AGENT KNOWHOW Your Submission Package

In our new Agent KnowHow series, Louise Lamont, literary agent at LBA Books, tackles that all-important question - what gets a submission package noticed?

There is a lot of detailed, nuanced advice about how to land an agent with the perfect submission package.

This is not that.

Sometimes, all that advice can make submission packages feel even more daunting. So I’ve kept these guidelines to their simplest-but-still-effective form. Nothing other than your book can win you an agent – but I hope using the below as a checklist will at least take some of the stress out of putting your submission together.

Agents ask for the same three things in a submission package:

a) cover letter
b) a synopsis
c) the opening of your book – usually the first three chapters or the first x number of words


Remember that the only real purpose of the cover letter is to make me excited to read your book. Everything else is surplus to requirements. Keep the focus on getting the key details about your novel across, like so:

Dear [name of the agent]

I am writing to submit my [insert descriptive genre: rom-com/horror/psychological thriller] novel [insert title of novel].

A one (maximum two) paragraph description of your novel, introducing your main characters, the setting, the conflict and the stakes.

Model your blurb on the short pitches you find on the back of any published book - you’re trying to intrigue an agent just as those blurbs are trying to intrigue a customer.

You can include a line that suggests comparable authors or titles – but this isn’t essential.

One or two lines (maximum) introducing yourself and any relevant facts – writing accomplishments, for instance, or why you came to write this book. Keep it brief.

I have enclosed the [first three chapters and synopsis] as required, and I will look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

[insert author name]

And that’s it.


This is a simple, clear outline of your complete plot – all twists and ending included. It should be no longer than a page. Don’t sweat it.


Check what the agency you’re submitting to asks for exactly – is it the first three chapters or the first 5000 words? Submit that.

And there you go! That’s all you need to do. Take pride in everything you write – a slapdash cover letter will make me wonder how much care you take in your novel-writing. But don’t let the submission package intimidate you – you’ve already written a whole novel; you’ve done the hard bit. As I hope the above has shown, you can keep it very simple and still make it an effective introduction to your work.

Good luck!
* Main image by Bundo Kim

Louise Lamont is a literary agent at LBA Books. After studying English Literature and Medieval Studies at university, she has worked in literary agencies since 2006. She currently splits her time between Edinburgh and London.

Do you have any suggestions for KnowHow? If there's something you'd like to know how to do or know more about, tell us. Email KnowHow editor, Eleanor at

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