Note: Because the server was down most of yesterday, Wendy’s blog post will stretch over into Wednesday. You can catch Rachel Kent next Wednesday.
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
A question asked of nearly every agent panel is, “What do you look for in a client?”
I’ve heard this question answered by hundreds of people, some agents, some not. Unfortunately their answers often bear little resemblance to mine. What are some of those things you’ve heard? How about “a great book?” That’s a given, but only part of the answer.
I’ve heard untold writer-hopefuls bemoan the fact that agents are only looking for published writers. Bzzzzzzz. Thanks for playing. Try again.
I’ve also read anti-agent bloggers who rant that agents are all trolling for A-list authors and we agents would all be happiest if we had a client list of only New York Times Bestsellers. Wrong again.
In my next four blog posts– I’m the Books & Such Tuesday blogger, so these will be over four Tuesdays– I’m going to talk about four different level writers and what I look for at each level. Today I’m talking about the unpublished writer. Next week I’ll write about what kind of writer in the early stages of his career interests me. Following that I’ll address the well-published writer who’s much in demand. And finally I’ll talk about the challenges agents face in representing the writers with mega, A-list careers.
Before I begin, let me clarify one other common misconception about agents I often hear at writer’s conferences, “Why is he here? He’s not taking any new clients.” I don’t know a single agent who is not open to a new client if the right person or right project came along, no matter how full his practice. There is always attrition. I’ve had writers retire. Others have taken a sabbatical to raise a family. Some clients have left me and some I’ve let go. An agent’s list is always in flux for one reason or another. Don’t ever discount your dream agent because someone tells you her list is full.
Speaking of full lists, mine is pretty full. Any successful agent who’s not new on the scene is in the same boat, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to unpublished writers. Every editor, every agent dreams of being the one to discover the next Harper Lee, the next To Kill A Mockingbird. It takes no talent to sign a much published author but it takes a real eye to spot genius and we are all addicted to that quest. I looked at my current client list. 48% of them came to me unpublished. Only 6.5% are still unpublished. At the conference I just attended I made an offer of representation to two more unpublished writers.
So, what do I always look for in an unpublished writer:
- A near-perfect manuscript— This goes without saying. The competition is steep so this is the prerequisite. That said, don’t forget, taste is subjective. What one agent may reject, I may enthusiastically embrace. Unfortunately, we are seeing too many manuscripts too early. One editor uses the term “workmanlike” to describe this. It’s all elbows. Every technique seems to jut out. The writing is self-conscious and overworked. The book that excites us is the product of a confident writer who has mastered the craft.
- A distinctive voice— I’m looking for someone who will stand out in a crowded field. If you are writing nonfiction, I’m looking for the writer who can become the go-to person for his category. In fiction, I’m looking for the author who knows the difference between his own unique voice and each character voice.
- A professional attitude— Very important to me. We’re looking to build a team and I want to work with writers who take their work seriously. Before becoming an agent, I spent more than two decades as a successful artist/designer in a tough industry. I never had patience for “artistic sensibilities” then. I’m not likely to change.
- A winsome personality— The dictionary defines winsome as generally pleasing and engaging. Some agents love snarky writers with attitude. Not me. Life is too short to have to clean up all the messes left in the wake of a clumsy personality. Since I get to choose who I work with, I prefer the same kind of people I’d choose as friends. People who add richness to my life.
- A hope and a future— I look beyond the one book to a long-term career. I want to know what book number two and three and ten might be. I want a client with career potential. Does that mean I wouldn’t consider a seventy-year-old writer? No. My favorite book of all time is And Ladies of the Club, published when the author (Helen Hooven Santmyer) was 88. Had that book come to me, I would have done anything to represent it. Some careers can be significant with one book. (Think Harper Lee.)
- A great platform (for nonfiction)— Publishers are risk-averse these days. They are reluctant to publish nonfiction from unknown writers. Not saying it doesn’t happen but it is an uphill battle.
- An impressive “tribe”— A writer who can use social media with skill and finesse is very attractive these days. One of the writers to whom I extended an offer of representation last week was a frequent blog reader. I got to know her first through her interesting comments right here on our blog.
- A writer who will add to our community— This one is specific to Books & Such. Unlike most agencies, we have built a collaborative community of clients. We gather for retreats and we host online forums to communicate and help one another. When we consider potential new clients we take the whole community into consideration.
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Thank you so much, Wendy.
As I younger, less-practiced writer I probably would have found a post such as this to be a little daunting. Looking at it now, it is exciting. I’m looking forward to your other posts as well.
I like that you add qualities about attitude and personality – a reminder that we’re not supposed to be focused just on the business side of things, but this is a mutual investment in people.
Likewise, Sarah, you need to look for the right personality match with your potential agent. It’s not a one-way street. Some writers want an agent who is all business and a tough attitude– a shark. Others want a friend. Most want someone in the middle.
This seems like a lot to learn about a person with whom your relationship will be mostly long-distance! Do you generally puzzle together the personality of a potential client from their correspondence or in a conversation at a writer’s conference? Is the nature of an agent something writers should ask the agent’s references?
Kim Van Brunt
Thanks for this post, Wendy! It affirmed what I’m doing right, as well as giving me some ideas for my focus in the coming year. Thank you for giving unpublished writers hope as well as realistic advice. It was so nice meeting you last week at Mount Hermon. I love being able to continue the conversation here!
Kim, it was a delight to meet you. When I spoke of professional, you came to mind. 🙂 Not only professional in person but your material was well-prepared and impressive.
Kim Van Brunt
Thanks Wendy, that means a lot. (By the way, I emailed you on Friday! Let me know if you got it.)
The agent-writer relationship sounds so much like courting and marriage! Actually, more like a blind date with your room mate’s brother’s friend who only likes babes who have *it*. But *it* is undefinable and arbitrary. And hopefully not PMS-ing. Or crying over Twilight.
Hopefully I can have a good hair day when we do meet. 😉
Fun analogy. Of course the nice thing about finding an agent is that most of it is based on a concrete query and proposal. Don’t you wish you could prepare that for a blind date and get all the details out of the way first before you deal with the chemistry. 🙂
I have to know chemistry too? AH!
The server told me I was “forbidden”. Try reading that AFTER your comment about concrete proposal. Back away from the analogy….
I met with an agent at a conference who suggested the fifteen minute consults were like speed dating. I told her, “I just need an agent to love me.” He he.
Hmmm! I have a manuscript sitting on an editor’s desk right now. But–no agent. I’m fun!! Still learning. Giving a total of four workshops at a small writing conference this weekend. And . . . did I mention I was fun?!!
Thank you, Wendy, for this heads-up. It is an encouragement. Perhaps I’m not too old after all.
Julane, don’t forget, you can get your agent at several different places in your career– even if you have an offer in hand. Just remember not to accept the terms right away if you plan to seek representation.
Your description of the occasional vacancy on an agent’s client list reminds me of trying to call a popular radio talk show. You normally get a busy signal. If you are so lucky to call at exactly the moment a line becomes available and get through, you are in a queue that will mostly likely keep you from getting on the air.
I’d like to think my manuscript is near perfect, but alas it crosses between genres. You didn’t mention anything about one quality being a writer who knows the genre and follows the genre “rules”, but I suspect that’s built into the perfect manuscript thingy. Possibly my strength is the hope and future, since my problem is not coming up with something to write but rather sorting through the 30+ novels currently buzzing around my gray cells, waiting their turn to come out—or at least be summarized or outlined.
If you have a tough cross-genre novel, perhaps you need to put that one aside for later and write the novel that will get you your first contract and your agent. When you are more well known that finished manuscript can be sold.
Ah, Wendy. Every week, I swear I will leave you alone. And every week, you post something that is so old school, I have trouble resisting. But I promise this is the last one.
Regarding Harper Lee. I don’t think she would have been a good client for you. She was a loner and an individualist. She would have hated social media and refused to participate in it. In fact, she did, by refusing to write again.
She told a close friend why she never wrote again: “I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill A Mockingbird for any amount of money”.
Choosing clients based on winsome and compliant personalities may make you enjoy your retreats with them more, but it is unlikely to find you the next Harper Lee.
Add: Of course, Harper Lee probably wouldn’t have been looking for an agent. Nowadays, she would have gone her own way.
I’m also struck by the contradiction between saying that authors should seek traditional publishing for their editing services, and the submission to an agent of a perfect manuscript in the query.
Those two things seem to conflict.
Okay, I’m sorry. I’m done.
I don’t know. You should see my list. I have some fine, fine writers.
Thank you, Wendy, for this post! I have hope…Oh boy, do I…a future is not a problem, either. I have at least 18 ideas that have taken up residence in my jam-packed brain. Now I just need to buckle down and finish writing them. 🙂 Have a great and productive day!
Ideas are a good thing! Be sure to make note of them. Don’t leave them in your brain– the more overcrowded it gets the more likely it is to start forgetting good ideas.
They each have their own folder on my computer and most have their own notebook, for the purpose of not forgetting them. 🙂
I love posts like this; it gives me a “checklist” of sorts to work toward. And I’m a list lover. 😉
I think I excel at having a professional attitude and being a team player. I hope I excel at my craft too, but there is always improvement to be made; plus, it can be difficult to know exactly where you are at with having an outstanding story. Like you said, writing is subjective! This can make it difficult to receive “accurate” feedback. But perseverance is key.
And I’m loving using social media–blogging, Twitter, Facebook in particular–to meet new people online.
As you can tell I’m a list maker, too. Sounds like you are doing a good job getting out there and working on the craft.
Thanks, Wendy. 🙂
And we list makers need to stick together! LOL
Wonderful post, Wendy. I enthusiastically agree that there is much to be said for the connection between personalities. 🙂
…and as for social media use, I’m continually amazed at the ways it can enhance a writing career. I’ve connected with fellow writers, readers, my online book club co-host, all via social media. In the past few days, we’ve had Tricia Goyer, Mike Yorkey, and Regina Jennings all stop by our FB book club page to discuss their stories with our readers. Janice Thompson’s Titanic FB Cruise (as discussed in Janet’s post yesterday) is a prime example of social media creativity. What an exciting time to be a writer… and a reader, too!
I know. Creativity and innovation are changing the landscape.
Finishing my cuppa and meditating on your great post Wendy. I’m not “excelling” at the moment, but building and refining the vision.
Appreciate your direct approach to what you “always” look for in a potential client. As a unpublished writer, I think it’s important to meet agents at conferences if possible. Reading a blog post may acquaint you with a person, but observing and talking with an agent may help an unpublished writer make a better decision in pursuing representation.
I consider my time precious, or as My Sweet Husband says, “time is money,” and after meeting a couple of agents, my list grew shorter. I absolutely agree…the relationship of author-agent is much like choosing friends.
Thanks again for your sharing your insights and experiences.
I agree, kate. Face-to-face meetings are most important.
We watched To Kill a Mockingbird this weekend again–it’s my hubby’s all-time favorite movie. 🙂
Love the question at the end of this.
What do I bring to the table?
1. Dedication to write the best book I can, which includes ongoing education about the writing craft, the publishing industry, and marketing.
A thick skin (after working for 3 years in an all-male, exacting environment, I can sift through criticism and get over indignation quickly) and I’m open to advice.
An accessible persona that works in my favor online. I’m a firm believer that readers buy books from people they like. 🙂
What do I need to work on? Well, I’m no Harper Lee! I hope to continue to work on all aspects of my career. I like the challenge!
And we don’t need another Harper Lee. Her book was for a certain milieu– a quieter time. It takes a different book to engage a different generation. I used to love James Michener– probably still would– but we’d never be able to sell his books today. Too slow. (Think of the whole goose preface in Chesapeake.) Too detailed. Too long.
You have the perfect attitude– seeing it as a challenge. Very little gets handed to us on a silver platter. As an agent, I relish the challenge of my job as well. It’s hard but the challenge is what makes it a delight.
I just read Wedell Berry. It was great to slow my pace – Like I needed it.
Unfortunately for my writing, I love Michener. He’s in my top five for sure, probably my top three. That’s the type of books I love to read most. And since I write what I like to read, I’m DOA. Chesepeake is my least favorite of all his books.
Your persona is definitely accessible, Jill! I’ve been loving your vlogs. They help us get to know the “you” behind the writing. 🙂 [And that “you” cracks me up!]
And I would add to your “what you do well” list your genuine desire to help out other writers, and your Christ-like desire to truly be a light. You’re a gem!
Thanks! I don’t try to emulate any other authors, because it’s impossible. What comes out on the page is all me. And I can tell you love a challenge. You always come across as powerful and intelligent. 🙂
Nathan, I haven’t read any James Michener, but now that you recommended him, I’ll give him a whirl! Did you like Hawaii? That title is jumping out at me. I must need a tropical vacation. 🙂
Lindsay, well of all the nice things to say! You just made my day. And I could say the same about you–thanks!!
Sorry, Nathan and David, I mixed your replies up.
Nathan, I haven’t read Wedell Berry. Thanks for the recommendation!
And David, I’m adding Michener to my list. I’ve spent the last 12 years getting acquainted with classics, so this is a welcome addition.
Great, encouraging post.
Ah, hope and a future.
I’m in the querying process right now, and the daily jitters of waiting for responses do try to crush my hope and my confidence. But I have to remind myself, regardless of how I feel at any given moment, that writing is just what I do. And I can only get better.
So, even though I have trouble sometimes hoping that things will turn out in my favor, in the depths of my heart that hope is very much alive. I see the fruits of it in the books I keep writing and in the outlines for new book ideas that sometimes interrupt me when I’m writing. 🙂
Be relentless, Sarah. If this round of queries don’t net results, tweak and do another round.
That’s how we work as agents selling our clients books. We have some of the same challenges.
BTW, every time I see your name, I think what a perfect time for a writer with your name. You have a rich literary history and, with the current TV hit show, well. . . 🙂
I have my husband to thank for the name. 🙂
Like Sarah K, I am glad you mentioned qualities about attitude and personality.
I think you should of mentioned something about genre. I know you represent adult fiction and non-fiction books but you must have strengths in recognizing talent in a particular area say like romance, mystery, science fiction or what I am developing, thriller/suspense.
Good suggestion, Lori.
I specialize in the Christian market but have sold books into the general market. In nonfiction, I’m looking for the writer who is a specialist– a go-to person. Or one that has a well-developed voice and compelling content. Not so much any particular categories.
In fiction, I love a story well-told. I’m especially drawn to rich historical fiction but also love contemporary. My tastes lean more toward commercial fiction than literary fiction. The only things I do not represent at this time are Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and children’s and YA. (A whole different specialty.)
If you’re an agent and you’re telling us agent secrets, does that make you a double agent?
There was a book on NPR’s History and Society show called Imagine How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. I’m ordering it today. It was mentioned that many artists are bipolar and it is suspected that this helps them with their craft. It relates to your post in that some of the qualities you are looking for in a writer are from the creative times and other qualities you are looking for come from the focused times.
I wouldn’t use the term bipolar since that is a very specific disorder but I think the best and most successful creative people are those who draw on both sides of the brain.
If it doesn’t come naturally, like, say, to be organized and professional, it can be learned.
Writing is part creative and part business. The successful writer needs to excel in both.
The book I was referencing tells about artists who were (by the author’s opinion) likely clinically bipolar. But I agree with you that the crafting of art takes both sides of ones brain. We can learn it. I’ve written about how men and women’s brains work differently in this process. It’s a fascinating science.
I love stats, Wendy. For me, they say you are dedicated to helping writers realize their dreams–of course, they have to do a big part of the work too.
I feel like I do well with social media, but honestly, the conversation end isn’t fun for me. I post links to things people might be interested in and pin away on pinterest, but conversing with a total stranger about what she had for dinner is not where I excel at all.
My other challenge, and this goes back to the post about branding by Rachelle last week, is that I have a certain voice, but I feel I need to lighten it, make some of my books more fun and lighter. It’s not who I am, however, so it’s a work in progress.
I look forward to your future posts on this topic.
Cheryl, maybe this is terrible advice, but when I saw you mentioned thinking about trying to change your voice, I mentally shouted “no.”
We’re called to write what we’re supposed to write. Trust yourself. This business can sweep some in quickly while others wait a long, long time, and I don’t know there’s much we can do about it except continue learning and writing what our hearts tell us to write.
Thanks Jill. I appreciate that. I think it’s tough for me because I’m secretly a fuddy-duddy trying to write for kids. Even my sisters think I was born at 40. 🙂
Kathy Boyd Fellure
Great blog, Wendy.
Helpful hints that I passed along to my critique group.
Looking forward to working with you!
I’m enjoying reading your Tuesday blogs.
Kathy Boyd Fellure
Love the encouragement for all of us unpublished writers 🙂 And the specifics make it so much easier for me to evaluate my situation and the possibilities.
Thank you for this helpful post. I’m an as-yet unpublished writer who is only half-way finished with a first draft. It’s early to think about these things, but good information to keep in mind for a bit later in the game.
My co-writer and I met with Janet last year at Mount Hermon and found her comments about our Amazon novel very encouraging.
When I first started pitching to agents a few years ago, my work wasn’t ready. But you don’t know what you don’t know, and that early exposure and helpful criticism from agents who kindly took the time to listen helped me identify what I needed to work on, and to keep at it.
I used to pitch any and every agent – with this mss we’re checking out social media profiles, blogs, and other listings before querying to make sure it’s a good working/personality fit. I’ve heard having the wrong agent is worse than having no agent – can’t speak to that personally though.
The road to traditional publishing is not a road for the thin-skinned or easily discouraged.
I like your systematic approach.
I love the remark about the workman-like manuscripts. I think it’s necessary to go through that Browne and King white-bread stage before we learn to tweak the recipe a bit. For most of us, anyway.
Well, you asked what you missed…I think that what I didn’t realize early on is that a near-perfect manuscript is not only a manuscript with a strong voice and interesting plot, but one that is timely. It has to hit early enough so that it feels fresh and late enough so that it’s not too far out there. So much of this business is about timing. So I assume you’ll like it if a big concept book lands on your desk and it’s fresh and exciting, but not so weird that no one will take a chance on it.
ha ha If only I knew how to whip up one of those puppies!
You are right, Sally. An author who can connect to that zeitgeist early enough so that a book can be released way ahead of the pack will be extraordinarily successful.
A great post – thank you!
I’m still early in the query process, but I had my book copy edited and ran it by 3 critical beta readers before I even sent the first query off. With big competition out there, I wanted to put my best foot forward.
I’m a management consultant in my ‘other’ life, and submissions reminds me a lot of the hiring process in the corporate world. Thousands of resumes, only a hundred considered qualified for the opening, and probably only ten will get an interview. Being professional, cheerful, and prompt helps a good book along its path to publication.
At least, I hope so!
That’s a great comparison. And with trying to land a great corporate job, the more interviews you get, the better your chances. In finding representation, it’s the same– the more submissions, the more agents you meet, the better the chances of finding the right one.
Just an FYI: when I try to go to the info about the drawing for the Kindle Fire, I get a 403 error. Anyone else having this problem?
Joi, I’m guessing it was because our whole server crashed today. We’ll check it out and make sure it is up and running.
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Hello, Wendy. I’m so happy I came across your blog today (via Kathleen Y’Barbo’s Facebook link) – this is a great list to attain to. I am busy learning as much as I can about the industry and having a helpful blog post by an agent is priceless to me. I especially liked “A winsome personality” – winsome people are so much fun to be with. I am looking forward to reading your Tuesday blogs!
You are already on the right track– “learning as much as I can.” It will set you apart.
What a great list! I love that B&S has an online forum for their clients. That’s a really great idea. And I totally agree with you on having that right connection with those you work with. That is very important.
Thank you, Wendy! I only wish all these blogs from agents had been around seven years ago when I started writing. I had no idea what I was doing. Following the suggestion to join ACFW made a big difference. Someone asked me what I learned there and I said, “I learned that I didn’t know how to write a book.” I was going to pitch a book that I didn’t realize was missing key elements of a basic plot. I have learned so much over the past eight months and all these blogs you all do has been a big part of that. Thanks for taking the time to teach us.
“You are pure potential.” Thanks for the reminder. Today was a very good day for me to hear/read that! 😎
Wendy, your opening provides another interesting example of how people (in this case, writers seeking an agent) often try to paint groups of people with the same broad brush. It should go without saying that all agents are different and have different tastes and goals. Since I’ve been to Russia over 40 times, people sometimes say, “Tell us what Russians are like.” How hilarious. What are all Americans like? Well, we generally have two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and one body. Some possess a brain. 😉
Sorry to hear that you’ve all been pigeon-holed as greedy and looking for A-list writers. But thanks for continuing to write top-notch blog posts for those of us who aren’t! Blessings to you.
To Russia over forty times? Amazing. So, Rick, tell us what Russians are like? 😉
We all get pigeon-holed. It’s a quick way of classification. Unfortunately the process makes us lose the wonderful nuances. I’ve heard plenty of agents say, “Writers make me crazy. . .” Hmmm. What do all writers have in common? Generally two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and one body. Some possess a brain.
Ah, thanks so much to Anita Mae Draper for posting this link on FB today.
I saw a link to this blog post yesterday morning, but the site was down. Do you KNOW how torturous it felt all day to read this inviting title, but get an error message each time I clicked the link?! *grin*
You provided a much-needed lesson in patience for sure.
Wendy, thank you so much for the warm and welcoming tone to your post. You had me misty in parts. Yours sounds like a wonderful team and maybe someday I’ll be priveleged to join you.
In the meantime – back to work on revising the WIP out of it’s workmanlike state. But then that’s why it’s a work “in progress”, right?
Ridding ourselves of that workmanlike writing is such tough task. It takes bold confidence and knowing what to leave out. Especially in fiction, the moment you start obsessing over particular actions (like how to describe a fight scene, for instance) your first draft is going to be mechanical.
Thanks for the reply, Wendy. And now I can publicly cringe over my typo with privileged.
Your reply comment intrigues me because I feel there’s a learning curve during which we absorb craft so that eventually it becomes our intuitive writing style. At least I hope so.
When I began writing, I did it with joy and no knowledge of craft. Then I studied craft and lost the joy of creating. I feel like now I’m at a stage where I know enough craft so that I don’t have to consciously focus on it while I’m writing. Of course I’m also aware that there’s always more to learn, but that’s true of everything in life.
I *think* that works with your comment about mechanical writing.
Mary, don’t ever cringe over typos in comments. This is a judgement-free zone. 🙂
We want the conversation, the sense of community, to be the focus. We’re all busy and we pop in to read and talk in little snippets of time. I comment quickly and off the top of my head. I’d hate to go back and see all the typos and faulty grammar in my comments.
Thank you!! This is very encouraging to me.
Great post, Wendy. What do you consider ‘unpublished’ author? I’ve been told that if you have something under 20-40K published (ebook) that you aren’t considered as published by the industry. Do agents (you) feel the same way?
Another biggy floating around if if or when an author needs an agent. Is there any articles in archives that talk about pros vs cons for when and if a writer needs an agent?
Thank you, Calisa
We have a number of articles in the archives about when you need an agent or even if you need an agent. I talk generally about agents here: https://booksandsuch.com/?p=11392. I did a whole week of blogs that start with the word “Workarounds”. The first one is https://booksandsuch.com/blog/workarounds/. And I shatter the myth that everyone needs an agent here: https://booksandsuch.com/?p=4296.
As for what constitutes unpublished, I’m referring to authors who have not previously published a book with a traditional publisher. A writer writing under a new pseudonym would also be considered unpublished.
Wendy, Ilove your stats–48% came unpublished, only 6.5% are still there. That encourages me. And knowing that a winsome personality and a professional attitude are on the list–that encourages me, too. Being artistic does not have to equate to being dramatic or even, heaven forbid, melodramatic. It is possible to be both creative and reasonable at the same time.
I thanked God that I was no longer “forbidden” on your website this morning. 🙂
Don’t feel bad, we were all forbidden, including our tech people. Apparently we used too much bandwidth yet again and our server got even with a complete shut down. We’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
I have a renewed hope after reading this! When you work so hard to complete a manuscript, you want to have hope that you can be published. Thanks for sharing Wendy!
It’s fabulous that you attracted enough folks to crash the server! Thanks for reminding unpublished writers that we’re pure potential. There are even days when I’m glad for the “no response” because it means the potential still exists in that arena. Storing up for the day I can release this potential on the world!
Thank you Wendy!
Reading your post delighted me. Your use of “winsome” made my day (week, month!). I am committed to my work and it is encouraging to glimpse your commitment to the work you do. From this side of the computer screen agents seem so mysterious and elusive. Your clarity helps me see through the mist. What a treat!
I will be coming back!
~ again, thank you!
I am encouraged by your list, as well as your approach to your job. Bravo!
Karla @ Ramblin' Roads
As an aspiring novelist in the very beginning stages… (one might say the “pre-writing stage”) I found this VERY helpful. Thanks so much!
Thanks for this great post. I will definitely stash it away for later. Right now my focus is on refining my materials.
Thanks for the post. Great information.
Jill, I’ve read a lot of Michener. Hawaii definitely wasn’t my favorite–in fact, I couldn’t get through it. Centennial was great, as was Chesapeake, but The Source was my absolute favorite
Thanks for sharing this article. As a writer, I enjoy hearing from an agent’s perspective.
Thank you! I think this was the first very encouraging post I’ve read for the not-yet-published writer! I’m progressing in my first novel so I am full of potential :0) I’ll be putting this in my Happy File so I can refer to it when everything else out there is discouraging.
Blown away by your hospitality and effort in responding to the number of comments. Thank you for taking time to encourage us with your thoughts. I agree wholeheartedly with your points.
I appreciate your candor regarding what you look for in a new client, particularly the aspect of relationship. I think sometimes we (meaning emerging authors) become so focused on the end result that we neglect the relationships that are being built in the journey to get there. One of my favorite motivational speakers is John Maxwell and his book “Your Road Map To Success” which focused on the relationships we take with us had a major impact on my life and the choices I’ve made. Thanks again.
Very heartening, Wendy. Thanks for pointing out our opportunities to shine.
Patrick A. Parish
Excellent information, and thank you very much for sharing a perspective of an agent! If memory serves me, prior to Nancy publishing, the biggest stumbling block was the near perfect manuscript. However, thanks to someone with a Phd. in linguistics volunteering to edit (as we simply could not financially afford to pay a professional editor for Nancy’s debut book), we believe the novel is nearly as perfect as can be.
Anyways, thank you very much for sharing the information! Very validating to know that Nancy’s definitely on the right track overall.
Great post! It really highlights how the agent/author relationship is just that–a relationship. A bad attitude, negative outlook, and poor manuscript are not the makings of someone who will be a joy to work with short or long term. Good food for thought. Thanks.
Wendy, I missed this post when it originally went up, but found it after seeing today’s post (since I definitely fall more into this category!). Your words are more encouraging than I can express as so often I hear you have to have X number of FB friends, speak at gobs of national speaking events, etc. And by the way, kudos on getting so many of your clients published! That’s incredible!
Great thoughts and challenges Wendy. This helps hone in where I need to focus my energies–that workman like feel. Practice, read, study craft–practice, read, study, and repeat again and again. Sometimes I think that is all the first or second book is for!
Oh, and comments by Rick Berry–LOL! :o)
Thanks for your helpful insights. These have inspired me to tweak my letter of inquiry that I hope to send you later today.
One thing which stuck out to me, though, is that all your talented agents are females; and practically all individuals (except for one lonely voice) who have commented on your insights are also females. I hope this is not because you are partial to the female gender, but because us males are a gradually “dying out” species. Aloha!