Getting Published or E-published/Literary Agents



Why is it that when you hear of established authors they all have an agent who represents then as an author, but when you hear about submitting to agents, it's more about submitting an actual book and not yourself?

I'm looking for an agent for my career, not just ONE of my books. Is it ok to query an agent about this? And to mention the body of work one has done thus far? It doesn't make much since to have to find an agent for each book one writes, but there's not really any info out there(at least not any I have found) that goes over finding an agent that will represent one's whole career. Maybe you start with one book, and if they pick you up they're likely to stick with you for more? There seems to be so many so-called rules when querying. Makes one afraid that they'll say something wrong and be ignored. Talk about walking on egg shells!

Thank you for your insights!

Rich -- The way that established authors got their agents was by showing them one book with potential. If the first book succeeds, then the agent continues to represent them. Agents are not interested in a "body of work" unless it is a published body of work, that is, previous books that have a convincing sales record, or perhaps a strong record of publishing short fiction in literary magazines (or nonfiction articles in prominent magazines, for a nonfiction writer). Occasionally an established author will help a new author connect with an agent, but even then the agent will want to see ONE book that may have potential. If you start talking to an agent about a body of work that hasn't been published, his or her eyes will glaze over. It's important to remember that agents are salespeople looking for properties that they can make their 15% on. They are not looking for developing writers who might have a book in them; they are looking for a strong book, already written or in a convincing proposal form, that they can represent.

The only exception to this rule is that some agents do take on celebrities who may not have a literary record at all, or even be able to write. If your "body of work" is in Hollywood, for instance, and you have the kind of star name recognition that's likely to sell a lot of books regardless of whether you have anything to say, then a agent will take you on, find a ghostwriter, and happily represent your new career as a "writer". For everyone else, you have to sell an agent on one book, and see if that turns into a career that the agent can represent. I was married to an agent for 15 years, so I can pretty well vouch for this.

For more information, see my online publishing guide at

best wishes,
D. Patrick Miller

Getting Published or E-published

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D. Patrick Miller


I am an independent self-publisher who sold three projects to major New York houses before starting my own company. I provide editorial services to a major literary agency in Manhattan and work regularly with authors at all levels of expertise. I can answer questions like these: What does "independent publishing" mean? Should I publish myself or use a service like XLibris? What is "print on demand" publishing? How do I publish myself on the Web? What are the best resources for learning about publishing? How do I find a literary agent? What are my chances of getting published by a major New York firm?


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