Literary agents are incredibly active and forthcoming on Twitter, sharing advice about querying, breaking into the publishing industry, and building an online author platform.
Follow agents on Twitter to learn what genres agents are searching for and what agents look for in a great manuscript. Some agents even share critiques of manuscripts on Twitter, giving you a first-hand look of how they determine which manuscripts to accept or reject.
We are so happy to have Carly Watters on the Book Country blog! Carly is a VP and senior literary agent with the P.S. Literary Agency. Her bestselling and debut authors include Rebecca Phillips, Danny Appleby, and Book Country member Andrea Dunlop. Carly frequently shares informative insights about the publishing industry on her blog and on Twitter. Below, Carly offers advice on how to get your name and book out there, what to do if you’ve already self-published a book and are seeking representation, and the state of erotica in today’s market.
Do you participate in social media pitch campaigns like #PitMad on Twitter? If so, what can you share from your experience for those of us who might be thinking about participating in the future? – Kelley
I used to do more than I do now. I love working with debuts, and I’m always open to queries. However, I had one experience that made me step back from #PitMad and other online contests. Here’s the example: I favorited a tweet of a pitch I liked, and the author and I started to chat. When I offered representation on the phone a week later, the author said they’ve been interested in another agent for awhile now and used my offer as leverage to let her top agent know. I’m all for savvy business-minded people, but that made me reevaluate why I would spend my time searching out authors–and taking many days out of my year with these contests–when I have so many amazing queries in my inbox.
Literary agents help writers in every step of the publishing process, including contract negotiations, marketing, and cover design. The writer-agent relationship is incredibly important when going the traditional publishing route. We hope our Ask an Agent blog series helps shed light on what you should look for in an agent and what to expect come publishing time!
Welcome to Part III of Book Country’s Ask an Editor blog series. Alexandra Cardia, Assistant Editor at Riverhead Books, talks about the most rewarding thing about being an editor and deciding whether to work with a particular manuscript. Read Part I and Part II of Ask an Editor.
1. Generally how far do you read into a submitted book before deciding it’s trash or good enough to work with? – BoJo Johnson
It really depends on the project. Nonfiction projects are generally submitted as a proposal, and I read proposals front to back; you need to, I think, to get a full picture of the work. For fiction, how far I read into a work is generally dependent on two things: First, if I connect to the writing. If I don’t, I’ll know that pretty quickly and know that the work is probably a pass for me. Second, if I like the writing, I’ll read for story. This can take anywhere from a couple dozen pages to the entire manuscript. Sometimes I’ll read an entire manuscript and only then know that it’s not the right fit for me. So it really does depend on the work! Continue reading →
Welcome to Part II of Book Country’s Ask an Editor series! Melissa Danaczko is an Editor at Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Today, she talks about how to improve dialogue in writing, how marketability plays a role in selecting books for publication, and how editors deal with personal bias. Read Part I of Ask an Editor.
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.
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 →
Welcome 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.”
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 →
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.
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 →
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.
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
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!