5 Top Tips for Authors Seeking Agent Representation

Posted on March 9, 2020 in Oxford

So your novel is finished. Nowadays submitting your work to a literary agency is as easy as dispatching an email – gone are the days of manuscripts tucked in white envelopes and pre-paid postage responses. However, without the physical weight of 80,000 typed words, it’s easy to forget that the pages you send out into the ether will eventually end up in the lap of a reader. Bearing this in mind as you prepare your digital submission will help you polish your work to stand out from the rest.

Aoife Inman, Agents’ Assistant at Felicity Bryan Associates, has listed some pointers to consider if you are looking for agent representation for your writing:

 

1) Readers can often make up their minds about a piece within the first few pages, so pay attention to those early paragraphs. Make them clean, grammatically correct (we can forgive the odd slip-up but a typo in the first line makes us wince), and don’t overwrite. Draw the reader into the story without giving too much away.

2) Synopses are difficult to write. This is a universal truth, but they can also be a useful tool for authors and agents. Try not to get bogged down in the semantics of each scene and instead give us a broad overview of the plot arc (beginning, middle and end), and the “journey” of the central character. Think of it like a blurb that gives away the ending – it sells the reader the book, whilst reassuring us that you know the direction the story is going in.

3) Your covering letter doesn’t need to be fancy, short and friendly is best. Tell us the title and word-count of the book you are submitting, the genre it fits within, and a little about yourself, particularly if it is relevant to the book. Mentioning a short fiction prize you’ve been shortlisted for, or the inspiration behind the story, are both great ways to catch a reader’s interest in those first few sentences. We don’t need a biography or a CV, just give us a sense of you and your writing so that when we open your submission we’re already excited.

4) Give your writing to others to read before submitting. Your novel needs to be in the best shape possible and a reader’s perspective is crucial in the editing process. They can give you a whole new understanding of your novel, which won’t be complicated by your insider knowledge of how the plot and characters are stitched together. Your readers need to be people whose honesty and literary taste you trust. You don’t necessarily need to take every centimetre of their advice, but use it to give your editing some distance.

5) Research the agency before you press send. Whether you have written a high-paced commercial thriller or a graphic novel, make sure the agency you are submitting to represents these types of titles before sending it off.

 

Felicity Bryan Associates is a literary agency based in Oxford. They are currently looking for:

  • Exciting upmarket, bookclub and literary debut fiction
  • Contemporary, realistic middle-grade fiction (i.e. 8-12) with a memorable and highly distinctive voice
  • Accessible non-fiction for the adult market, written by an author with clear and demonstrable expertise

You can access their online portal for submissions here.