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This blog was featured on 03/07/2018
Regina Brooks’ Tips to Securing an Agent
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
February 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
February 2018

Regina Brooks is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency with over a decade of experience with major publishing houses. Regina was featured in She Writes University webinar series in 2017. Here are some of her suggestions for landing a dream agent from last year’s class.

If you’re interested in more, check out the lineup for She Writes University 2018. Instructors include Jesmyn Ward, Christina Baker Kline, Lisa Ko and more!

What do agents look for?

Agents want first and foremost a book with strong writing. Is your story character-driven; do you have a compelling mystery? Does your writing make your audience laugh? Does your writing make readers want to turn the page?

Is there a narrative hook? Regina makes note of the SMILE analogy. Quality hooks should be:

  • Shocking
  • Memorable
  • Inspiring
  • Loving
  • Entertaining

While it’s not mandatory, authors should have some sort of a platform and should be connected to a community of readers so there is some sort of audience established. If you’re writing non-fiction, are you an expert in your field?

Before pitching

Do your research to find like-minded agents. In today’s publishing world, you can find so much information about agents online through their websites, Google searches, online writing publications, etc. Find an agent who most aligns with what your philosophies are and who will be a strong advocate for your work beyond the first book.

Write a killer query

There are several aspects to a query, and there’s a sort of formula to follow. You’ll need to include the following for your query to stand out in the vast slush pile:

  • What’s your word count?
  • What genre are you writing in? Be specific. You don’t want to say ‘it’s a romantic thriller with science-fiction elements and a bit of magical realism tossed in.’ That doesn’t tell the agent anything other than you haven’t done your homework and don’t know what genre you’re writing in.
  • Create a brief synopsis (about 1-3 sentences) that will grab the agent’s attention.
  • Do you have a platform and how can you help promote your book.
  • Bio. You don’t have to include everything, just the topics that may be relevant to the writing of this book.
  • What is included in this query (are you sending the first chapter or the first five pages; be specific in your details).

Regina then breaks down the query paragraph by paragraph:        

PARAGRAPH ONE:

Here you’ll want to include why you are interested in this particular agent, what your word count and genre are, and your title. Capture the essence of your book in twenty words or less here.

PARAGRAPH TWO:

Share a brief synopsis here including who your protagonist is, what are the goals and stakes, setting, antagonist, is there an obstacle for your character? Keep it short. This part is usually the hardest section to complete. You want this synopsis to outshine all the others the agent has read that day!

PARAGRAPH THREE:

Here’s where you include your bio (keep it short), any platform you have, marketing or promotional plans. If you’ve been published before mention this whether it’s print, online, or another book. If you’ve published another book, include sales figures if you have them.

Crafting a query is hard work, but if you follow the suggestions here, you’ll be on your way to finding the agent of your dreams.

And for even more great writing advice, tips, and tricks from the masters, sign up for She Writes University 2018. Classes begin April 5th!

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