What red flags should I watch out for while seeking a literary agent?

  • Agents who want you to pay up-front fees. Competent, ethical literary agents work on commission. They make money only when they sell their client’s book. (Usually, this is 15% of the author’s earnings.) If a literary agent offers to represent your book but asks for money up front, cross him or her off your list and move on. When an agent asks for money — whether it’s a reading fee, handling fee, or deferment of expenses — that almost always means he or she is making more money from fees than from selling books. That isn’t the kind of literary agent you want.
  • Agents who offer to edit your book. Many so-called literary agents have kick-back scams with editors. Ethical agents don’t work this way because they know it’s a conflict of interest and because they’re too busy selling books and negotiating publishing contracts to engage in schemes like this.
  • Agents who won’t give you open, direct communication. It’s vital that you and your agent talk regularly so you can stay abreast of what’s happening in the efforts to sell your book or negotiate a publishing contract. If an agent won’t give you his or her direct phone number, it means the agent isn’t really interested in working with you to sell your book. Instead, the agent is most likely interested in the fees you’re paying.
  • Agents who won’t give you responses from publishers. When a well-respected literary agent submits a manuscript to a commercial publisher, he or she will always get a response from the publisher. Whether it’s good news or bad, a response will always be forthcoming, and ethical literary agents always pass that response along to their client. If an agent tells you that he or she submitted your manuscript to publishers but received no response, that usually means the agent didn’t even bother to submit the manuscript to publishers.
Questions about how my professional manuscript evaluation can help you find the right literary agent for your book? Call me at (505) 401-1021 or click here to send me email.

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