Boost Your Book Sales By Finding The Perfect Literary Agent

You did it! You’ve finally written that book you’ve been dreaming up. 

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You can picture what’s to come…unboxing freshly printed books that are ready to be placed in the hands of your eager readers, followed by book signings and interviews. 

But if you’re wondering how to get from point A (finishing your book) to point, well, Z (fame, fortune and glory), then it may be time to consider a literary agent. 

Literary agents can help you do multiple things that are vital to having successful book sales, like:

  • Finding the perfect editor for your genre
  • Helping negotiate book deals
  • Coordinate your book launch, marketing and publicity 
  • Guide you through the publishing process

If you’re ready to take your career as a writer to the next level, use this as a guide to finding the perfect literary agent for your book and books to come. 

What to Look for in a Literary Agent

If you believe you’re not an experienced enough author for a literary agent to consider you, you may be pleased to find out that there are many agents open to taking on new authors. 

But whether you’re a new or experienced author, you don’t want to hire just anyone. 

First, have a specific idea of what you want in a literary agent. 

Take it beyond “I want them to help me sell books” and consider more personal factors: 

  • Your genre: Having a literary agent experienced in your specific genre means they’ll have more niche contacts and strategies that will suit your specific audience.
  • Your personality: If you’re someone who likes to be privy to every step of the publishing and marketing process, you’ll want an agent who’s very communicative. 
  • Your future: If you’re planning on publishing more books, you may want an agent who’s in it for the long run. Ask if they have experience landing multi-book deals for clients.
  • Your budget: Agent fees are usually commission-based. Generally, they’ll take 15% of your sales.

Once you know the type of agent you want, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your future self will thank you for getting as detailed as you can now so you know what to expect.

When you interview potential literary agents be aware of both the good signs and red flags that may pop up:

Good signs

It’s a good sign if the potential agent has good reviews, is very responsive to your inquiries, and listens carefully to your needs. Bonus points if they’ve been hired by an author you relate to or respect. 

Bad signs

You may want to consider someone else if the literary agent doesn’t seem to like your book, doesn’t seem to have the time to prioritize you, or you just have a bad feeling about their personality in general. 

Preparing Your Pitch

You’ll want to make sure you appeal to agents as much as they appeal to you. It’s important to think through your pitch before approaching potential ones. A good pitch should include:

  • A query letter: This is a one-page letter that describes your writing style and work. It should include basic details about your book like the genre and word count. Beyond that, you should include a brief personal biography in your unique voice. 
  • A synopsis: A 1-2 page summary of your book from beginning to end. 
  • Sample chapters. Choose captivating chapters from the beginning or end of your book. 

Typically, an agent is looking for someone who knows who their target audience is and how to make a community from it. 

Keep in mind that it’s rare for someone to get picked up by the first agent they pitch to. Embrace the rejection and keep at it — the right agent is out there!

What to Expect From Your Agent

After you’ve found an agent who’s a good fit, it helps to know what you should and shouldn’t expect from them as their client: 

Do Expect: 

  • Honest feedback
  • Industry knowledge
  • Royalty analysis 
  • Help with contract negotiation
  • Help selling subsidiary rights

Don’t Expect:

  • Help writing your book
  • Being in constant contact
  • Edits
  • For them to sell everything you create

Once you know what kind of agent you’d like to work with and prepare a pitch toolkit, you have a great head start on making those dreams of yours come true! 

Need any other support? Before approaching your agent, make sure you have the basics covered such as printing, self publishing and more. We have plenty of resources for your journey as an author»

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

Flight cover

After a disappointing proof of my labor-intensive and much loved manuscript from another printer, I decided to try Steuben Press. Based on recommendations from many of my publishing team who are all members of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA), I submitted my book to Adam and his staff.

Their proof was perfect! The illustrations were crisp, the print clear, and the construction high quality. But the cover! Absolutely beautiful and softly glossed, Steuben's production added depth to the colors and popped the fine design by my cover artist. My book shimmers on the shelf!

Now I sell only Steuben's copies by hand and feel confident that my readers are receiving the best product reflecting my years of effort and passion for my subject.

– Sunny Weber, Denver, CO