If Only We Had Some Advice For Writers

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

So the other day this guy tweeted me: “Any advice for a new author trying to find a literary agent?”

I feel bad for the guy. I’m sure he’s nice enough, and he’s doing his due diligence researching agents. But in the moment, the question dumbfounded me and I just totally went off. It was one-of-those-days (and it was only 9am) and I suddenly felt overwhelmed by someone wanting a 140-character answer to such a big question.

Kind of like walking up to the nearest person at Niagara Falls and asking, “Hey, is there any water around here?”

I tweeted him back: “You didn’t really just tweet that, did you?”

Do I have any advice for new writers?

Um, no. Not unless you count the 2000 blog posts here on the Books & Such blog.

I know it was an innocent question—I should give the guy a break. I did apologize to him. I know this is a difficult and confusing business, and everyone’s doing the best they can to learn what they can… in whatever way they can. (And I need to keep my emotional reactions to myself!)

Maybe I can come up with a stock answer to keep handy for when I get those kinds of tweets (because it happens frequently). Something like,

“Sure, thanks for asking! (1) Write a great book. (2) Query agents.”

Simple, to the point, and helpful, right? Or maybe it should be more like:

“Yes. Quit now. If you have to ask, you’ll never get an agent.”

What do you think? In no more than 140 characters, how should I answer the question:

“Any advice for a new author trying to find a literary agent?”
P.S. Things will be more fun if you make me laugh with your answers.
P.P.S. Don’t worry, the guy read and approved this post. Aren’t I nice?

Image copyright: ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo

50 Responses

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  1. This was tough. But when you’re writing doggerel, having a lot of dogs helps. So here goes, 140 characters including spaces.
    Muse pen’d, gilt cage,
    Her words now, ev’ry page.
    To query; to dream
    But hark! Agent-scream?
    Now wait in thy foyer
    For thy contract or my lawyer.

  2. Meg Gemelli says:

    ‪platform. Platform. PLATFORM. Write like Moore. Market like Hyatt. Speak like Shirer, but do it all in your own voice. Sleep if time permits‬.

  3. Kathy Cassel says:

    Follow guidelines. Send only the best.

  4. I suppose you could have sent the guy links to sites with advice – each as a single Tweet. Twitter, on the whole, is pretty absurd…

    or even …


  5. Don’t make me come find you. 🙂


    I’m thankful for the 2000 posts given in this agency for those who are in need of advice 🙂 I’m also thankful for the agents who take time out of their busy schedules to help give of themselves especially on days when the last thing you need is for someone to as a question which requires a novel response. We all have days where life is overwhelming or repetitious, working on our last nerve. Yesterday I asked questions alot lol. I apologize. I knew there were going to be many answers or angles they could be approached. Each person is unique and bring a different viewpoint. In my family we always said no question asked is a dumb question. Humor is good on a bad day but not at the expense of another. Giving grace is always the more excellent way. But I’ve learned to laugh at myself so here it goes. God says if you seek me you’ll find me if you search for me with all your heart. my answer “keep searching.” Yesterday I left this blog and went searching, found a wonderful teaching series showing the ocean and all the elements within. It’s a deep bottomless wonder writing is, with so many factors it’s necessary to learn the craft first before seeking an editor. Thank you for all you do here 🙂

  7. Thinking about this, it gets fun. May I try another?
    Your platform must be tall enough to give a clear view of your writing, and your writing bright enough to light my world.

  8. Katie Powner says:

    What’s a literary agent?

  9. My serious answer? Decide on the agent you think would be a good fit, check out their site for guidelines.
    *A funny answer….Do your research and be nice to the agents. And maybe offer a little chocolate. 😉

  10. Jane Daly says:

    If I tell you I’ll have to kill you.

  11. Jaxon M King says:

    I’d say first thing to do is not ask an agent how to get an agent.
    Seriously, though, there are so many articles and videos out there providing tips and guidelines. Just have to take the time to research.

  12. Wear a neon sign that says “AGENT NEEDED!” to the next writers conference.

    • LOL!! Or a sandwich board…

    • Rachelle Gardner says:

      I see that sign at every conference! It’s hidden in that specific look, deep in the eyes…

      • Linda says:

        Pray, educate yourself to become the best writer you can be, pray some more, write a good book, pray again, target your audience and build a platform, utter a few more prayers, network with other writers, pray for your writer friends, search agents who represent your specific genre, pray for the agents, study their guidelines, and…finally…PRAY.

  13. Rachelle, I tweeted my advice, to make sure it was less than 140 characters. Had 36 characters to spare (room to retweet). My advice tweet is at https://twitter.com/bloggingbistro/status/902948449473126401

  14. Wanda Rosseland says:

    Go to Mount Hermon.

  15. Advice?
    Do NOT, no matter what the voices tell you, declare your book to be divinely inspired, and threaten the agent that, forsooth, God will strike doom in those who reject it.
    Because nothing tells an agent to make a run for the (r)eject button like the threat of Biblical plagues for refusing to read a 900,000 word extra-Biblical manifesto on hems, denim, and the sin of not using that top shirt button in July.


      I love my Bible, quick powerful and sharper than any two edged sword 🙂 It’s the inspiration for my characters lives and is the word of God inspired in my work and I love how his inspiration surrounds me in the scenery, and through others sharing his light. My work is a product of this kind of God breathed inspiration. My words are definitely not perfect 🙂 MY writing as I said I am always working to improve. Advice is always welcome and as far as threatening an agent. Not in my DNA 🙂 wow doom, woa, too much judgement for my blood. Have a great week everyone I’ll be enjoying the days ahead loving writing, loving the opportunities out there to grow and soaking in the blessings God gives daily.

  16. “Write a great book” pretty much covers it … and honestly so many aspiring writers I’ve met want to skip that part and get to the “big money” … so … I like your answer.

  17. Elissa says:
  18. Lynn Horton says:

  19. Study, write, learn, write, revise, write, critiques, write, conferences, write, query, write, rejections, write, revise, write, critiques, write, conferences, write, write, write.

  20. Susan Sage says:

    Join a critique group. Go to all of the writer’s conferences possible. Grow some scales or armor. Learn to laugh at yourself.

    I laughed when I saw the heading! I hope he’s receiving Books & Such blogs now. They are priceless.

  21. Angie Arndt says:

    To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, all you have to do is, “turn blood into ink.”

  22. Subscribe to Reader’s Digest, join a quality writers group, enter some contests, attend writers’ conferences, and after two or three years revisit your question.