3 Truths I Learned in My First Days as a Literary Agent… (Part 1)

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3 Truths I Learned in My First Days as a Literary Agent… (Part 1)

A year ago, I began the new and exciting adventure of becoming a literary agent with Hartline Literary Agency. This year has brought a whirlwind of information, learning, emails, reading manuscript submissions, and signing clients.

In just a matter of days, my inbox became flooded with submissions from authors seeking representation, and as I reviewed manuscript after manuscript and proposal after proposal, a few significant trends came to light. In an effort to help other authors on their writing journey, I will share a few of those insights with you.

I am passionate about assisting writers who desire to become authors, and I sincerely hope some of these takeaways will help you acquire an agent or get your manuscript accepted by a publisher.

  1. If you don’t know what a book proposal is or what it should look like, then you are most likely a novice writer that still needs to learn more about the craft. Don’t get discouraged, every author started there too. My advice is simple, attend some writing conferences, get a writing coach, and/or take a writing class. Continue to learn more about the publishing industry and the submission process while you improve your writing ability. You will get published faster if you hone your craft first. If you try to get published before your writing ability is at an adequate level, you may find yourself rejected and discouraged.
  2. If your manuscript is full of red and green highlights in a word processing software like Word—don’t submit it—it’s full of mistakes. Take time to properly edit your manuscript, and at the minimum, run a spelling and grammar check before you submit. I’ll be honest, when I see a document that’s all marked up, I know the writer isn’t serious about the manuscript. Unfortunately, if the writer isn’t serious about his book, then I won’t be either. Always put your best foot forward.
  3. If you’ve never written a book before, make sure you follow writing rules and standards. Your book needs to be completed before submission. It should be written at an adequate and predictable word count for your genre. Make sure your manuscript has been edited and reviewed by someone other than you, preferably someone who has a good deal of industry experience or knowledge. I want to read your book, but I’ll be able to tell by the end of the first chapter whether or not someone else has edited it.

I hope these observations help you if you polish up your submissions. No one wants to have their manuscript rejected because of some simple mistakes or oversights. Take time to raise your industry awareness and hone your writing ability, it’ll pay off one day. The publishing industry moves at a snails pace, so take a little extra time and present your best work first.

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