How a Self-Published Author
Can Get a Legitimate Agent

by Jeff Rivera

If thereís one thing I canít stand, itís people who say theyíre going to do something for you and they donít. So I began my journey from agent hell to finding the best agent in the universe.

I never had a problem getting an agent. Thatís always been easy for me. I donít know why. But finding the right agent has been an awful experience for me. Iíve met some of the most beautiful sweetest agents in the world, God bless them, but being beautiful and sweet donít sell no books. And it ainít going to pay rent at the end of the month either sweet heart.

I seemed to attract, or as my therapist would say, be attracted to people who said they were going to do this or that for me and they didnít. Some of them had powerful connections and relationships and even celebrity clients, but for some reason their attention was more focused on those relationships and not lilí olí me. Now I can understand in retrospect, they were in the business to make money and if they couldnít make it right away theyíd drop it like itís hot and I would be left saying, ďHello? Ö Hello? Ö Is anybody home? Remember me?Ē

I began writing a novel out of frustration from not selling my screenplays and found that I had a real passion for it. My first novel was called Forever My Lady. It tells the story of a Latino juvenile delinquent that struggles to turn his life around while in prison boot camp. Sort of a Latino ďOfficer and a Gentleman.Ē I self-published the novel because I wanted creative control over the direction of the novel.

Everything happens for a reason, as the age-old clichť says, and I was able to land a literary agent immediately. This was a powerful agency that touted to represent many celebrities on their book deals which impressed the heck out of me. But soon I found I was client #3223.b paragraph C and not someone they paid attention to. I had to get out of there or I was going to feel frustrated. Some people say a bad agent is better than no agent at all and I couldnít disagree more. Thereís so much more you can do on your own than being stuck with someone who wouldnít recognize you if you passed them on the street.

I spent about a year hawking the novel on my own and did pretty well. I was able to get 8,000 new readers but I wanted to take it to the next level and hereís what I did.

No matter what anyone tells you about simultaneous submissions not being a good thing, let me tell you they donít know what theyíre talking about. Always remember it really is a numbers game: The more queries you send out, the more responses youíll get.

I broke all the rules. I didnít even send out a query letter. I emailed the prologue with the book cover in the body of the email to hundreds of people in the publishing industry. I didnít even have a quick note attached. It literally was just the prologue with the book cover. I made sure nothing was attached because people are paranoid about getting viruses. I knew by sending it out to the universe the right person or people would respond. And they did. I received a number of great responses and requests to read my book from not only agents but senior editors at major book houses.

I narrowed my agent choices down to two and settled on what I like to call the best agent in the universe, Jenoyne Adams from Levine Greenberg Agency.

She really ďgotĒ my writing. And she was very enthusiastic about it. She didnít even want me to mail her a copy of Forever My Lady, she wanted me to email her the book so she could read it right away. And she pursued me. I didnít have to pursue her. Itís so important for you to find an agent that is enthusiastic about your writing because theyíll need that enthusiasm to sell the book.

I was very very skeptical about having an agent and I let her know that right upfront. I told her about my agent hell experiences and she listened. Having been an author before, she understood my concerns and she even offered to have me speak to several of her clients. And I, of course, took her up on her offer. Her clients spoke very enthusiastically about her and I knew no agent who didnít have confidence in their abilities would have done that. But my one concern was that she was so nice. Dammit, I didnít want another nice agent who didnít do anything and I was afraid she would be one of those.

But she really listened to my vision of where I thought the book should go to. And she was patient and so down to earth. Well, Ms. Adams proved herself and within days of signing with her she had the novel sold to Warner Books.

It is very true that you can land a deal without an agent but having a great agent can really give you that push you need. My book had been on Warnerís desk for quite some time but one call from my agent and they read it over the weekend and came back with an offer. An agent also knows the ins and outs of the biz and no matter how many books you may read on the publishing industry, it helps to talk to someone whoís been there done that.

It is very possible to land an agent with your self-published novel. The industry isnít as jaded against self-publishing as it once was. To land an agent remember it is a numbers game and donít be so desperate to find an agent that you choose any old one. Take your time and find the right combination and youíll be thanking your lucky stars.

ó Jeff Rivera is the author of the award-winning novel, Forever My Lady.
To find out more, visit him on the web:

Literary, Subsidiary, & Foreign Rights Agents ó This Word report includes more than 1,375 literary agents, including 375 agents that sell foreign rights and another 50 or so that handle subsidiary rights sales.
This report also includes a sample foreign rights contract. $30.00.

Copyright © 2010 by John Kremer

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