ASK BRANDY: Aspiring authors need agents

Thursday, August 27, 2009
By Brandy Dolce

Q: I recently finished writing a fiction novel and was wondering how to go about getting it published.
Sue, 30, West Long Branch

A: I was very excited to receive this question because it gave me the perfect excuse to interview New York Times best-selling romance author – and New Jersey resident – Eloisa James. She is about to release her eighth novel, “Much Ado About You,” (Harper Collins), which is the first installment of her new series about four feisty sisters.
James first got published with the help of an agent. The agent submitted her book to a few publishers, a bidding war ensued, and voila! Eloisa James was in print.
(Sigh). Sounds like a fairy tale, right?
Sure it does. But it’s not always that easy for an aspiring, unknown author to snag a deal. But James offers a starting point.
“You need to find an agent,” she said. “Many of the best publishers will not accept unagented manuscripts.”
The blinding reality is that getting an agent is harder than getting a publisher, James said. To get an agent, you need to a write a query letter asking him or her to represent you. An agent will be your cheerleader and know where to pitch your book.
“They notice what editors have developed an interest in what (genre),” James said.
Make sure to target agents who are interested in your particular genre.

Sending your science-fiction manuscript to an agent who loves westerns will get a big N-O from the OK Corral.

“Literary Marketplace” is considered the Yellow Pages of the publishing industry. It has the names, addresses and preferences of hundreds of agents and publishers. It also is a whopping $300. A less expensive resource (about $30) is “Guide to Literary Agents 2005″ by Kathryn S. Brogan.
Before writing to every agent you find, do some research about what a query letter entails. This letter is the one thing agents use to judge your writing voice and style. In it, include the name of the manuscript, genre, word count, a book synopsis and a paragraph about yourself stating any previous publishing gigs and, of course, what makes your book different.
Finally, James said that a person who has finished a manuscript already is a writer. Now, it’s time to work on the business side of things.
For more about Eloisa James and her work, visit on the Web.
Ask Brandy accepts questions on the bizarre, the ordinary and everything in between. Questions are answered Fridays in the Jersey Life section of the Asbury Park Press. E-mail your question, name, age and town to or fax your information to (732) 643-xxxx
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