If you are an upcoming author who has never used a literary agency before, chances are that you may not even know how to approach or find one. The internet is overflowing with many options, but the challenge always comes with knowing if the options being provided are legit. If you are just starting out as a writer and you are wondering how to identify the best literary agency to work with, some of the questions that will help you get the best include:
Which Authors Have You Worked With?
If you want to know if an agency is the right one, you should ask them for a list of some of the authors they have worked with. From that, you will be able to gauge the success rates of some of the books they have worked on, the type of books they work best with, and their general style. If possible, ask them to give you details on how it was working with specific authors so that you can know if your work will fit into the preference of the agency. You can also go a step further to reach out to some of the authors and ask if they enjoyed working with the agency.
What is Your Expectation?
Before engaging with a literary agency as an upcoming author, you should have a candid discussion on what their expectations are. They should tell you the percentage they expect from the sales, how they will collect their cut and other details such as royalties. You should also discuss what they expect of you in terms of how long they want to engage with you (there are some who will want to handle more than one of your books) and if they have a specific style or genre they would want you to pursue.
Do You Give Extra Services?
Most authors assume that the role of a literary agency is to find a publisher who is interested in signing them up for a book deal. The reality, even according to established writers is that literary agencies should be able to provide more than just delivering your work to the publishers. They should also mentor you and nudge you towards the direction of your growth. If you want to contract an agency, make sure they have an exhaustive list of the services they provide.
What is Your Preferred Genre?
Different literary agencies have a genre that they execute best. For instance, there are some that prefer writing motivational books, biographies, personal experiences, while others enjoy works of fiction and other artistic forms of representation. It helps to ask the agency the genre that they prefer for you to gauge if they book you are authoring will fit into their preferred genre. It also helps you to know if they will have the right mentors and illustrators to work on your book.
What Are Your General Rules?
If you are an upcoming author, you should never make the mistake of getting into a contract with a literary agency without reading through the rules and understanding. For instance, you should know how long they expect the book to be ready after signing with you, and how deep they go when it comes to making recommendations for edits. Do not sign with an agency that you feel will want you to change everything about your book.
How Available Are You?
Since literary agencies are always working with many authors at once, it makes sense to ask them if they are available for you and how much time they are willing to give. It can be frustrating to work with an agency that keeps you in waiting for many months and does not communicate to tell you the progress that your book is making. That is why you should ask them questions about their availability, especially if you have a set timeline on when you want your book to be ready.