The Writer

PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN

IN the modern publishing world, there are many options for authors to get their books into the hands of readers. There’s always self-publishing, or one can reach out to a small press that doesn’t require an agent. But to get a book deal with one of the big five publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster), authors need a literary agent.

The problem: for many writers, literary agents seem to exist far away in an Oz-like land, where no one knows what happens behind the curtain.

Actually, agents want writers to understand what they do and why they are essential to getting a book deal with a larger publishing house. To pull back the wizard’s curtain, we spoke with three experienced agents: Shannon Hassan of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Sara Megibow of kt literary, and Dr. Uwe Stender, founder of Triada US.

“I’m very motivated to give accurate information to writers so writers can themselves evaluate what they want to do, research so they get good information, and make the best profitable decisions possible,” says Megibow. “If they decide to come looking for an agent, they have a higher percentage [chance] of getting an agent. If they want a big five publishing deal, they have a better understanding of what that means. The research part is something

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