. In fact, it’s just like this universal unlocking device for pretty much any structural challenge in fiction. Good to know, huh?) The Novel Template: An Example You probably want an example of what your outline should look like, right? OK. So let’s say your name was Jane Austen and you had a great idea for a story about a prideful guy and a charming but somewhat prejudiced girl. Your story outline might look something like this: CharacterElizabeth (Lizzy) Bennet, one of five daughters in Regency England. Status QuoLizzy and her sisters will be plunged into poverty if her father dies, so they need to marry (and marry well) MotivationLizzy wants to marry for love. Initiating IncidentTwo wealthy gentlemen, Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy, arrive. DevelopmentsLizzy meets proud Mr Darcy and dashing stranger Mr Wickham. She despises Mr Darcy and likes Mr Wickham. She discovers Darcy loves her and that Wickham isn’t all he seems. CrisisLizzy’s sister elopes, threatening the social ruin of her family. It now looks like Lizzy can’t marry anyone. ResolutionMr Darcy helps Lizzy’s sister. Lizzy agrees to marry him, deciding now that she loves him, after all. Now that’s easy, right? That’s the whole of Pride and Prejudice in a nutshell, and it was easy. You just need to do the same with your book or your idea, and keep it really simple. In fact, if you struggle to know everything that goes in the ‘developments’ section, you can even drop in some placeholder type comments. If you were Jane Austen you might, for example, start out by saying something like “Lizzy breaks with Wickham, because it turns out he’s a bad guy. He killed someone? Stole money? Something else? Something to think about.” And that’s fine. Don’t worry about any blanks. It’s like you’re building a tower and you’re missing one of the girders. But by getting everything else in place and putting a “girder needs to go here” sign up, the structure is still brilliantly clear. That’s all you need (for now.) Oh, and don’t bother separating those down into chapters just yet, you can worry about that later – but when you do, read this, it’s really useful! Finally, don’t complicate things if you don’t want to, but if you find it helpful to add a “character development” heading, then you should do that as well. Effectively, you’re extending your novel outline template to cover not just plot movements, but character development too – a brilliant all-in-one tool. Developing Your Story Outline Taking your template on to the next level Now, OK, you might feel that our template so far is just a little too basic. Which it is. So let’s develop the structure another notch, and what we’re going to do now is to add in anything we know about subplots – or basically any story action that you DO know about, which doesn’t fit neatly into the above plot structure. So if you were Jane Austen, and had a good handle on your story, you might put together something like this. (Oh, and we’ve called them sub-plots, but you can call them story strands, or story elements, or anything that feels right to you.) Subplot 1Jane Bennet (Lizzy’s caring sister) and Mr Bingley fall in love, but Bingley moves away, then comes back. Jane and Bingley marry. Subplot 2Lydia Bennet (Lizzy’s reckless sister) elopes with Wickham. She is later found and helped by Darcy. Subplot 3Odious Mr Collins proposes marriage to Lizzy. She says no. Her more pragmatic friend, Charlotte Lucas, says yes. Notice that we’re not yet trying to mesh those things together. In fact, the way we’ve done it here Subplot 3 (which happens in the middle of the book) comes after Subplot 2 (which comes at the end). But again: don’t worry. Sketch your additional story material down as swiftly as neatly as Miss Austen has just done it. The meshing together – the whole business of getting things in the right order, getting the character motivations perfectly aligned and all that – that’ll do your brain in. Yes, you have to get to it at some stage. But not now. Keep it simple, and build up. And that actually brings us to another point. How To Use Subplots If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice, you’ll know perfectly well that our outline so far still misses out masses of stuff. There’s nothing on where the novel is set. Or why or how events unfurl. It doesn’t say a thing about character relations, why each feels as they do. There’s nothing to say on character development, subtleties, supporting cast, and so on. And that’s fine to start with. It’s actually good. What does matter, however is your character’s motivation. Taking one subplot above as example, Charlotte wants security through marriage to Mr Collins. Lizzy, however, rejects her friend’s rationale. Charlotte’s marriage reaffirms Lizzy’s romantic values and, crucially, also throws her in Mr Darcy’s way again later in the book. Now that’s interesting stuff, but if a subplot doesn’t bear on a protagonist’s ability to achieve their goal or goals, that subplot must be deleted or revised. Luckily, though, our story structure template helps you avoid that pitfall in the first place. In fact, here are two rules that you should obey religiously: If you’re outlining a plot for the first time. Pin down your basics, then build up subplots and so on.If you have already started your manuscript and you think you’re uncertain of your plot structure, stop – and follow the exercises in this post, exactly as you would if you hadn’t yet written a word. And do actually do this. As in pen-and-paper do it, not just “think about it for a minute or two then go on Twitter.” The act of writing things out will be helpful just in itself. The act of writing always is. Plotting Your Novel: The Template Remember as well that every subplot (or story strand, or whatever you want to call them) has its own little journey. Maybe a very simple one, but it’ll have its own beginning, middle and end. Its own structure of Initiating Incident / Developments / Crisis / Resolution. So you may as well drop everything you have into the grid below. (If you want to adapt that grid a little, then do, but don’t mess around with it toooo much. The basic idea there is golden.) Main PlotSubplot 1Subplot 2Subplot 3Initiating IncidentMAIN PLOTCRISISRESOLUTION If you’ve got more complexity to accommodate than this allows, take care. No matter how sprawling an epic you’re writing, you need to be able to identify the essence or heart of the story you’re writing, so try paring your novel down – you can always add more details and columns after. What would your story look like, if you did this? How To Further Develop Your Plot Outline Advanced techniques for writing ninjas What happens if your plot doesn’t fit into that grid? If you give that exercise your very best go and just draw a blank? Well, no worries. The basic problems here are twofold: You don’t yet understand your plot well enough, orYou just don’t have enough plot to sustain a full-length novel. Two different problems. Two different solutions. If you don’t yet understand your own plot in enough detail, you want to use … Plot-building Tool: The Snowflake Method Seeing your own plot in detail, before you write the book, is really hard, because it’s like you’re standing on the seashore trying to jump onto Mount Everest. In one bound. Not gonna work. So get there in stages, Base Camp. Camp 1, and so on up. What that means for you, is that you use our basic template in sketch form to start with – a sentence or two per section. Then you go at it again, and give each section its own paragraph. Then you go at it again, expanding to 2-3 paragraphs, or whole pages if you want to. The same basic exercise, but getting into deeper levels of detail each time. If you want more about the “snowflake” approach you can find it right here. OK. But what if your plot outline just feels a little bit thin once you sketch it out? Answer you fix it – and you fix it NOW before you start hurtling into the task of actually writing. Here are the techniques you’ll need to do just that: Method 1: Mirroring This doesn’t mean tack on needless bits and pieces – characters shouting at each other for effect, etc. – but add depth and subplots, developing the complexity of your protagonist’s story. (Remember: if it’s not contributing to your protagonist’s journey, it doesn’t matter and you need to delete it.) To take another novel – supposing your name is Harper Lee, and your story is the tale of a girl named Scout – let’s say Scout’s spooked by an odd but harmless man living on her street. It’s fine, though there’s not yet enough complexity yet to carry a novel, so complicate it. One thought is giving her a father figure, say a lawyer, named Atticus. (Harper Lee herself was daughter of a small-town lawyer.) He’s fighting to defend a man accused of something he obviously didn’t do. Targeted for who he is, rather than anything he’s done. A black guy accused for looking different? An odd-but-harmless guy who spooks Scout? It’s straightforward, tragic mirroring. Atticus’ fight is lost, the stories interweave, and Scout learns compassion in To Kill A Mockingbird. Introducing that second, reverberating plot strand meant that Harper Lee’s novel had the heft to become a classic of world literature. Method 2: Ram Your Genre Into Something Different Another way to complicate your plot is to throw action into a different genre – such as sci-fi, fantasy or crime. So take The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. Looked at one way, that’s a pretty much standard issue romantic story, which, yes, could have sold, but could never have made the huge sales it actually racked up. But then ram that into a story of time-travel, and you have something shimmeringly new and exciting. What you had was still a romantic story at its heart – it certainly wouldn’t appeal to hardcore fans of SF/fantasy – but the novel element gave it a totally new birth. Or take Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters. A picaresque Victorian historical novel . . . that kind of thing always had its audience – but that audience had never encountered a frankly told lesbian coming-of-age story in that context, and the result of that shock collision was to produce a literary sensation. Method 3: Take Your Character And Max Her Out Why was it that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo went on to get such gigantic sales across the globe? It wasn’t the quality of Stieg Larsson’s writing, which was never more than competent and which was quite baggy, to say the least. And the actual plot? Well, on the face of it, he delivered a fairly standard issue crime story. Nothing so unusual there in terms of actual narrative. But Stieg Larsson rammed that basic story with an exotic character: Lisbeth Salander. That woman had Aspergers, she was a bisexual computer hacker and rape survivor . . .and boom – vast worldwide sales resulted. Method 4: Add Edge – A Glint Of Steel A few years back, I was struggling with one of my books, This Thing of Darkness. (here) The basic plot was strong. The mystery element was good. There was at least one quite unusual element. The climax was rip-roaring (set on a trawler at sea in a force 10 gale.) But . . . The book wasn’t quite working. It was long. And it was just a long, long way from the set-up phase of the book to the denouement. My solution? A glint of steel. I took an incident from the middle of the book – a break-in, and a theft, but no violence, no real time action – and I turned that into a long sequence involving the abduction of my protagonist. That addition made a long book even longer . . . but it made the book. It’s not just that the sequence itself was exciting, it’s that its shadow extended over everything else too. Whereas before the book had felt a bit like, “yep, gotta solve the mystery, because that’s what these books have to do.” Now it was: “We HAVE TO solve that mystery, because these bastards abducted our protagonist.” Steel. Edge. Sex or violence. Those things work in crime novels , but they work in totally literary works too. Can you imagine Ian McEwan’s Atonement without that glint of sex? Would The Great Gatsby have worked if no one had died? How To Write A Plot From Multiple Perspectives If you’re eager to write about multiple protagonists, you need a plot outline, along the lines of the template above, for each one. George R.R. Martin took this to new levels in A Song of Ice and Fire, each protagonist having his or her own richly developed plot and character arc. John Fowles’ The Collector, for example, is narrated by a kidnapper and the girl he’s kidnapped. Sullen, menacing Fred justifies all he does. Miranda chronicles her fear and pity. The result is taut, terrifying. We’re engrossed in their shared experience to the end. Multiple protagonists can work in romance novels, too, even ones told in third-person narration, such as The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, or Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This said, managing multiple points of view, even from minor characters, can work well for thrillers, often driven by the drip-drip-drip of information release (though these things depend on story, as much as genre). The key thing to bear in mind here is that you need a mini version of your novel outline template for each of your main characters. Each one of those guys needs a complete little story of their own – and those little stories need to interweave to create one great and compelling one. More About Plotting How to write seven basic plotsHow to chart your plot mountain or plot diagramHow to fix your plot problemsUsing internal and external conflict in genre writingHow to write beginnings, middles and endsThe Power of Story and Discourse by Allie Spencer
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Do I need a literary agent to get published?

A common question for all new writers and the answer (almost always) is yes. Let’s start by reviewing what agents are there to do, though. What Literary Agents Do They have several main roles: Selecting saleable manuscripts from all those submitted. Under 1% of manuscripts are strong enough to sell.Working with the author to get the manuscript in perfect condition to sell. That can mean extensive editorial work, likely lasting a period of months.Identifying the right editors at the right publishing houses for your book. An agent needs excellent contacts and to keep those contacts up to date. It also means understanding the current market for fiction and non-fiction, making sure that your book is in tune with that market.Conducting an auction. There’s no single way to sell a book. Your agent needs to choose the right way, then sell it professionally, with drive and conviction.Negotiating a contract. Publishing contracts are long and technical. Additionally, with the advent of ebooks, those contracts are changing fast and key terms are constantly moving. So you do need an expert on your side.Making foreign sales, and handling film and TV rights. Again, that’s a complex business involving expertise and strong contacts.Guiding your career. In the long term, a good agent should be nudging your career in the right directios and keeping you away from wrong turns. Writing is an insecure business, so a good agent can make a difference. All that might may make you think that you need an agent under any circumstances – but agents make their fees on sales they make. Typically speaking, they take a 15% commission. Agents need to live, too, so won’t have an interest in representing you if there is no realistic prospect of them making money. You Do Need A Literary Agent If: You are writing a novel.You are writing commercial non-fiction (the sort of thing that might be sold at the front of a shop, or feature on a bestseller list).You are writing fiction for children.You are writing a ‘how to’ type book in a major category (such as health and well-being). You Do Not Need A Literary Agent If: You are intending to self-publish.You are writing poetry.You are writing one-off short stories.You are writing journalism.You are writing specialist or academic non-fiction. In all those cases, there won’t be enough money to interest an agent and you should approach the appropriate publishers directly. You May Need A Literary Agent If: You are writing children’s picture books. I’d probably recommend having an agent to start with, but you could go either way.You are writing a themed collection of short stories. Such collections are hard to sell, but not impossible. A truly good collection may attract an agent. Anything less than wonderful won’t. And, as ever, don’t forget that if you need feedback, advice, or help with literary agents, we’re here to supply that. Sign up for emails for more on how to get a literary agent, or have a look at more free advice. Very best of luck. More On Finding An Agent Link to: How to Find a Literary Agent (the Simple 8 Step Guide) Find An Agent In eight simple steps
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9 ways to persuade an agent to take you on

I recently came across a useful article by Rachelle Gardner, an American agent, about how to get literary agents to represent you. She advertised 13 sure fire ways to get representation … but I have to say that not all of them struck me as realistic. Here’s my edited version of her list, with some comments. The good news is there are perhaps only nine things to worry about, not the thirteen Rachelle mentions. And if nine is still too many for you, the crucial point’s right at the end of this piece. Good luck and here’s how to get that agent. 1. A Fresh Idea This matters a lot, no matter what genre or market you are writing for. I was at a crime festival at the weekend where panellists complained about the glut of serial killers, weird murders and by-the-book procedurals that came out a few years ago. For sure, there are still top ten bestsellers writing exactly those kind of books. But they rose to the top, when that kind of writing still felt fresh and new. If you were a debut novelist, writing the exact same material, you would struggle to sell it today. Is that unfair? No! They wrote fresh work for the market as it was at the time. You need to do the same today. 2.Get Your Submission Right This matters, too. Look at what an agent asks for on their website and submit that exact material in the exact way specified. Even if that doesn’t seem to suit your plan or your book, you need to comply anyway. For now, you must realise there is absolutely nothing special about your manuscript and you must get in line with everyone else. Oh, and don’t muck up the covering letter or your synopsis. These things are easy to get right. We’ve got a simple guide to writing your query letter, we’ve got a sample query letter page, and we’ve got a guide to writing your novel synopsis. Simple. 3. Know Your Audience If you are writing fantasy fiction, you have to be a student of the genre. You have to know the classics. You have to know the modern twists on the classics. You have to know the market the way readers do – by reading masses and masses. The same goes for any other genre, including non-fiction. If you are writing a book about quantum theory, let’s say, you just have to know what other people have done, what approaches they took – and ensure that yours is different, new and compelling. All that starts with knowing your area. 4. Have Some Social Media Presence Here’s all you need to know about social media presence: If you have blog traffic in the 100,000s and Twitter followers in the 10,000s, and if your book is directly related to that traffic/following. (e.g.: if you’re a motorsport guru and your book is on motorsport), then your social media presence will help sell your book.If your traffic is not on that scale, then publishers won’t really care about it. Nor will they expect you to have traffic on that scale. Most authors just don’t.And if you’re writing a novel, who cares? I just don’t know how that myth gets propounded. Your agent submission, your story, is what’ll get you published. 5. Have An Impressive Platform This is true for some non-fiction authors, but that’s it. I wrote a history book without having any platform at all. No blog, no followers, no mailing list, no academic credentials in the field, not even a history A-level. That shows that, even with a serious subject, a good idea allied to good writing is all you need. That said, if you do have a strong platform (blog/mailing list/etc), it will help. Even so, this point only applies to non-fictioneers, and usually then only if the topic is of relatively focused interest, rather than broad popular appeal. 6. Include Links To Videos Where Agents Can See You Speaking Sorry, but no, this just doesn’t matter. No agent or publisher has ever asked me for this. I’ve done a few festival gigs myself, but the total book sales from those events probably numbers in the mere dozens of copies. Of course, publishers and agents would prefer a confident public performer to a stuttering, sweating wreck, but it’s just not a significant factor in anyone’s acquisition decision. 7. Show Some Familiarity With Today’s Marketing Requirements For Authors Nope, again, just not a real issue. I’ve recently published crime novels in the UK and the US. Neither publisher has asked me to tweet about the books, to do anything to support the books on Facebook, to promote them via blogs or mailing lists. I have, in fact, done a few things on those fronts, but they don’t make a big heap of difference and publishers just don’t care. It’s not what sells books. And how could it? Let’s say you have a Twitter following of 100,000 people. Let’s say you tweet about your new novel several times to those 100,000. You can’t do it more often than that because you’d look like a pushy moron. Most of your followers won’t even see your tweets, because following someone means dipping in now and again; it doesn’t mean reading every single tweet. I doubt if you would get more than 1-5,000 eyeballs maximum looking at your please-read-my-book tweet, but let’s say 10,000 to be generous. Of those 10,000, you would do very well to convert even 1% into an actual buy decision. (And that 1% is a lot higher than the average ad-conversion rate online. It’s higher by about 1-2 orders of magnitude.) So 1% of 10,000 views is 100 book sales. Great. No one says no to selling 100 books. But from a publisher’s perspective, that’s a mere dop in the ocean of what they need to achieve. So they don’t care about your Twitter following. They. Just. Don’t. Care. 8. Show A Cursory Acquaintance With The Agent You’re Pitching To Yes, kind of. It certainly helps if there’s a little personal something in your covering letter, but only a bit. And if you’re struggling to say anything, then don’t worry about it. My literary agent, Bill Hamilton, represents Hilary Mantel, and I’ll bet that a large fraction of letters addressed to him say, ‘Dear Mr Hamilton, As you’re a fan of historical fiction, such as that written by Hilary Mantel, I’m hoping that you’ll be interested in my book …’ And what does that mean, really? It means that you’ve picked one starry name from a much longer client list and that you’ve done so because someone told you that you had to find some way to personalise your letter. If there’s an angle which feels natural and authentic, then mention it. Otherwise don’t. It’s that simple. 9. Visit The Agent’s Blog Very few agents in the UK have a blog, so good luck with that. Obviously, if they do, then visit it. But see my comment above: natural and authentic is good. Anything else is not. 10.Take The Craft Of Writing Seriously I’m surprised this is at number 10. You must be serious about the craft. That means copyediting and presentation have to be very good (but not, at this stage, perfect). It also means that you need to have structurally edited your manuscript so it is in good shape. 11. Know Your Competition This is the same as 3 above. 12. Present Yourself Professionally Yes. Gimmickry or forced humour in your opening approach to agents won’t feel great in the cold light of a Monday morning. Keep it professional. 13. Have A Great Book The only thing that really, really matters. If you have a truly dazzling book you could have no social media profile at all, be all but mute in the presence of other people, know nothing about your agent, and still get taken on and do very well indeed. (But your book had better be really, really, really good.) Happy writing! More On Finding An Agent Link to: How to Find a Literary Agent (the Simple 8 Step Guide) Find An Agent In eight simple steps
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Harry Bingham’s 45 Tips To Help You Find Your Literary Agent

If you make it as a writer, it is highly likely that your relationship with a literary agent will be the most enduring and important of your entire career – so the decisions you make at this stage really matter! The tips below won’t guarantee you that you find the right agent for you, but if you follow them carefully, they will help your chances of doing so. Keep reading – and good luck! How To Choose Your Agent Shortlist 1. Know your genre In finding agents, you need to have a reasonable understanding of your own genre. In some cases, that’s clear. (Got a detective? You’re writing crime.) In other cases, it’s not – in which case, you’re probably writing general, contemporary fiction. Which is fine. Not all work has a very specific genre. But if you’re in this broad, general category, it helps to know if your work is more commercial or more literary. If it’s in between (thoughtful, but accessible) you can describe your work as ‘suitable for book groups’. That’s a hot area for literary agents, so do use the phrase if it applies to you. (Whenever you search for agents through us, be sure to select your genre before making use of other filters.) 2. Don’t box yourself in Plenty of work falls on boundaries between different territories. For example, if you are writing a near-future thriller, you could equally well describe your work as sci-fi, or as a techno-thriller. An agent who did like thrillers but didn’t normally handle space-opera type SF might well be interested. It’s fine to approach agents who work on either side of your boundary. Other common areas of overlap might be “chick-lit noir”, so look at all the genre options. Be willing to think about agents who work in areas adjacent to your own. 3. Don’t search for specialists Most agents don’t specialise. My own literary agent handles high end literary fiction, and serious non-fiction, and popular non-fiction, and chick-lit, and crime. What’s more, he handles bestselling writers in most of those categories. The lesson for you is simple: you need an agent who is open to your genre. You do not need one who specialises in it. 4. Don’t look for an agent who is local to you Most agents work in London. Most writers live elsewhere. But agents only congregate in London because that’s where the publishers are. Since you want your agent to really, really know the publishing industry, you shouldn’t select one on the basis of how close they live to you. Truth is, you won’t see your agent face to face all that much – and when you do, it’ll mostly be because you’re seeing your publisher. The only real exception to this rule has to do with Scottish writers, who may prefer an Edinburgh-based agent, simply because travel to London is so expensive and time-consuming. Even then … all the big publishers are based in London. Personally, I’d want my agent to know those guys intimately. 5. You want an agent who wants you Every world has its superstars, and there exists a handful of superstar agents with high name recognition. But those guys have starry names because their client lists bulge with bestsellers. Realistically, those guys are much less likely to offer you representation and they will have much less time to offer you if they do. 99% of new writers (and maybe 99.9% of them) will be better off with an agent who is genuinely eager for their business. You’ll get more time and more attention. Look for agents keen to build client lists, they are more eager to find and take on new writers. View all agents here. 6. Remember that it’s publishers who create bestsellers, not agents A lot of writers will read the advice above and think, “I want my career to stand the best possible chance of success. Why wouldn’t I get the top literary agent out there?” But you don’t want the ‘top agent’. You want the best literary agent for you. That means one who has the time to take you through editorial changes, who won’t ditch you as a client if things don’t immediately go to plan, and who will argue patiently and sincerely for your merits. In short, you want one who won’t be distracted because J.K. Rowling, Ian McEwan, et al., is on the other line. And the core of any agent’s job is simple. It’s to think of 8-10 editors who might well like your work, then email it to them. That’s it. And any competent agent should be able to do that. You don’t need to be a superstar. 7. Look for points of contact When you’re reviewing an agent’s profile, look for any points of contact. “Loves rock-climbing” might not mean much in terms of literary tastes, but if you’re a keen climber, you shouldn’t scorn that potential point of contact: you’re looking for anything. And if you’re not a climber, but your book has a superb climax set in the high Alps, then thats a definite reason to reach out. 8. Look for agents who represent your favourite authors Perhaps there’s an author in your exact genre whom you love, in which case it would certainly be interesting to find out who represents that person. But you don’t really have to find authors in your genre. For example, if you are writing “chick-lit”, but there’s an agent who represents a couple more serious authors whom you adore, then that’s a meaningful point of contact – an indicator of shared taste. Just search the name of an author (surname only is fine) and their agent will appear, assuming that the agent-author relationship is public information. 9. Avoid the obvious! You’re a crime writer? Yes, you admire Ian Rankin, of course you do. But Ian Rankin’s agent will get a lot of letters says, ‘Dear X, You represent Ian Rankin who is one of my favourite crime authors …’ Do you really think that the good Mr X is going to sit up and take notice? 10. Compile a shortlist of 8-12 names, and then double-check everything We recommend a shortlist of about a dozen names, no more. Most books won’t even go out to as many as a dozen publishers and editors are even pickier than agents, which means if you can’t impress one in 12 agents, you don’t stand much hope with publishers. But don’t go to too few agents either. Approach six or fewer and you risk being rejected for essentially random reasons (too busy right now, lost your manuscript, don’t really like this kind of story, got a client who’s doing the exact same thing right now …) Once you’ve got a shortlist of agents that you’re happy with, you should double-check their websites. Our own database is as up to date as we can make it – but there are limits to our reach and you are hoping to sign up with someone for the duration of your career. Now’s a good time to double-check your facts!). So, in sum, find a literary agent in your genre, one looking for new clients (or at least open to them). Ignore location. Seek points of contact, including favourite authors. Then check and double check your shortlist. How To Write A Query Letter For Literary Agents 11. Get their name right Is it John or Jon? Is it Mr Sam Spade or Ms. Sam Spade? Don’t offend an agent with your very first words. You also need to make sure that you have their current address and other details correct. If you don’t know whether it’s Miss Jo Johnson, Ms Jo Johnson or Mrs Jo Johnson, it’s just fine to write “Dear Jo Johnson,” In fact, Dear Firstname Lastname is probably standard these days, publishing is not a particularly formal industry. 12. Re-check the basics If you’re writing children’s fiction, don’t send your work to an agent who handles only adult material. And while most agents wanta a fairly standard submission package (letter and synopsis and first three chapters), do check what this specific agency wants and follow their rules. 13. Keep it simple A covering letter doesn’t need more than a page. Perhaps if your work is quite literary and you want to expand a little on theme and your impulse to write it, you can go into a second page – but that qualification applies to maybe one writer in twenty. In other words, it probably doesn’t apply to you. 14. The first paragraph should cover the basics, briefly Your first paragraph should be just a sentence or two that sets out: (a) the title of your book, (b) the approximate genre, (c) a brief characterisation of the book and (d) a word count. Thus, for example, if I had been a new novelist seeking an agent for my Talking to the Dead, I might have said: “I am writing to seek representation for my first novel, Talking to the Dead. The book is a Welsh-set police procedural of about 115,000 words and features a young female detective, who is in recovery from Cotard’s Syndrome.” See? That’s a perfect first para because it instantly gives an agent their need-to-know info (crime novel, Wales, police procedural, word count), plus a little teaser – a reason to read-on: “Cotard’s? What’s that? Sounds interesting …” That opening paragraph is not hard to write. If you can’t write a perfectly good one, then your book is no good anyway. 15. The next paragraph can expand The next paragraph should open out a little more. So my second paragraph might have said something like this: “The detective, Fiona Griffiths, is a twenty-something junior officer, based in Cardiff. She’s highly intelligent, driven … and odd. As a teenager, she suffered from a genuine but rare disorder, known as Cotard’s Syndrome – a psychological condition in which the sufferer believes themselves to be dead. Fiona is no longer directly afflicted, but the illness continues to dominate her life and her sense of self. Then, as her Major Crimes team starts to investigate the violent deaths of a part-time prostitute and her, Fiona realises that the past feels dangerously alive again.” That’s all you need. The paragraph expands our opening teaser into something with more meat on it – something that should tempt a reader to read on. But that’s all – about a hundred words should be fine. If you’re going over the 150 word mark, you probably need to rein back. 16. That paragraph should convey your elevator pitch or USP That second paragraph has one crucial job: it’s to force the agent to turn to page 1 of your manuscript with a smidge of excitement and interest. That means you need to convey the Unique Selling Point of your book with brevity and force. Note that you should not say, “The Unique Selling Point for my book is …” That just feels heavy handed and clunky. (Want to know more about Elevator Pitches? Find out here.) 17. You do not need to summarise your plot That’s the job of your synopsis. Notice that my sample paragraph above (point #15) said nothing at all about plot. Yes, it mentioned the initiating murders, but that’s it. It doesn’t say anything about what happens thereafter. It doesn’t need to. 18. You are not writing a book blurb The blurb on the back of a book belongs on the back of the book. You are addressing a potential agent, not a potential bookshop browser. Thus the paragraph above about Talking to the Dead mentioned Cotard’s Syndrome, which no book blurb would ever do. (Because that would ruin one of the big reveals at the end of the book.) Focus on the agent and your USP or elevator pitch. The blurb will come much, much later in the process. 19. You don’t need to explain everything If you are writing about a fantasy world where – I don’t know – gravity is upside down, or England has a good footie team, or Amazon pays some tax, you can pick out anything that is key to your brief overview of the book. But you don’t need to explain every little thing. The covering letter needs to offer a glimpse of stocking, no more. The book itself will do the rest. 20. Finally: a few words about yourself And that means a few words. “I am a thirty-something mother of two. I currently work part-time as an accountant, but am retraining as an exotic dancer.” Or whatever. Unless there is a direct and important relationship between who you are and the topic of your manuscript, you don’t need more than the very briefest sketch of who you are. No one cares and no one ought to care: it’s your book that matters here; you are merely its transmission device. 21. Your website, your Twitter account, or your online footprint are much less important than you might think You will see suggestions online, including from some people who should know better, that these days agents really care about your social media profile. And that is simply not true. Yes, admittedly, if you have 100,000+ blog visitors monthly and your book is a non-fiction work directly connected to the subject of that blog, then agents will be impressed, and so will publishers. But that’s it. Blogs or sites with smaller followings don’t mean much in sales terms, and they certainly don’t mean much when it comes to promoting fiction. So you just don’t need to say anything about your current online footprint. If publishers want to discuss it with you down the line, then they will, but it’s not something to worry about for now. (And by the way, my Fiona Griffiths crime series has been published all over the world, is critically acclaimed, and has been televised. In all that time, I’ve only had one conversation in publishing about my e-footprint, and that was early on, and was never followed up. That’s how little publishers care.) 22. If you’re impressive, say so (for fiction writers) A covering letter is not the place to mention your school prizes or your work on the parish magazine, but if you have accomplished something genuinely noteworthy say so. “The maritime scenes in my novel draw heavily from my own experiences at sea: I have sailed single-handed round the world and have competed in a number of international yacht races. The shipwreck scene towards the climax of my novel is largely based on a similar accident that befell me a few years back.” A paragraph like that would do very nicely – but, if you’re writing fiction, it’s not all that likely you have a similar connection to make. In which case, don’t worry. Most people don’t. 23. If you’re authoritative, say so (for non-fiction writers) While it’s relatively rare for fictioneers to include much biography in their covering letter, the reverse can be true of non-fictioneers. For example, if you are writing a book on artificial intelligence, then you will certainly be expected to demonstrate authority. So: “I am current head of Google’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory …” Or, “I am Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Wherever …” Or, “I have worked extensively as a smart systems consultant to blue-chip companies including …” “I am the Science and Technology editor on the XYZ newspaper …” Any of those things would do just fine. “I’m a keen amateur student of these things and think the subject is really, really important” – that kind of thing would not fare so well. As a non-fiction author, you are expected to demonstrate compelling knowledge. 24. If you’ve self-published, that’s fine, but be realistic These days, agents will receive plenty of self-published manuscripts, and it’s fine if yours has already seen the light of day. But agents will only be impressed if your manuscript has seen a lot of downloads. That means 30-50,000 downloads, if the manuscript was being offered for free. And it means at least 10,000 downloads if the manuscript was being sold at a meaningful price. ($0.99 or £0.99 as an absolute minimum.) 25. Be careful about mentioning competing similar works If you are writing fiction, it’s fine to place your novel by triangulating from other authors. For example, you might say, “This is, roughly speaking, Philippa Gregory territory, but transposed to Dark Ages Mercia.” That helps an agent understand the kind of book you’ve written. (Though even in that example, it would probably be better to convey the same message without the PG reference.) On the other hand, it is not clever to say, “My book combines the philosophical grandeur of a Saul Bellow, the prose of John Banville and the compelling narrative of a James Patterson.” You’re welcome to think all those things – but don’t say them out loud. If you are writing non-fiction, a couple of references are very often useful. For example, “The book is a lively, popular account of quantum physics, in the footsteps of such texts as Quantumly Wonderful by Mr A and Oh What a Wonderful Atom by Ms B.” If you do use that kind of tactic, be very clear about how your book differs from those fine texts. 26. Don’t misspell anything Humans make typos and most writers are human. And that’s fine: a well-presented manuscript doesn’t have to mean a flawless one, but an agent submission pack is the first thing the agent reads. So no misspellings. None. No excuses. That also means you need to avoid all other hideosities. No it’s when you mean its. No references to my “fiction book”. (It’s called a novel.) No bad punctuation. You want to be a professional writer. So be professional. 27. No horrible sentences And mere tidiness is not enough. You also can’t express yourself badly. You need to eliminate any clunky, ugly, or badly phrased sentences. So don’t write sentences like this: “Emily (who is the hero in this bit) then finds herself in a dungeon which is really like the one in Game of Thrones (second series) except that my one has this big arched window really high up, which Emily tries to climb out of for an escape attempt but can’t because she slips and really hurts her ankle.” Don’t write sentences even a bit like that. Please. They make our gums hurt. In sum, keep your letter short. All you need is a couple of overview-type sentences, then a paragraph or so on your book, then a short paragraph of background about you. That’s it. Make sure that you get the basics right (spellings, punctuation, who you’re addressing) and make sure you write with economy and professionalism. How To Write A Wonderful Synopsis 28. Don’t stress Most writers stress over their synopses. They shouldn’t: the things just aren’t that important. Some agents ask for them but hardly read them. Get your synopsis right, yes, but don’t fret about it. Half a day should be easily enough for the task. 29. Keep it short, but not crazy-short Anything from 500 to 1,000 words is fine. Less than 500 words seems a little on the thin side (unless perhaps your book has a notably clean narrative line, in which case OK.) More than 1,000? No need. That’s just more words. Keep it tight. 30. Tell the story A synopsis tells the story of your novel. That’s all it does. You’re not pitching the novel. You’re not writing a cover blurb. You’re just telling the story. Which you know intimately, right? This is not a hard assignment. 31. Keep your text neutral A synopsis isn’t usually a good place for atmosphere, humour, detailed characterisation, or anything else. Those things are for your book. A simple factual narrative is fine. 32. Don’t worry about spoilers Of course there are spoilers in the synopsis, just like there’s alcohol in beer. That’s kind of the point. If you really, really don’t want to give away the very ending, you can say something along these lines: “Jones is all set to raid the warehouse, when Karen arrives with news that will devastate them both – and lead to a final, bloody and unexpected finale.” But, if you can steel yourself to do it, just tell the whole darn story including the ending. That’s what agents want. 33. Put key names in bold When you first mention the name of a key character, you should set it in bold, or even bold caps. Like this: “KAREN, a thirty-something police sergeant, is appointed to ….” That makes it easy for an agent to see who’s who and to check back if they get confused. (And synopses are confusing; that’s just the way they are.) 34. Presentation matters. So does your prose As with the covering letter, you should make sure that your synopsis is well-presented and free of horrible sentences. 35. You can briefly restate your book’s USP before the synopsis proper If you want, you can have an italicised line or two before the synopsis proper that sets out the book’s premise or broad narrative arc – anything that reminds the agent why they like the idea. So, for example, this would be nice: “Jacob is a diamond dealer in Rotterdam. When his warehouse is burgled, he wonders how the thieves got past his security system … and why his wife was driving the getaway car.” That sets up an enticing premise in slightly more than 30 words. Or you can sketch the whole story in the same kind of space: “Two brothers quarrel in the trenches of the First World War. They separate and each found a mighty oil business – one striking rich in the sands of Persia, the other sprouting up in the oil fields of East Texas. Then another war comes and the two men are obliged to confront their pasts – and each other.” That’s fifty-something words and sketches a book that is 600 pages long (my third novel, as it happens.) These introductory snippets don’t excuse you from writing a full synopsis, they just enrich the one you’ve written. So recap your story in about 500-1000 words. Put key character names in bold. Keep your prose clean and reasonably neutral. Avoid howlers. You get bonus points for a short, tempting intro. How To Prepare Your Manuscript For Literary Agents 36. Check: Are you really ready? Most writers send out their manuscript before it’s ready. That can mean anything from poor prose and a lousy concept through to a text that is really pretty good but in need of a good, hard, final edit. A lack of polish can kill your chances, so be professional. Give your manuscript another close read. Be picky: agents will be. (Not sure if you’re ready? You can get paid-for editorial advice for your manuscript. It’s very rare that writers are not helped by professional editorial feedback.) 37. Your first three chapters: getting that right Most agents ask for a covering letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters. But what do the first three chapters really mean? What if your chapters are strangely long? Or short? And should you count your prologue? The answer is that agents don’t really care about these things. Just send about 10,000 words, ending at a natural break in your text. That’ll do fine. 38. Check for common errors This post isn’t long enough to list them all, but here are the top fifteen. 39. Check spellings, punctuation, typos, prose No horrible sentences, okay? A few typos don’t matter, but good presentation is still essential. 40. Make sure that your text is properly formatted There are no strict rules here (unlike in the screenplay business), but do check that: – Your margins are normal (your program’s default settings are fine).– Your text is 1.5 or double-spaced.– Your dialogue is correctly presented.– You begin each chapter on a fresh page.– You avoid weird fonts.– You lay your book out like a book, not a business letter. That means no blank line between paragraphs, but each paragraph should be indented (anywhere from 0.2″ to 0.5″). You should set the indents with the Paragraph Format menu or with the Tab key. You should not rely on the space bar.– Either left hand justified or both-sides justified text is fine.– It’s still better to print on one side of the page only. If that offends your eco-sensibilities, plant a tree – or look for agents who take work by email: most now do. 41. Remember to insert page numbers This gets its own bullet point, because a lot of people forget, and then have to print their stuff off again. And while you’re at it, pop your name and manuscript title in the header or footer of each page. (So when an agent drops your stuff, they can put it all back together again.) 42. Nice clean title page, please Your title page should ideally contain: – Your title (in a font as large as you like)– Your name– Your contact info– A word count, rounded to the nearest 1,000 or 5,000 words– And nothing else You do not need a dedication, or an acknowledgements, or anything along those lines. This isn’t a book yet, it’s a pile of paper. Also, it’s a bit fancy-pants putting an epigram on a manuscript, but some manuscripts are a bit fancy-pants. In which case, put it on the title page, or on the page immediately following. 43. No copyright notice You don’t need a copyright notice – it’s legally meaningless and, in any case, no agent steals copyright. 44. No cover art! A publisher is not going to use your cover art. So don’t show it to agents. 45. The Golden Rule There is only one golden rule of the agent submission process and that is the hardest. You must write a wonderful book. Good is not enough. Competent is not nearly enough. Agents take about 1 in 1,000 submissions. Your work has to dazzle. Happy writing, and best of luck! Explore our huge database of agents to find the perfect match for your manuscript, and if you want more advice on how to get a literary agent, look at the vast amounts of free advice we have on our website.
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Literary agents for food and cookery books

The cookery market remains a solidly dependable corner of the books market with many literary agents representing the non-fiction genre. What’s more, it’s an area which is still dominated by full-colour, hard-copy books, which means that the ebook revolution has done little to change the basic market. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the market dynamics remain challenging for most potential writers in this area. The one sure fire way to get a cookbook published is to make sure that you have a TV show first. Or a column in a major newspaper. Or you’re a celebrity with some lifestyle angle to promote. For ordinary cookery writers, it is hard to get publishers interested enough to invest in a book, not least because the high production quality now expected in this area means that a book needs to shift a lot of copies to break into profit. But faint heart never won fair maid, and there are still opportunities for new, unknown writers. Especially if you can bring a particular expertise in an under-explored area of food and drink. AgentMatch has a complete list of every agent in the UK with full details about what genre they handle and much more besides. If you’re looking for an agent, then you’re in exactly the right place. You just need to become a member. AgentMatch And How To Use It There are plenty of cookery-loving agents and you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. food and cookery) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. Become a member. More On UK Literary Agents Link to: UK Literary Agents, the Complete List (with Links to Agent Profiles) LITERARY AGENT LIST For every genre
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Literary agents for popular science

Popular science and psychology authors are more popular than ever. Stephen Hawking, Oliver Sacks and Michio Kaku, to name a few. For all that the ebook revolution has upturned the old verities of the publishing market, it remains the case that for countless areas of the books trade, traditional publishers still dominate. What’s more, with very few exceptions, the only sensible route to those publishers is via literary agents. The helmsmen and pilots of your literary career. And yes, AgentMatch is here for creative non-fiction writers, too. AgentMatch And How To Use It On AgentMatch, there are plenty of science-loving agents, but you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. popular science, non-fiction) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. The site is designed to give users a good feel for the data and functionality for free, but the real riches of our site are available only to members. Become a member. More On UK Literary Agents Link to: UK Literary Agents, the Complete List (with Links to Agent Profiles) Literary Agent List For every genre
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Literary agents for horror

Ever since the horror genre was so memorably revived and expanded by Stephen King, horror has been a reliably steady element in the publishing canon. The advent of teen paranormal sagas has brought new readers to the genre (while also altering its boundaries). The ebook evolution has also, arguably, brought new readers to the field, as young men (always more reluctant book-readers) have been more willing to purchase long-form fiction via their tablets and phones. What’s more, the genre shouldn’t be seen in too restrictive terms. Classy contemporary authors such as the award-winning Lesley Glaister add quality to the genre. And then you could also argue that such very well-respected authors as Susan Hill have in fact been writing ‘horror’ for years, albeit not for the audiences normally associated with the area. Many crime and thriller authors also effectively plough through classic horror territory. (Oh, the noises from that old stone cellar? They’re nothing. No. Honestly, nothing.) AgentMatch And How To Use It AgentMatch is designed to let you easily filter on and find the agents you need. There are plenty of horror-loving agents and you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. horror) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. All you need to do is become a member.
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Literary agents for politics and current affairs

There’s a very broad and eclectic group of books covered by this. If your book isn’t strictly about politics but is (like Malcolm Gladwell’s) about how society actually works or (like Michael Lewis’s) about specific aspects of how the world works, then you are probably still looking for agents who work in this same broad category. Do be aware that no agents specialise only in this area. You should expect your agent to represent not merely serious, topical non-fiction, but also (most likely) plenty of fiction, and plenty of other non-fiction as well. That doesn’t mean the agent concerned won’t have the necessary connections. He or she will have them and be motivated to place your work in the best (and most lucrative) place possible. AgentMatch And How To Use It On AgentMatch, there are plenty of politics-loving agents and you won’t want to approach them all. The best way to develop and refine your own shortlist of likely targets is to visit our page and use the search tools on the left to make your selection. You can select by genre (e.g. current affairs) but you can also select by the agent’s level of experience, their appetite for new clients, and very much more. Our database is completely comprehensive and it’s really, really easy to create the searches you want. The site is designed to give users a good feel for the data and functionality for free, but the real riches of our site are available only to members. Become a member. More On UK Literary Agents Link to: UK Literary Agents, the Complete List (with Links to Agent Profiles) LITERARY AGENT LIST For every genre
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