DEBUNKING 8 Literary Agent Myths



hi everyone Alexa done here and today I am debunking eight literary agent myths these are things that I've heard a lot of people saying that are really inaccurate or false about literary agents and how they work I've seen this on reddit I've seen this on Twitter I've seen this on YouTube so I compiled a list of the ones that really drive me around the twist that I think are unfair and really misrepresent what literary agents do what they can do for you and really lead people astray from seriously considering traditional publishing who might otherwise thrive in that area so the first myth about literary agents is that you have to be famous or know someone to get a literary agent that they're only signing celebrities and people who already have connections to the publishing industry and this just isn't true as many disadvantages as there are to the gatekeeper system of traditional publishing the great thing about literary agents you know why they exist in what they do is you truly can be anyone and as long as you have a good book that an agent thinks can sell you can get a literary agent this is what the slush is for slush is when you send the unsolicited query to a literary agent pitching your book with some sample pages to get them interested in reading most authors who get book deals find their agents through the slush and they didn't have a personal connection to that agent they didn't know anyone and they certainly weren't famous I found my agent through the slush pile I had publishing industry contacts in this sense that I joined the WHI a community years ago and started getting to know people but I had zero personal connection whatsoever to the agent that I signed with she just liked my book so I promise you you don't have to be famous and you don't have to know someone just write a great book write a great query carry that agent query list send it out and you never know what could happen the second myth about literary agents that is just not true is that agents love rejecting people while rejection is a natural part of an agent's job you know any given agent they simply they don't have time treat everything not everything is going to be to their taste and not everything is going to kind of be up to that publishable standard so they have to reject things but trust me they don't enjoy it all literary agents are in this business because they love books they love reading and every agent is looking to fall in love with a great book that they can then sell and work with an author to help them make their dreams come true rejection is an unfortunate side effect just in that they can't accept everything so trust me agents are looking to fall in love they're not masochists who enjoy rejecting people this is why so many of them do use firm rejections because it's easier to kind of use something that is pre-written that is as nice as possible that they can send out without you know kind of spending too much time on each rejection because if you wallow in them it's honestly really upsetting because I think every agent is more than aware that they are crushing someone's dreams in that moment pick yourself up and keep going it often takes multiple books literary agent myth number three is that Allari agent who has a ton of famous clients and huge book deals is therefore automatically an amazing agent and better than other agents this just isn't true while of course a stellar sales history and a really good roster of authors is a good sign let me tell you I know of plenty of literary agents that have very famous and big clients and I have heard horror stories about their actual working style things that they've done to writers don't always assume that huge agent equals someone who has you know really solid business practices and won't necessarily screw you over or be a bad business partner I say this so that you don't overlook the newer or smaller agents agents who either have a boutique list or they're with a smaller agency or they're new to the business even if they're at a larger agency don't overlook them because huge clients and sales aren't always the making of a great agent myth number four is that if a literary agent has an amazing social media presence like their really sparkling and witty and wonderful and show on Twitter that that makes them a great agent that is just not true and in fact in many many cases some of the most popular literary agents on Twitter don't actually have very many sales or they're the very agents about whom you hear whispers of horror stories within the industry when you start talking to people please please please do not mistake an amazing social media presence for an amazing agent moreover there are plenty of fantastic agents who basically don't use social media at all they're not on Twitter or if they are they never tweet and that doesn't make them a bad agent I have seen this advice and it has made me cringe that oh you should have on your list of things that you're looking for in literary agent that they're great on Twitter that is a terrible way to judge whether or not someone is going to be a good business partner get their job and good for you so please please please do not correlate amazing on Twitter with amazing agent the six myths about Larry agents is that if an agent is at a really good agency that they are always a really good agent unfortunately this is just not always true now it is often true often of course a great agency breeds great agents but trust me every so often you get an agent who's out of incredibly established reputable agency with a good record of sales and they are a garbage trash fire they drop clients they lie they shock on their submissions you know they're just not good at their job they're poorly trained they're getting away with murder now I know that sounds daunting because you're like but Alexa one of the ways I'm supposed to avoid sh Meijin is to look at whether the agency they're with is reputable and I acknowledge that this is a kind of a catch-22 99% of the time that is sound advice but I'm giving you this myth for the 1% of the time when you have a great agency and there is a snake agent there who is not good despite where they work so always look for additional red flags in this case literary agent myth number seven is that aggressive and Sharkey agents are the best agents to have so there are different kinds of agents and different kinds of agent styles and one of the most visible ones is the aggressive slash Sharkey style because aggressive slash Sharkey agents tend to have the biggest clients the biggest sales they have the splashy astir ease of this went out and 48 hours later we went to a nine house auction and this sold for like $600,000 you are going to always hear those stories more than you're going to hear the vast majority of sales stories which are a lot more normal now a shark agent and an aggressive agent can be a really really really good fit for a lot of writers but you do have to consider long-term career fit so do you write in a highly commercial style are you comfortable with a more brusque aggressive agent who might make decisions for you who's going to lead with fast sales big money in a lot of cases if that sounds great to you a shark might actually on a sleepy a great fit sharks slash aggressive agents it's not a bad age sting style and it really suits authors who are churning out highly commercial work that benefits from a big sale and a huge push but for example if you are kind of quirky or niche or you're just really intimidated by that kind of thing you might not want to sign with that kind of agent there are all sorts of different kinds of agents that work for all sorts of different kinds of people but the Shirky aggressive ones get the most press and so I see most often that everyone's like oh well I need to sign with a huge agent like that if I want to succeed and saw my book and it's just not true that that you know that is the end-all be-all and the best type of agent to go for for every Raider the eighth myth about literary agents that I hear more than I would like is that literary agents are scam they are not worth their 15% and you know you shouldn't buy into the system self-publish and this is definitely a myth because here's the thing a good agent in heejun who is good at their job who does what they are supposed to do what they're there to do which is to be a business partner with an author to get their book in front of the right editor's at the right time get them good offers negotiate those offers well then negotiate the contracts that they are in their clients best interest and then help them with other career management things including being a go-between between the author and the publisher an agent who does all of those things and does those things well more than earns their 15% honestly of course you know as authors we want we want as much money as we can get but I'll say something radical some agents probably deserve more than 15% for the amount of work that they are doing for their clients agents only make money when you make money which is part of what makes this a healthy business relationship most of the time everything they do is for your benefit you mutually benefit each other it's not a scam they're not trying to cheat you out of you know your money your cut of the money they are helping to facilitate to get to you to where they are and most agents if they're good at what they do if they have good relationships and if they're great at negotiating the work they do for you way more than covers their fee they're very often gonna get you either more money or more favorable terms that all make the 15% more than worth it and that's it those are eight myths about literary agents that I think are really unfortunate that I wanted to clear up for you let me know down below in the comments if you have any questions are there any myths or things that you've heard about literary agents that you're either really mad about because you know they're not true or you're curious about cuz you're like Alexa I heard this is this true let me know down below I mean honestly I could probably come up with even more myths about literary agents and do a whole other video let me know down below in the comments I would love to hear from you give this video a thumbs up if you liked it it lets me know that you want to see more listicle type content where I'm debunking things and telling you the truth and giving you the publishing real talk if you're not already subscribed to the channel go ahead and do that oh wait I post new videos two to three times a week all about why a the industry publishing writing craft books and so on thank you so much guys for watching and as always happy rating

16 thoughts on “DEBUNKING 8 Literary Agent Myths

  1. Hi Alexa, I'm Australian but I'm writing a book set in the US and therefore would probably want to query to agents/publishers in the US (if I try to do so in Australia, it would likely be unsuccessful as they would want it set in Australia/covering Australian topics). I saw an earlier comment were you responded saying to query as usual – which is great! However, I was wondering, would this mean I have to write in US English instead of UK English? Thanks x

  2. Should I try and get an agent before I’ve finished my manuscript? For example I polish the first few chapters and send them out to an agent. Is it wrong to do so?
    And also another question about advances, I know you did a video on it but I don’t think I caught one small detail. If you can’t pay back the advance through sales, do you owe that money back to the buyers of your book?
    Thanks so much, I love your vids!

  3. Thx for this. New writers need to hear this. Thanks.

  4. Hello Alexa,
    Question: do you have to submit just ONE agent at a time, and wait for the agent tor respond; or can you submit at MULTIPLE agents, and see who replies first?

  5. Alexa you make great vids! Are there any specific agents you would recommend? I'm in a different genre than you are and I have some great book reviews but I've been wary of the whole agent thing because I've dealt with non book agents and the experience didn't go well.

  6. I have two question: 1] is it possible to have more than one literary agent — if you write more than one kind of thing, and a given agent is very in tune with some thing[s] that you've got, but might not be as enthusiastic about other things; or say, if you have some very "literary" projects, but also some completely genre interests as well; 2] can a literary agent help to get you an agent in film or tv writing? I really appreciate your videos.

  7. Great video as always! I've always have the wonder/ hesitation that as agents don't ONLY sign people with big numbers (like booktube), is it still impactful in their decision?

  8. Thank you so much for always giving great advice as a traditionally published author, and all the time and effort you put into making videos for us! I've been told that one way to find a literary agent that might be a good fit is by looking at who represents an author you like or books that might be similar to yours. Do you think this is a good idea? I just thought that an agent might not pick up someone whose book is too similar to one they already rep, or an author whose work is overall too similar to their current clients. I guess I'm still struggling to put together a list of agents to submit to in the fall, so I was wondering about that.

  9. Another informative video! It’s great to hear this sort of stuff from someone who has actually been traditionally published so thank you! ❤️

  10. Thanks for the great video, Alexa!
    Something that I've heard recently is that publishing houses have largely aligned themselves with a liberal agenda, and that if your book has conservative views, it is too difficult to even try getting your work published. What are your thoughts on this?

  11. At what point of the writing / publishing process do you start considering hiring an agent?

  12. What would you suggest one does if one wants to find a literary agent to potentially publish in the US, but that person does not live in the US?
    Love your videos btw :3

  13. Alexa Donne! Your videos are fantastic. So much of your advice is so unique here on the tubes. Always intelligent and fun to listen to.

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