Agents are not easy to come by if you don’t already have a following. It is possible to act as your own agent and sell your book (and other author’s) to a publisher. You’ve written a book you believe is sellable. What now? Should you hire an agent? Start with these basic steps and get started being your own literary agent.
You need to be knowledgeable in understanding contracts, royalties, primary and subsidiary rights, copyrights, and other business and legal matters. Study the business of publishing. It is imperative that you know what you are talking about when meeting with publishers.
Knowing what it takes to actually produce a book is important in selling your book to a publisher. Know how a book is put together. It affects how the book is priced, whom it is sold to, and what marketing efforts are needed.
Practice the art of negotiation. Take some books out of your local library and/or sign up for inexpensive classes at your local community college. Also, check with the Small Business Administration for information on workshops and other tips on running a successful business.
Get to know the markets. Check out the bestseller lists, bookstores, and the Writer’s Market. Make it part of every business day to do research on potential publishers.
Prepare a killer cover letter and a pitch. A good query letter will have a short paragraph at the beginning that answers the questions: What is this book about? Why should I (the publisher) take it on? What is your angle?
Be diligent about keeping track of the publishers you submit your work too. Always be polite and professional when speaking to a publisher. Make sure you pitch your book to the proper editor. Never send out simultaneous submissions unless the publisher specifically says that they accept them.
Don’t quit. A good agent will uncover every stone and keep submitting.