Magazine article The Quill

'Agent' Shares Inside Secrets

Magazine article The Quill

'Agent' Shares Inside Secrets

Article excerpt

The Insider's Guide To Getting An Agent

By Lori Perkins

Writers Digest Books $16.99

In the era of affordable self-publishing, the Web, and cheap photocopying, where does agent and now author Lori Perkins think she's going with this book?

Pretty far, if you ask me. This is a great how-to book for would-be authors of books in that great unknown and critically important area: the literary agent.

I remember my days as a freelancer, picking up assignments here and there - enough to give me the confidence that I could make a living as an independent writer the rest of my working life. No set hours. No managing editor barking at me. No assignment editor sending me places I really didn't want to go. Yes, I used to think, I can make it as a freelancer, picking and choosing my assignments, developing a specialty or two, becoming recognized for my ability to tell a story - print or broadcast - compellingly, and I know how to meet a deadline.

That's the journalism part. Almost any well-trained journalist can do that if they really put their mind to it. But what about the Holy Grail of writing? What about The Book?

Unless you're already famous (or infamous) no one will pay you to write a book until you've actually had one published. Then again, unless that first book sells pretty well, no one will pay you to write a second one.

I remember buying another how-to book a long time ago that promised to demystify the book publishing business by giving step-by-step instructions in book proposal writing. At the time, I had written what I thought was a pretty good book myself, and I followed my new mentor's instructions to the letter. He was, after all, a veteran of the publishing business. To my surprise, I received enthusiastic letters of interest from three different publishers. Each asked to see sample chapters based on the descriptions in my proposal. …

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