You have taken your time off to write a book; it may be inspired from your life; may be fictional or a dream sequence. The problem is that the lone reader of your book until now is you. To extend the horizon of your thoughts to others, you must approach a literary agent. Keep in mind though that he may not be as lenient to your work as you yourself are.
The first challenge which you are prone to face is similarity of concept. You might have written a sci-fi, law fiction or a romantic book and you will find that the agent has many other proposals in the same genre. This is where your query mail, proposal letter and synopsis may help you. Write them lucidly, crisply and brilliantly to attract direct attention.
Make your book’s sample chapter thought-provoking
The sample chapter of your book should be thought-provoking, inquisitive and attention-grabbing. It is this chapter, which will either make the agent go through the whole book with anticipation or lock the book in a desolate shelf. The chapter should not only carry the idea through; it should also have its share of humor and bite. That will do for starters.
Choose literary agents tactfully
You should choose literary agents who deal with your genre of books. It would not work sending a science fiction to be published by agents who deal in text books. Would it? Do your research on literary agents and don’t stop at a single one. Remember that even JK Rowling had to pass through many agents before she stopped by Bloomsbury for the famed Harry Potter series.
Keep up with the trends
Be updated with the trends. There are times when books with historical context are hot property and others when fantasy books sell like candies. Accept the trend and insert portions of them in your book. Remember, in times of fierce competition, you will need to be a pioneer or sorts to hold your head high.
Get an unbiased summation
For first timers, It is a challenge to get over the apprehension that maybe, their book is incomplete; maybe it misses a spark or maybe things could have been inserted into it. Let learned fellows around you go through your book before you approach agents. They will do a critical and impartial analysis; something which you might not do yourself (come on, you will always be partial to your work).
Take your time
Time is an important phenomenon even in books. First timers tend to rush up their stories feeling that it would keep readers interested. The book, much like life, should run at a particular pace, accelerating at the climax. Let the reader absorb himself into your story and make sure that you have developed your characters.
Learn to hear ‘no’
The biggest challenge lying for you is the fear of hearing a ‘no’. You will be very lucky to hear a ‘yes’ the first time so instead of opposing, try to find out why is the agent rejecting your work and where have you messed it up, unless you have written a ‘Paradise Lost’ and even Milton had to fight for his head to get the piece of legend printed.