Five Foolproof Ways to Catch a Literary Agent's Eye

September 7, 2018

 

It's hard to get a literary agent's attention. They're swamped with hundreds of emails. What you may have though to be an original idea may end up being a rehashing of 10 other submissions at the top of their inbox.

 

How do you stand out? 

 

Althought these aren't guaranteed to land you a contract, the following 5 tips can differentiate you from hundreds of other hopefuls:

 

1. Catch 'em early.

 

In their career, I mean. Not in Pokemon. 

 

Writer's Digest, for instance, has new literary agent alerts available for authors. If you catch them early, they are building their client lists, so there's more of a chance they have room for you.

 

2. Meet 'em at a conference

 

If you can, sign up for a one-on-one and pitch to them. I'm the kind of agent who remembers faces far better than names. In fact, I had met my agent Cyle Young at a conference a year before he represented me. 

 

3. Read about 'em on their websites (and what they do and don't take on)

I should add a caveat, don't be creepy about this by  quoting their blogs back to them in a query or comparing their head shot photo to the description of a rather un-PG character in their book. (Yes, it's happened). 

 

But agents appreciate it when an author takes the time to see what they like. It honestly puts you miles above 90 percent of the other submissions.

 

4. Follow 'em on social media 

Several participate in MSWL (manuscript wish list), letting you know exactly what they're looking to represent right now. And even if they don't, you can get a sense of their personalities from what they post.

 

Agents on their websites usually have social media handles. For instance, mine are on the top bar of the page. 

 

Again, don't be creepy. Please do not like every single one of their posts.

 

5. Give 'em your best work

Yes, sometimes a misspelled word in the first sentence can make or break a contract, even with an agent. Keep in mind your agent is your biggest cheerleader in the publishing world. If they are turned off by writing that needs another edit, even if they take it on (which...they most likely won't) they'll be unenthusiastic about it. 

 

Editors will be able to tell. So much sure those first three chapters shine. 

 

 

 

I am open to submissions as of June 2018. If you have a manuscript that fits within my likes (see the Get Published tab) send me a query at hope@cyleyoung.com. 

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