In order to submit your book to a literary agent you need to research and target the right literary agent, approach them with the right information and format your submission package correctly. Our guide below will help you to format your submission package correctly. Take a look at the next page of this guide to see how you can target the right agent and approach them with the most suitable information.
Your submission letter to a literary agent should include approximately three paragraphs - just enough for a few lines about you, a few lines about the book you are writing and a few lines about any relevant credentials, writing prizes, awards or accolades. Include experience or other information that qualifies you as the ideal person to be writing on this topic. What makes you stand out in this genre? Let the literary agent know. But remember, this is not the time to include fully-blown marketing plans or film ideas.
This is where you need to be precise with your writing, get to the point but keep it interesting. Tell the literary agent what the book is about - there is a fine line between telling an agent what the book is about and how great it is. You need to believe in yourself and in your writing, but you need to let the agent be the judge of how good your book is.
Don't include exclamation marks or abbreviations in your submission letter or litter it with text-speak or poor English. Show that you have taken the time to craft a letter and that you are a literate and capable writer. If you are sending your submission via email, you should always send the email to yourself first as a test to check the spacing is correct and it formats the way it should.
If you are working on more than one project, which most writers are at the time of submission, mention these but keep it brief. The agent likes to know that you have other ideas or other writing projects on the go. However, keep the focus on the manuscript you are currently submitting. Show you are fully committed to making this book a success.
Whilst it is tempting to submit more than one writing project at time to a literary agent, it is not a good idea. In fact, it could work against you unless it has specifically been requested by the agent.
This does happen. Whether you are submitting your manuscript via post or email, it is always a good idea to include an email address, a postal address and a telephone number. You would be surprised by how many people forget to do this.
If you are submitting via email, make sure you have changed the names of the literary agency and the agent in the content and also in the cc field. Cutting and pasting is often where the problems begin with key information left embarrassingly unchanged in the text and in the salutation. Each new submission should be personalised for that agent.
Having outlined all of the above, it is also important not to sweat the small stuff. Don't over play the importance of the cover letter, remember that it is your writing that needs to grab the agent's attention. Get the essentials right as we have covered here and don't agonise over everything else. Just be yourself.