Thursday, December 02, 2010

How to Land a Literary Agent: First Get a Platform

The following guest blog post is written by Jeff Rivera, founder of

Your voice must be heard. There is no greater way to do this than to write a book. If you've ever given any thought to seriously landing an agent or being published, I'd like to offer a few tips that will speed up the process.

First, let me explain, I'm a book publishing executive who writes regularly for the #1 online trade magazine for the media & publishing called Mediabistro. I also write for GalleyCat, Huffington Post, and other key sites. I've interviewed everyone from major agents and editors to bestselling authors like James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Nicholas Sparks. I also do something else, I help connect writers with literary agents.

Publishing has changed so dramatically in the last few years that getting published isn't more difficult, it's more challenging. There's a difference and that difference must begin first with a shift in your mindset. Once you know what literary agents want, it's rather easy to land an agent.

Let's move beyond the fact that you need to write a great manuscript, because you already know that but did you know there's something else more important to an agent than ever before? Your platform. That is your built-in fanbase of readers poised and ready to purchase your book. Demonstrate you have this with at least 5,000 readers and you can land an agent quicker than you ever dreamed possible.

How do you do this? First understand, there's a difference between having 10,000 Twitter followers and having a platform. Anyone can get Twitter followers. You can even pay people to add them for you. That's not a platform.

I don't know about you but I don't tweet that often and I definitely don't read everything every person I follow tweets every day. I am not necessarily a dedicated fan of theirs. If I see their tweet, then I see their tweet. If I don't, then I don't.

As my friend, former Simon & Schuster editor Marcela Landres says in her ebook, How Editors Think, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you." Think about that difference.

The following are a few examples of legitimate platforms that will have literary agents licking their chops:

1) An opt-in mailing list of people who read your information regularly
2) If you are regularly on television
3) If you have a web series with at least 10,000 views each episode
4) If you are a public speaker
5) If you are a journalist with a column of loyal readers
6) If you have a regular broadcast radio show, podcast, or internet radio show with a significant audience
7) If you've self-published a number of books before and sold at least 5,000 copies of each
8) If you have a website with thousands of unique visitors each day
9) If you're the president of a large association or charity
10) If you're a celebrity already in another industry

There are a number of other examples of platforms you can view by visiting You'll also see over 60 examples of query letters we ghost wrote that successfully garnered requests from top agents to read our clients' manuscripts.

Remember, you only have one shot with these agents, so make sure your query letter is as solid as possible. If you need help writing a winning query letter, email and we'll help you. 100% of the query letters we've ghost-written have received requests from at least 10 top agents to read the manuscripts or proposals.

Jeff Rivera is the founder of He and his works have been featured or mentioned in Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, Mediabistro, Los Angeles Times, New York Observer, NPR and many other media outlets.
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