Why You Need A Literary Agent with Carly Watters was one of our most popular shows! Carly divulges why you need a literary agent, what she typically looks for in queries and how an agent can help you secure a book deal and build your author brand. You can listen to the replay at the bottom of this post. Literary Speaking is hosted on the Vividlife.me network and you can tune in LIVE every Tuesday at 11am EST/8am PT or listen to the replays by clicking here.

Getting Published in the 21st Century: Advice from a Literary Agent by Carly Watters
Carly’s book is available now on Amazon Kindle.


Carly, for memoirists, what kind of platform numbers should they work on building before contacting an agent?

I think the big thing is getting your writing out there. Pitching magazines, websites etc… with creative non-fiction to hone your voice and find an audience for your types of stories. With that level of expertise (published essays) will come a Twitter or Facebook following if you choose to curate it (which you should). A following in the thousands is ideal, but not expected from a debut. However, numbers are a great piece of leverage that will help you get a book deal and build an audience for your book.

What word counts should authors stick to before sending their work out? I know this varies depending on genre but what is the general rule of thumb for each?

Here’s a good resource: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/word-count-for-novels-and-childrens-books-the-definitive-post

Have you ever turned a book down for having too many words?

Yes. If you don’t know where your story begins and ends, that’s a problem. I will ask writers to trim from 100k to 85k or 90k if need be.

Are there any warning signs an author should look for when selecting their agent?

Yes. Agents should not take money from their clients up front i.e. no reading fees. You should know how to reach them and they shouldn’t be evasive about it. They should pay you in a timely manner when income comes in from your books. You should ask how long they’ve been around or their agency has been around. Experience is what makes an agent successful. The AAR has a canon of ethics that most agents I know follow generally: http://bit.ly/1QLcpDB

How can they be sure someone is qualified to be a literary agent?

Agents have track records of selling books. You can find that information on their sites or on Publisher’s Marketplace. If they are a new agent and they don’t have a track record ask what kind of support they have at their agency and who will be reviewing their contracts.

What’s the best part about being a literary agent?

Being a writer’s first fan. Sharing the excitement of it all with them. Reading amazing things before they become books. Seeing a writer’s career or platform grow. Holding finished copies in your hand and know that you had a part in it.

What are you reading right now?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara