Instagram Creative Writing Class: Get Published

3 Jul 2020

You can catch up with this class and others on Instagram

What is a Literary Agent?

> They help prepare your work for submission, help you find the right publisher and negotiate a deal.
> Represent your book abroad and submit to film companies
> Represent your book abroad and submit to film companies
> Support you through the ups and downs
> If self-publishing – you don’t need one.

How do you find an agent?

1. First, get your book into shape. Some people find it helpful to hire an editor to help (but you don’t have to do this! Lots don’t). I can recommend:
2. Make a hit list: Look at Writers and Artists Yearbook  
3. Submit to about 5 agents at once. Expect rejections. Be systematic. DO YOUR RESEARCH 


> Look at novels that are similar to yours and turn to the acknowledgments page – the writer’s agent will be there.
> Find agents who might have a personal connection to your subject matter.
> Personal recommendations: use any contacts you have
> Target newer agents who are building their lists
> Follow literary agents on Twitter or Facebook – they often ask for submissions. The big agencies like Curtis Brown also have Twitter pitch days
> Can you do a writing course? (expensive, but some have bursaries, some online). 3 good ones: Faber Academy, Curtis Brown,Arvon Foundation
> Enter writing competitions
> Try Jericho Writers who have conferences and ‘meet an agent’ days


Follow the guidelines on their website!!! Most want:
1. A short query email (or covering letter; they mean the same.) I’d do 4-5 sentences about yourself, plus brief elevator pitch about the novel (just a couple of sentences!)
2. 3 chapters, 10,000 words, or 50 pages
3. A synopsis

Three Tips for Success

1. Keep it Brief in the covering email – mention any writing credentials (journalism, advertising etc) you have, or well known courses you’ve done, or prizes you’ve won
2. Present your work professionally: double spaced, justified, in a sensible font, page numbered, your name and title on each page. No typos/spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. No funny colours or gimmicks.
3. Write a Good Synopsis: this is a brief statement of plot and main characters. It’s not a blurb. Don’t use excitable language to ‘sell’ the story. Make it however long they want it (Usually 1-2 pages double-spaced, 12 pt)

Things that might put off agents before they’ve even read your submission:

Email tone: gushing, exclamation marks, emojis, showing off or false modesty. Simply state who you are, any relevant credentials, what your book is.
Gimmicks: Making own book jacket or marketing material or attention grabbing tricks eg. shiny wrapping, free gift
Errors: Getting their name wrong/agency/authors they represent or spelling anything wrong.
If they turn you down don’t write back telling them why they’ve made a mistake. LOTS of authors are rejected by agents but submit again, another book, and are taken on.


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