Category Archives: Agents

Query letters and etiquette, researching agents, hints on getting representation, working with your agent, and more.

Ask an Agent: David Fugate Answers Your Questions!

Posted by August 6th, 2014

David Fugate

This is Part IV of Book Country’s Ask an Agent Blog Series! Literary agent David Fugate of LaunchBooks answers questions about representing self-published authors and what he looks for in a writer. Check out Part I, Part II, and Part III of Ask an Agent. 

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1.  Assuming the query letter generates your interest and the writing is strong enough in the chapters you see (and yes, that’s a big assumption), what kind of things do you look for in the writer’s personality? Or is the writer somewhat irrelevant when it comes to closing the deal with the publisher? – Steve Yudewitz

The writer is never irrelevant in any circumstance. I think any agent will always look first at the work, as if it’s not there on the page there’s not much an agent can do. Beyond that, I look for authors who I feel a strong connection to, as for me the relationship I have with my authors is a very personal one. I intentionally don’t have an assistant or use interns, and so every interaction with each author I represent is directly with me. I answer the phone, write the checks, negotiate the contracts and read the royalty statements, and I talk with my authors every step along the way so it’s important to have a great feel for working together. Continue reading

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Ask an Agent: Ryan D. Harbage Answers Your Questions!

Posted by July 22nd, 2014

Book Country Ask an AgentWelcome to Part III of Book Country’s “Ask an Agent” blog series! Literary agent Ryan D. Harbage of The Fischer-Harbage Agency answers your questions about re-querying agents, social media, and what to submit to agents. Read Part I and Part II of “Ask an Agent.”

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1. In today’s market authors are very involved with promoting their work via Twitter and Facebook. When looking over a query, do agents look at the author too and evaluate their networks? Does this have any weight?- Danielle Bowers

When it comes to nonfiction, one’s platform is a big deal. Social media is less impressive to me than an established following in traditional media—print, radio, television and/or film. And authority and expertise are even more important, most of the time. Twitter and Facebook followers usually don’t impress publishers unless the writer has a celebrity-level, or near-celebrity-level following. I encourage my clients to spend more time writing than promoting. The work is always the most important thing. Continue reading

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Ask an Agent: Melissa Sarver White Answers Your Questions!

Posted by July 15th, 2014

Ask an Agent

Welcome to Part II of Book Country’s “Ask an Agent” blog series! Literary agent Melissa Sarver White of Folio Literary Management answers your questions about the art of the verbal pitch, the etiquette of querying, and how to query when you’ve already self-published one book. Read “Ask an Agent” Part I.

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1. What would an agent want to hear in a five-minute verbal pitch? – kjmiller

The purpose of a verbal pitch or query is simply to entice the agent as you would entice a potential reader (like with cover flap copy). It is not to tell me everything that happens in the book or give a synopsis. It’s a 2-3 sentence logline that should display tone, writing style, main character and major conflict – I should feel interesting, dramatic and full of energy (even if you aren’t writing a dystopian thriller!). Honestly, if you can’t pitch your book in 2-3 sentences, you don’t know well enough what you are writing. Continue reading

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Finding an Agent: What No One Wants to Talk About by Arna Bontemps Hemenway

Posted by July 11th, 2014

As a writer and professor of Creative Writing, what I get asked about most is finding an agent. I struggle to answer for a couple of reasons: namely, that there are only two things of worth I have to say on the matter of finding an agent, and because both of them are pretty awkward to say out loud.

Arna Hemenway 2

Arna Bontemps Hemenway poses with his book ELEGY ON KINDERKLAVIER, which comes out from Sarabande Books on Tuesday, July 15th.

Before I get to those two pieces of wisdom, let me start by reiterating what you’ve probably already heard about finding an agent: You should take the time and effort to make your query effective and professional. You shouldn’t sign with an agent you’re afraid of (as the novelist Ethan Canin once memorably put it to me, “you shouldn’t need an agent to call your agent”) or one you can’t talk to or one who seems like they won’t answer your calls if you’re not successful. You want somebody who’s smart and effective enough to make good business decisions for you, but also somebody who seems like a basically good person. Pay attention to your gut. Be ready to get rejected over and over and over and over and over again.

Now we’ve got that good advice out of the way, here’s the first thing no one particularly wants to say or hear about finding an agent: agents are not important. Let me repeat that: the literary agent is not important. No offense. Continue reading

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Ask an Agent: Lucy Carson Answers Your Questions!

Posted by July 8th, 2014

Lucy Carson Ask an Agent

Credit: Jacobia Dahm

Welcome to Part I of Book Country’s “Ask an Agent” blog series! Literary agent Lucy Carson of The Friedrich Agency answered some of your questions that were posted on our discussion board and on Twitter. We hope you find her answers just as insightful as we did! Feel free to post any questions you would like to ask an agent on our discussion board, Book Country “Ask an Agent” Blog Series

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1. I have read that agents are far too busy to pick through the offerings on these sites (Book Country), yet several people here have announced that an agent contacted them after reading them on here. Which situation is closer to reality? – Mimi Speike

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Submit Your Questions for Our ‘Ask an Agent’ Blog Series!

Posted by July 1st, 2014

 

Ask an Agent Book Country

This July, Book Country will host a blog series called “Ask an Agent.” All throughout the month, you can post any question you want to ask to an agent in our discussion boards, and agents will answer those questions in future blog posts!

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Member Spotlight: Meet Middle Grade Writer Sherrie Petersen

Posted by June 17th, 2014

Member Spotlight: Sherrie PetersenToday we are talking to Book Country member Sherrie Petersen, whose book WISH YOU WEREN’T is a June Editor’s Pick. Connect with Sherrie on Book Country, and read on to find out more about her experience with beta readers, designing her own cover, and why she loves writing for middle graders. 

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Lucy Silag: Congrats on publishing your first book, WISH YOU WEREN’T. Tell us the story of how the book came to be, and how you brought it into the world.

Sherrie Petersen: I wrote the first page of this story several years back after watching stars with my kids one night. It was right before a writer’s conference where I had the chance to get feedback from an agent, an editor and an author. (Someone else read the page out loud, thankfully!) All three of them loved the voice, the setting, the mood that page evoked – they wanted to read more. That totally encouraged me to keep going. And despite many rewrites, the first page has stayed essentially the same. Continue reading

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Dan Croutch’s Tips for Querying Agents

Posted by June 16th, 2014

tips for querying agents smallerI came up with these tips for querying agents when I started querying my book THE KINGS OF CARNIN: RISE OF ARI to agents about eight months ago.

First, I created a list of agents based on some online resources and the suggestions of published folks. Each agent was ranked based on their success with clients.

I chose to send off a batch of snail mail queries first. My first rejection was exciting; a badge of honor.  Now that I had it I felt I was truly well on my way to publishdom. The second was less exciting and the fourth was just plain discouraging. Querying agents is a really emotional process, one where every letter or email sent faces an astonishing battle of the odds.

One of my queries, the third to this agent I’ll admit, resulted in a “partial.” This is where the agent wants to see the first chunk of the manuscript. Huzzah, finally people can see my work! That’s what I had been saying all along – “if only they could read this.”  That rejection was particularly sobering and quite a setback. Thankfully, some feedback from Book Country members came in shortly thereafter and restarted the passion for my work. Now I can hardly wait for an agent to request my first “full” – the whole manuscript – and maybe even representation! Continue reading

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Meet Literary Agent Lucy Childs Baker

Posted by January 15th, 2014

Lucy Childs BakerFull disclosure: Literary agent Lucy Childs Baker and I don’t just share the same first name. We also share . . . a family! Lucy, an agent at the Aaron M. Priest Agency, is my cousin. She’s actually the person for whom I was named! Since I started working in publishing, I’ve relied on her analysis, her advice, and her good taste in books. Lucy is looking for new writers to represent in several literary categories workshopped here on Book Country. Read on to find out more about Lucy’s literary tastes and how to query her with your manuscript.

LS: Tell us how you got into the business of agenting.

LC: I was an actress in a previous life (for 25 years).  I wanted to change careers for a variety of reasons and my cousin suggested agenting since I’ve always been a voracious reader with eclectic taste.  I had to start somewhere, so I began managing the office at the Aaron Priest Agency.  After learning everything I could about publishing – a completely different world from the theater! – I became an agent after four years.

LS: What kind of books do you really connect with as a reader?

LC: Mostly literary fiction, and although it’s a cliché, really anything that’s well written with a juicy story.  Just finished THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt which I loved. Ruth Ozeki’s novel, A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING is also a recent favorite.

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An Epic Morning at Starbucks: Author Phillip Margulies’s Agent Story

Posted by January 14th, 2014

phillip Margulies 1Every traditionally published author has a story about how they found their literary agent. My favorites of these are always the more serendipitous ones, the ones that show not just a writer’s tenacity in their search, but also have a cinematic quality to them–a bit of a “meet-cute.” Below, Historical Fiction author Phillip Margulies, whose debut novel BELLE CORA came out from Doubleday last week, tells us how he met his agent, Dorian Karchmar of William Morris, at his local Starbucks. It wasn’t just good timing, however–read on to see how Phillip impressed Dorian even before she read his work, and how that fateful meeting helped him to realize one of his longest-held dreams.

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For unpublished writers the true tale I’m about to relate qualifies as a story of survival.  Whether it is an inspiration or a warning, I’m not sure.

I have been writing fiction since the age of 11;  that is, since 1963, half a century ago. Empires fell, presidential administrations went by in a blur, the quill in my hand became a typewriter and then a laptop, while I sat there in my Time Machine writing.  I had no other ambition, no other serious employment.  By 2005, when I began BELLE CORA, I had written eight previous novels and numerous short stories and poems, all unpublished; also some unproduced plays.  Editors praised my work.  They wished me luck “finding the right publisher.”

My wife, Maxine Rosaler, has a writer friend who is regularly published—they’re from the same town and have stayed friends despite their highly divergent destinies. The friend’s husband had recently asked my wife: “Why does Phil bother?” Like, Phil’s in his fifties, can’t he take a hint?  Earlier, when I was merely in my forties, another friend had told her: “At this stage of his life he’ll never get published.” My wife decided not to pass on either of these remarks, which is unusual for her, but sometimes in a fight when I accused her of saying everything she could say to hurt me, she’d say, “No, I don’t.  There are things I could say that I don’t say.”  Which was, wow, really infuriating. Continue reading

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