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Looking for an agent? It's never too soon. Of course, you can do like so many writers and write your book first -- then go looking for an agent and a publisher to buy it. But that's not a particularly business-like approach to writing.

In fact, if you seriously want to publish a successful book you should approach the project just like a business. You want to identify your market -- who will read your finished work. Then you want to put all the pieces in place. Who are the agents and the publishers who specialize in the kind of book you expect to write? What do they look for? What do the books they select look like on the book store shelf? What kinds of success have they worked with? How does your book fit into their normal catalogs? What makes you different?

Typically, you'll pitch your story to an agent who likes to work with the kind of writing you propose. Find out if they work with new writers (if you are one). What is their interest in seeing your work? How much of your project do they like to see finished before they are willing to work for you? They will tell you what needs to be done, whether you need to deliver a summary and two chapters or an outline. They should be able to help you refine your project to maximize interest, since they have a handle on what publishers want. Do your homework. Find out what kind of reputation and track record the agent has. In your initial negotiation with the agent, evaluate just how enthusiastic and effective the agent might be in placing you with a quality publisher. 

Agents specialize in marketing book length projects. An agent's job is to know what editors and publishers are looking for and to negotiate the best possible contract for you. Do you need an agent? Well, yes and no. There's nothing that says you can't do the work of finding a publisher and overseeing the process yourself. But if you want to get accepted by some of the major publishers and if the name of the publisher is important to you, then you really do need to get an agent. Some of the bigger publishers will not deal directly with writers. 

There's also the issue of time and focus. You put a great deal of your time and energy into writing your book. If you need to stop your creative process to get out and promote yourself, you may seriously hinder your progress. It makes sense to have an Agent on your team. 

Not only does an Agent do all the time consuming work of getting the attention of the movers and shakers in publishing, but the Agent also gives you a very important edge. Just as in any business promotion, people don't always believe what you say about yourself, or pay much attention to advertising/self-promotion. But when another person promotes you -- can speak on your behalf -- then you are positioned for success.March 21, 2017 begin your project with confidence, knowing that there is a good chance that your finished product will get a fair reception. 

Here are some good places to begin your search for an agent: 

Free References for Writers

Literary Market Place

Writer's Market Instant Access to Editors and Agents WritersNet is an Internet directory of writers, editors, publishers and literary agents.

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