Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Pointers to Publishing | Are you ready for a literary agent?

Published:Sunday | February 12, 2017 | 2:00 AMCorine La Font

First things first. not because the word 'literary' is included in the title does it mean that the person writes your book for you. A literary agent is someone who represents you to traditional publishing houses, an agent, or a representative. He or she speaks on your behalf to get you a publishing contract. This can mean a book contract or even movie deals and other spins-off marketing and income generating opportunities for your books.

There are some authors who don't seek a literary agent. instead, the agent seeks them. This is the best position to be in because that means you have a good book in your hands that is in demand, and as a result, you now hold the key to negotiations. They want you and you can 'call the shots', within reason, of course.

Should you desire to seek a literary agent, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

1. You must have a good, solid book. This means that your book must attract significant attention and sales to be able to generate multiple sources of income. If you are an aspiring author, then seeking a literary agent at this point is not recommended

2. You need to have a solid platform. This means a website and a strong following on all major social media channels. A strong following is nothing less than 10,000 followers as an attention-grabber start. Even if you don't have much sales, a list like that can be massaged to generate sales.

3. Having sales puts you in a stronger position, and sales of US$10, 000 and upwards would attract some attention.

4. Positive reviews on Amazon or other publishing platforms are also essential as it speaks to purchasers' opinions of your work, which can be leveraged in negotiations with a publisher

5. Keep in mind that literary agents and publishers take a percentage for their work before you receive your contractual amount as they do all the work for you up front at no cost.

6. A literary agent may also offer guidance with respect to the quality of your work - what can make it better in order to put the best foot forward as they knows the market and knows what publishers are looking for. You don't.

So really, your book's pages are in their hands. I would suggest you educate yourself on negotiations and contracts and literary agents so as to avoid the wool being pulled over your eyes. Be in the know!

7. For those who are fortunate for literary agents to seek them, you must be prepared to write even when you don't want to as publishers will seek to 'milk' the potential of your creative juices to create more sales, and you will be required to write more. So it may be the case now that you write when you feel like. When you get a publishing contract, it's more that you write because you are told to. You will get the help you need as the publishers will support you, but time is of the essence, so when some authors go through what they term 'writer's block', there will be no time to accommodate that mood or feeling. Are you prepared for that? Remember, publishers are in business to make money. The more money they make, you benefit as a result.

8. It's a competitive minefield! Your book is competing with many others out there, hence my reason for saying you need to have a good, solid book. It also means that you need to be able to speak to your book and have a synopsis to capture the attention of the literary agent in one paragraph or less, similar to the 60-second pitch.

9. Are you fearful of speaking in public? Then hold back on seeking a literary agent. Once you get that ball rolling, and it does happen, then you have to be prepared for speaking engagements and media visibility, book signings, and all that. You can't ask for something and then when it comes, you are not ready to deal with it. Then don't ask and it won't be given!

- Corine La Font is a speaker, coach, author, and self -publishing consultant. Check out her website at http://www.helpdeskja.com, contact her at corinelaf@gmail.com.