Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: New York City
Talk to any literary agent and she will have stories about discovering that perfect project– the one that wouldn’t leave her alone. Today I’m going to talk about one such project that I discovered this week. On Friday I’ll reveal why I made the representation decision I made.
One of my longtime writing friends wrote to our critique group to tell us about a reporter who was doing a story about her. She told us he was an aspiring writer himself and she pointed us to a children’s story on his blog. I normally wouldn’t have time to go look at a blog but she loved the story and I needed to see why. The story is for a children’s picture book and is titled Stinky and the Night Mare by L. Stewart Marsden.
I’ve always been a children’s literature aficianado but it’s rare to come across a manuscript that is neither condescending nor “precious.” This is one of those rare ones. As I read the story I could practically see the illustrations. It’s the perfect combination of realistic and magical. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
Immediately I began compiling a mental list of the editors to whom I’d love to present it. Tomorrow I’ll share next steps but in the meantime let me tell you what it takes to catch an agent’s eye.
- An outstanding manuscript– this goes without saying.
- Perfect timing. In this case I happened to have a few extra minutes to go out to a website and read a manuscript. That’s a rare occurrence and had I been at my desk instead of on the road, who knows?
- A connection. This is not required of course but in this case one of my friends pointed me in this direction. In the place of a recommendation, a meeting at a conference or a stand-out query may do the trick.
- A match between the agent and the genre or subject. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.
In the meantime, use the comment section to tell us your story of being discovered. Or about how you discovered a brilliant piece of writing and why it appealed to you.