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How to submit fiction to a literary agent

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So you've written a book and are looking for a literary agent. Here are some tips on how to submit your work for representation.
Identify the genre that you have written. Is it literary fiction, commercial fiction, chick lit, crime, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, thriller, young adult or children's (for example)?
Research and find all the literary agents that represent your genre. There are many listings and directories on the internet as well as in Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook – it’s worth remembering that all of these can go out of date quickly so it’s often good to back up your research by double checking with the agency’s individual website as well.
Research the agent(s) you want to approach and find out what their submission guidelines are. Read these guidelines and requirements carefully.
Follow their individual submission guidelines and submit exactly and only what the agent requests to see. It takes time and work, but the guidelines are there for a reason. Generally agents ask to see a covering letter, a synopsis and three sample chapters (often good to make it the first three).
Be clear, concise and try and show a little of your personality in your covering letter, outlining succinctly the title, length and genre of your book. Include a brief blurb of the book, perhaps what it’s similar to, who you imagine would read it, etc., and a short paragraph about you as an author.
Make sure your sample is laid out in the correct format, then check and then re-check your submission, paying close attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Send in the correct format through either their electronic submission (this could be a link from their website or directly to their email – but check first) or through the post. If you send your submission through the post be sure to add a note in your covering letter as to what you would like them to do with your submission if it is unsuccessful (i.e. letting them know they can either recycle it or that you've sent in a sae with the correct postage attached for them to return it to you).
Wait for the required time before chasing up on any submission you have made (it will say how long in their guidelines). If you do chase up your work, make sure that you are professional and polite in your approach.
Keep your fingers crossed!
It’s often best not to query a literary agent until you have completed your novel.
Take a look at some of your favourite authors in the genre you are writing and see who they list as their agent in the acknowledgements. This is a good way of identifying potential agents.
Don’t be lazy and send off a standard submission to all the agents you can find. It’s unlikely to pay off.
Do your homework and make it show.
Remember that if you sign up with an agency they should never ask you for money.
It is perfectly fine to send your work to more than one agent at a time, but it's often worth letting them know that they are not the only agent to be considering your work.


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