It used to happen around the 1950’s and 60’s that you went up to the owner of a publishing house with your original manuscript. The owner was the solo editor too in most cases. But times have changed and bringing your book to the market has become more challenging. Today if you want to be out there in the book market, and if you want to survive out there, you need a literary agent. Now the terminology might be confusing. But a literary agent is the one that evaluates your book’s potential, presents it to prospective buyers and pitches for it, negotiates a contract on your behalf and finally directs your writing career. So basically, he does everything but write the book! That’s how important a literary agent is. These days many publishing houses don’t look at manuscripts unless it is accompanied by a literary agent.
How to find literary agents in UK?
Finding the agent that is right for your needs is a time consuming job, but once done, these agents become quite the lifeline. Keep reading to know how to find one:
1. To begin with complete the manuscript. But this may vary from agent to agent. Some may ask for just the first few pages and some may want the entire manuscript. However, it makes sense to be ready with the entire story.
2. Understand what genre your book fits into. It could be fiction, children, non- fiction, fantasy, autobiography, adult novel and so on. Look for agents that deal with these specifictypes. While this is not a non- negotiable, but it will help your manuscript and your career, as it will be evaluated at par with the market. Agents keep track of literary trends and know how to influence them to. So it will do good to keep an open mind while dealing with one.
3. Then search online for literary agents. If you have heard of someone, check out the books that they have to their credits. See if the author has mentioned them in the acknowledgments. This may seem a little underhand, but it’s probably the best way to know if the agent is any good. Before you decide on any one agent, meet them in person. Sometimes the vibes that you get or intuition as you may call it can seal the deal faster than the manuscript.
4. There are a lot of books available too that may guide your quest for the perfect literary agent in UK. You can also look at magazines to look for classifieds where agents pitch for themselves.
What is your role?
Well, of course, you have to write the book and edit it and ensure that there are no grammatical errors. But other than that, there is also a code of conduct to be followed. Keep in mind that the literary agent isn’t your best buddy! Maintain a professional distance and work. Over time and if things go well, familiarity may develop. Also beware of unscrupulous editors and agents! There may be many that you may chance upon. Therefore before you sign any contract, have it reviewed by your attorney.