Interested in a Traditional Book Deal?

Literary agents are the primary gatekeepers to traditional publishing, and agents, like publishers, receive thousands of proposals every year. But while publishers tend to throw away the unsolicited proposals they receive, agents who want new clients sift through those proposals in search of the best prospects.

How Do You Get a Literary Agent?

Author Gateway, the online community for authors brought to you by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, put together a 3-unit course on How to Hire a Literary Agent to get the best results for your book.

In this course you will learn:
  • The role of an agent and the benefits you receive from their expertise.
  • The strategic, legal, and financial advantages of working with a literary agent.
  • How to identify the best prospective agents for you and your book.
  • What agents are looking for and how to grab their attention.
  • How to position your book and yourself as strongly as possible in your query letter.
  • How to improve your query or proposal to hire the agent you most desire.
  • Critical success factors for landing the right agent and book deal.
  • Standard agency contract terms and appropriate financial relationships.
  • Questions to ask references before hiring an agent.
  • How to obtain the best information and training possible if you decide to self-publish.

In this 3-unit course on How to Hire a Literary Agent you receive:

  • Three video sessions recorded with special guests, Pete Nikolai, director of publishing services at HarperCollins Christian Publishing and Julie Gwinn, a literary agent with The Seymour Agency
  • Instructions on how to prepare and pitch a literary agent
  • Author Gateway’s List of Literary Agents for Christian Books ($9.95)
  • A sample contract with a literary agency
  • The ebook, Complete Your Book Proposal in 5 Days (Reg. $9.95)
How Does an Agent Decide to Work With You?

See what literary agent Jana Burson has to say.

Jana Burson is a literary agent with more than 15 years of experience in book publicity and acquisitions for multiple bestselling authors at Thomas Nelson Publishers and the Hachette Book Group. In 2014, Jana launched The Burson Agency and in 2016 joined forces with The Christopher Ferebee agency where she continues to represent inspiring and life-changing )from men and women who want to impact culture one heart at a time. Jana also offers consulting services to help new and aspiring authors to determine their next steps and areas of focus. Visit her at and

As a literary agent, I often require a completed book proposal before engaging in a conversation with a prospective client.


Almost every client on my roster completed and submitted a book proposal before I started working with them. In fact, the quality of their proposals was often why they eventually became not only clients but officially signed authors.

A book proposal is your first impression and should be well thought out and presented with excellence. It’s much like when you apply for a job and your resume is the document used to decide if you should get an interview. The proposal shows an agent that you’re committed to the hard work of the process and whether or not you’ve put in the time to develop your idea as well as your platform.

There are a variety of things I look for when reviewing a proposal, but I’ll focus on the top 3.

  1. Concept/Idea – is it strong, fresh and upfront about the boldest or main thing you want to say? We know there’s nothing new under the sun, so unique isn’t what’s being looked for. It’s more about does this person have a new way of looking at something that hasn’t been covered? Does this person bring something new/fresh/different to the table on this subject? Are they the most qualified person to write on this subject? Your working title/subtitle should be a really strong part of conveying this. Your hook statement in your proposal is also where this should shine.
  2. Writing – must be excellent, engaging and clearly line up with the concept/idea. Does the flow of the book always tie back to the main idea and bold statement? Does the journey you are taking the reader on make sense and has it been well thought out? Has the content been proofread and is it error free?
  3. Platform – Does this person have an established and growing platform, with the potential for continued growth and reach? With more and more people buying their books online, gone are the days of people getting book deals with no platform. In order for a book to be successful, there has to be a built-in audience from the beginning. Platforms come in all shapes and sizes. There’s no magic number or formula but putting effort and strategy into a platform has to be something a writer is comfortable with. Things included in this category: social media numbers, email list, website/visitors, blog readers, speaking engagements, a network of influencers you are genuinely connected to, organizations you are connected to that would promote your book, etc. It’s best that these items be specific and tangible, rather than vague and broad.
Swing for the Fences!

If you have an inkling that your book is meant for a larger audience than your friends and family then give your book its best shot and learn how to work with literary agents and get a traditional book deal.

Click this link to get the course from our Resources.