So you’d like to publish your novel. Great! You could go the indie route, but if you’d like to go traditional you’ll most likely need publishing agents.

Publishing agents know the ins and outs of the publishing world. They have contacts you can only dream of, and they know who is looking for what. They’ll also know how to get you a great contract and make sure you’re paid fairly for your work.

Sounds like a good person to have on your team, right?

There are so many publishing agents out there to choose from, so finding the right one is essential to your future career. Just how do you go about finding the best publishing agent for you? Keep reading to find out.

The Basics: What to Learn

Before choosing an agent there are several things you’ll want to consider.

How will this particular agent pitch your book? Will they represent you well at book fairs and other events? How will they handle giving you the good and bad news?

You want to find an agent who will get you the best; who will make sure you’re treated correctly, and who will help you along the way.

Take Time to Weed

There may be several publishing agents who are a great match for you and your book. But there will be even more who aren’t a good fit. You’ve got to take time to research agents and weed out the ones that won’t work.

When looking for an agent, make sure they have experience in your genre. If you’re trying to pitch a fantasy novel, don’t go with someone who’s only been an agent for romance novels.

See what kind of reputation each agent has. Can you find information about them? Have they successfully pitched books in the past? Are they a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives?

Make sure the industry knows them. Even if it’s a new agent, you want them to be recognizable to the people they’re pitching too.

Beyond credentials, you’ve got to find someone who you have good chemistry. Once you begin working with an agent you’ll be working with them closely, so you must work well together.

Choose an agent who’s likely to like your book. Looking them up on Goodreads to see what they like to read is a great way to go about this.

Once you’ve found a few agents you’re happy with, compare them to each other until you find the one you feel is best for you.

Know Where to Look

Finding out about an agent is all fine and dandy, but where, exactly, can you do that? Thanks to the digital era we live in, there are several websites that will help you with this.

Your best option is PublishersMarketplace.com. Some other great sites include WritersMarket.com and AgentQuery.com.

Whatever site(s) you use, make sure you research each agent thoroughly. Your agent is the one who’ll negotiate your contract for you, so make sure you really think through your decision.

Have a Great Product

If you want a great agent to represent you, you’ll have to have a great piece of work to present them with. Finding a great agent is great, but they also have to agree to work with you.

First things first, you have to have a finished product! Don’t try pitching a novel that isn’t complete. If someone likes your idea, they’ll ask for the complete manuscript, so be prepared!

Make sure your manuscript is edited, but be wary of over-editing, too. At some point, you have to say “enough’s enough” and leave it alone. Another set of eyes is never a bad idea.

Have the Right Materials

In order to get a great agent, you’ll have to be prepared for what they want to see. A finished novel is one thing, but that’s not what you’re going to send an agent.

Have a synopsis prepared. Though this can be one of the toughest parts of the writing process, you’ve got to do it. It shouldn’t be long, only about a page.

You’ll also need a query letter to send to each agent you wish to contact. Tell them what your book is about, and make sure each letter is personalized to the agent you’re writing to.

Be professional in every outreach attempt you make. Explain why you specifically chose them, and include a short pitch about your book.

You can also tell them very briefly about yourself. We’re talking one sentence, here.

Along with your synopsis and query letter, you’ll need a stellar first three chapters. These have got to be the best ones you have prepared because this is what you’ll send out before a complete manuscript.

Make sure these chapters are enticing. They’ve got to make the reader want more, and they’ve got to be well written.

Overall Tips for Finding the Best Publishing Agents

As you research and contact agents to represent you, always be professional. Look for someone who will be enthusiastic about your novel and will present it well.

If an agent agrees to represent you, don’t jump on the offer right away. Take time to think it through. The agent you choose will largely determine your future writing career, so don’t take the decision lightly.

And don’t worry if you’re rejected, even by multiple publishing agents. That’s just part of the process. Just keep on looking until you find the right agent for you.

Are you looking to publish educational content instead of a novel? Check out our blog post on publishing your educational material digitally.