Book Writing, Self Publishing, and Marketing Coach

What a Literary Agent Wants From You When you Contact Them

I’ve known literary agent, Michael Larsen, for many years. If you write non-fiction, you’d be lucky to work with him. Here’s what he wants as he responds to an recent email from an author.

Many thanks for writing about your book. Out of necessity, our goal is to sell books to New York houses, and they want writers with a platform and a strong promotion plan. Because we can usually tell from a platform and a plan if we can help a writer, that’s where we like to start.

Your plan will follow “The Author’s Platform,” a list in descending order of impressiveness of what you have done and are doing, online and off-including numbers when possible-to give you and the subject of your book continuing visibility with potential book buyers. A plan shows how you will leverage your platform to get books to the cash register. Editors will be wary of a plan unless it’s a believable extension of an author is already doing.

Your plan starts under the subhead Promotion and begins like this: “To promote the book, the author will:…” This is followed by a bulleted list of what you will do, online and off, to get books to the cash register in descending order of impressiveness, and when appropriate, how many of them. Each item on the list begins with a verb.

Numbers are very important to publishers. For example, having a blog and writing “Will give talks” won’t help. Publishers will want to know how many people read your blog and how many talks you’ll give and to how many people, which has to be based on what you’re already doing.

You’re welcome to email me just your title followed by your platform and promotion plan, written as I’ve suggested, in the body of a letter, not as an attachment, followed by your query letter, whenever they’re ready. Please call Monday to Thursday, 10 AM-4 PM, California time, with questions.

If you haven’t already, please check the helpful information on our site. There’s information about platform and promotion in the new fourth edition of my book, “How to Write a Book Proposal.”

Got questions? Email Literary Agent Michael Larsen at larsenpoma[at] or contact him to see all the valuable tips he gives plus his many programs at

  • Etha Gray

    Hi, Judy, I read your comments and found them interesting. I will reread them later and see if I can follow your instructions. There are some very personal reasons that I might require more than the usual 'tip' for my own personal promoting. Sometimes it's a struggle. If you would go to my site: and read the excerpt from "Surviving the Storm" you might get a glimmer of what is happening.

    Thanks - Etha

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