Here we are at last. The final step in our journey!
Step Three: Represent
You've learned about writing. You've written something that you hopefully love. You've even been through all the work, frustration, and joy of revisions. Now we're on to the step that begins to take writing from our hands and turns it into a co-labor with another person.
You're going to represent your book/article to an agent.
Represent: A Little Background
So you know why a literary agent is important, I'll explain a little of what I've gleaned in the publishing world.
You don't just send your book to a traditional publisher.
No. No no no. Most of the large traditional publishers do not accept any unsolicited manuscript submissions. They don't know who you are and so if you send them something, they won't pay you any attention.
So it's your job to get the attention of an agent. Once you have an agent, they are the ones who can present your book to publishers.
In looking for a good agent, the most important tip I've heard is to not try to get an agent that asks for money up front. The agent should get paid when your book sells. Not before. Do your research on agents. Make sure you find one that has a good reputation.
So now that that is out of the way...
So you've searched and found an agent with a good reputation. Before you try to get their attention, read about them. Make sure they represent your genre of literature. Make sure they're accepting new clients.
Read their submission/query policies until you could quote them. You're about to make a business proposal of sorts, so make sure you're doing it right! If you ignore their policies, they have no obligation to pay attention to you.
Represent: Through the Internet
The way I started looking for an agent was through online submissions. Each agency and agent is a little different, so create a query or submission that adheres to the proper policies.
Represent: In Person
Far more frightening than hitting send on a query e-mail is talking to an agent in person. Through writers conferences (check out www.acfw.com for info on a great annual conference) you can get the opportunity to pitch your book to an agent who is literally sitting right across the table from you. You have 15 minutes to make your impression.
This is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Remember, though, that your chances are higher to get an agent when you meet him in person than when you query online.
This is the end of our road....
This is as far as I can take you on the road to publishing, because this is where I am. I've read, written, revised, and represented.
What do I do now until I get an agent?
I keep going. I keep learning and working and representing until one day, I'll write a book that will be published.
I hope these articles will help those of you making the journey with me to get even a bit closer to publishing!