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The business of writing: Agent attraction

Attracting an agent can be the start of a long business relationship. Simon Whaley flirts with two agents to learn more about the wooing process.

At this time of year many literary agents are talking Frankfurt. The Frankfurt Book Fair is one of the biggest gatherings of publishing professionals in the world. Over 600 agents from more than 300 agencies from over thirty countries will get together around tables at its Literary Agent and Scout Fair to negotiate rights and deals. As Jonny Geller, literary agent and joint CEO of agency Curtis Brown, says on the Frankfurt Book Fair website: ‘The Frankfurt Book Fair can transform the hopes and dreams of an author. A place where a book can go from a local idea to a global phenomenon.’

That doesn’t mean that every writer who secures an agent will find their book becoming the next global phenomenon, but when it comes to the business of writing, having an agent can open more doors for you. Most mainstream publishing houses only accept submissions via agents, so attracting an agent means your writing can be put in front of people you don’t have access to on your own. And then, of course, comes the negotiating skills that an agent can bring to the table when a publisher falls in love with your book.

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