Authors: Hire An Agent’s ‘Agent’ to Sell Your Book

Landing an agent for your book is more difficult now than ever before. You have to know exactly what to say and how to say it in your query letter to beat out your competition and to increase your chances of ever getting signed.

As a professional book publicist, ( I am frequently asked to find an agent for my clients. While I know many agents and publishers and work with them, it’s not what I do. But, from time to time, I find someone who can really help out my clients and I’ve found that person. His name is Jeff Rivera, founder of Gumbo Writers based in New York City.

Rivera has been featured or mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, New York Observer, Fast Company, TMZ, NPR, Billboard Magazine, Huffington Post, and many other publications. Rivera interviews high profile power players such as Janet Evanovich, Jeff Kinney, Seth Godwin, Philippa Gregory and James Patterson for Mediabistro’s “Galley Cat” considered the publishing world’s TMZ.

Jeff’s query writing service is the #1 service of its kind. He crafts the perfect query letter for you, then selects the right literary agents to pitch to and sends the query out to them. Jeff guarantees at least 10 top agents will request your manuscript or book proposal. Jeff says this has worked successfully for more than 100 clients. That’s remarkable when you think that many writers cannot get even one literary agent to request their work, let alone read it. His record is over 200 agents requesting one client’s work. For one of my clients he got 19 requests. I was astounded and so was my client.

“Most aspiring writers have shot their chances of ever being represented by a literary agent before the agent has even had a chance to read their query letter,” explains Rivera. “Why? Because agents and people like me who work in the book publishing industry, know in two-seconds flat who is professional and who is not, just by a simple glance at their query letter.”

Rivera, who has ghost written countless successful query letters for clients, stresses that first impressions are everything and that there are a few common mistakes aspiring writers make over and over again that block them from being taken seriously. “It’s really unfortunate because there are some very talented writers out there but writing a query letter is a whole other art,” adds Rivera.

As a book promotion specialist who deals daily with the media, I learned a long time ago that a common mistake in crafting pitch letters is making them too long. The same is true of query letters to an agent. A query letter should be no more than half a page. You have to know exactly what agents want to hear, what they’re looking for. Tell them only that and end the letter right there! Keep it short, keep it sweet and you’ll be one step closer to landing an agent.

The next key to a successful pitch letter to the media and a successful query letter to an agent is the first sentence. Here are some ways to grab an agent’s attention in the very first sentence:

  • Start with a question that makes them ponder
  • Talk about a dramatic moment in your personal life that connects with the book you’ve written
  • Tell them immediately about your platform
  • Compliment them on a specific recent sale
  • Tell them who referred you

Remember that referrals are an aspiring author’s best friend. If you can find someone the literary agent knows to recommend you, or at least someone who will allow you to use their name in an introduction, you’ll be ten steps ahead of everyone else. When someone else refers you or recommends you to an agent, you are brought in at that same level. You don’t start from ground zero, like all the other aspiring authors, but begin on a whole other plane. Always, always, always get the person’s permission to use their name before you mention them. And because you’ve gotten their permission your referral person also may even be kind enough to give the literary agent a call or email to let them know that you’ll be reaching out to them.

Remember that agents are in the business of selling books. They’re not our best friends, they’re not our therapists, and they’re not our life coaches.  The best agents put their nose to the ground, they focus on what they do best which is generating enough excitement on a book and sell it for as high a price as possible. When you get paid, they get paid. End of story.

One novelist hired Rivera who wrote one sentence about what the novel was actually about. “Don’t you think we should tell them more about it?” the client asked. Rivera told him, “Who cares what it’s about? You’re a regular guest on Fox News.”

A book agent or book publicist can turn your manuscript into a best seller – if you listen carefully and follow their advice. You know how to write – they know how to sell your book.

The bottom line: Why reinvent the wheel? Sign up with an “agent’s agent” like Jeff Rivera by dropping him a note at and then listen to his advice.

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC Nightly News, The New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at or contact Lorenz at or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist.


  1. says

    I agree with Wade. I tried to get in touch with Jeff Rivera a while back, trying to acquire his publicity services. There was no reply. I just assumed he doesn’t work with already published authors, so I proceeded to do it myself.