Tag: literary agent

literary agent

To Query or Not To Query: Alternative Ways to Find an Agent

 Once upon a time, if a writer wanted to find an agent, they’d have to send a query letter—in the mail at that! Although querying is still by far the most popular way to get a mentor, I’m happy to say that it’s not the only way. Now, to the joy of everyone—except maybe the Post Office—you can also find your agent through online mentoring programs and even Twitter! In fact, New York Times Bestselling authors like Angie Thomas and Tomi Adeyami both got their agents through these untraditional methods. Angie pitched her agent on Twitter and Tomi was a 2016 mentee in a mentoring program called Pitch Wars. Here’s a list of several fun alternatives to finding your agent through querying, including a couple I’m thrilled to say I help organize. Pitch Wars What is it? An annual program that pairs more established writers—aka mentors—with mentees, aka those emerging writers still looking for an agent. If selected, the mentors and mentees spend months polishing the mentee’s manuscript for the Agent Showcase—where, after reading a pitch and first 250 words, agents comment requesting more pages I was a 2014 Pitch Wars mentee and got my agent, Michelle Richter from Fuse, from the contest. In addition, my Pitch Wars novel was actually Hollywood Homicide (though under a different name), which was released last year by Midnight Ink. I believe in Pitch Wars so much that I’m Managing Director this year.  When is it? Our Mentor Blog Hop, where mentors share exactly what type of books they’re looking to mentor is going on now. Our submission window runs from August 27, 2018 through August 29, 2018 at 10 PM EDT. Where can you find more info? PitchWars.org or visit the #pitchwars hashtag on Twitter.    #PitMad What is it? #PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. Agents and editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch. It’s run by the same committee that puts on Pitch Wars. When is it? Our next #PitMad is September 6, 2018 from 8 AM – 8 PM EDT Where can you find more info? http://pitchwars.org/pitmad/ #DVPit What is it? A two-day Twitter pitch even for marginalized authors and illustrators. Like with #Pitmad, agents and editors can like/favorite pitches they want to see in their inbox. It’s hosted by super-agent Beth Phelan. When is it? You’ll have to check the site to find out the dates of the next event. Where can you find more info? http://dvpit.com/ Nightmare on Query Street What is it? As the name suggests, it’s a Halloween themed contest run by Michelle Hauck, Michael Anthony, and usually another agented/published writer. Mentors help unagented writers revise their query letter and first 250 words of their manuscript for agents to requests. Sticking with the theme, contestants must answer a Halloween-themed question in their submission. When is it? October! Obviously! Where can I find more info? Visit the website: https://michellehauckwrites.com/contests/nightmare-on-query-street/ or check #NoQS on Twitter Query Kombat What is it? Another amazing contest from Michelle Hauck, Michael Anthony, and company. It’s such an interesting concept that I’ll just paste from the site: “Query Kombat is a bracket style competition where 64 query letters and first pages are matched against each other until only one is left. There are six rounds of competition that last the entire month of June and our expert judges leave notes and determine the winners. Agents request from the entries between the 1st and 2nd round, but there’s a catch. No agent requests are revealed until an entry is knocked out of the competition. Entries are known by their fun nicknames. Surviving entries are allowed to revise twice over the six rounds.” When is it? They just wrapped their 2018 contest. Submissions will probably open around May of next year. Where can you find more info? You can find more info on Michelle’s site here: https://michellehauckwrites.com/contests/query-kombat/ #AdPit What is it? Much like #PitMad and #DVpit, #AdPit is a Twitter pitch event—except it’s just for Adult and New Adult manuscripts. When is it? You’ll have to check the site but the most recent #AdPit was in April.  Where can I find more info?You can find more details on Heidi Nerrod’s blog here: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/adpit/  Kellye Garrett writes the Detective by Day mysteries about a semi-famous, mega-broke black actress who takes on the deadliest role of her life: Homicide Detective.  The first, Hollywood Homicide, won the Agatha, Lefty and Independent Publisher “IPPY” awards for best first novel and is nominated for Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards. The second, Hollywood Ending, released on August 8, 2018 from Midnight Ink. Prior to writing novels, Kellye spent eight years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for Cold Case. She now works for a leading media company and serves on the Board of Directors for Sisters in Crime as the organization’s Publicity Liaison.  You can learn more at KellyeGarrett.com and ChicksontheCase.com.        

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Better Left Unsaid

I follow several writers, some published, some unpublished, on social media. Many post news of book deals, tweet about signing with agents, and ‘gram photos of awards. Friends and followers like, “heart”, and share the good news over social networks. Some writers also share their disappointments. A series is canceled, a manuscript doesn’t sell, an agent query is rejected. Friends and followers virtually gather ‘round to show support, offer encouragement, and share advice. Fortunately, most writers limit themselves to these common uses of social media. However, a few writers take up their smartphones, not to seek congratulations or commiseration, but to excoriate those they blame for, in their view, thwarting their literary ambitions. You’ve read their posts: the “stupid” publishers don’t understand them, the “opportunistic” agents pass up the Great American Novel because it’s not marketable, the “idiot” editors insist grammar matters, the readers who leave negative reviews are—you fill in the epithet. These writers do not take rejection well. As they see it, their manuscript is perfect; everyone else is wrong. The “story” is the only thing that matters (they sneer at punctuation and spelling) and anyone who doesn’t agree their novel is brilliant enough to warrant the expenditure of 300,000 words is a “moron”. Or worse. Advice, or anything other than wholehearted endorsement of their vitriolic screeds by friends and followers is treated to the same burn as the offending agent (or editor or publisher) and to the ultimate social media act of retribution—a block. Please don’t be that writer. Nobody enjoys rejection. No one expects anyone to be happy about rejection. But letting the whole world (and posting to social media is akin to letting the whole world know, regardless of your privacy settings) is not the way to handle it. Rant and rage if you must but do it in the privacy of your home or car or broom closet. Make sure no one but the cat/dog/goldfish can hear you. They won’t talk; humans will. Pin the rejection letter to a cork board and throw darts at it. Stick any leftover pins in a voodoo doll with the agent’s name scrawled on it in blood. But don’t snap photos to post to Instagram. Keep your anger to yourself. Agents, editors, and publishers are on social media, too. They’re the original networkers. They networked before it was cool. You may not follow any of their accounts but at least one of your followers does. And publishing people follow each other. You know that caustic email you sent to agent X informing them how dense they must be not to recognize your genius? Well, agent X just tweeted a screenshot of your email to the Twitterverse, which includes agents A through W and Y and Z. You just been branded “difficult”. You’ve just been branded a lot of other things that aren’t repeatable in polite society. Think anyone’s going to represent you now? Nope. You think agents are morons; agents think you’re a toxic jerk. Editors and publishers agree with the agents. The same goes for your foaming at the mouth social media posts. A screenshot of a flame goes viral. Consider yourself quarantined. No one will come near you. They’d rather have measles. Are you really surprised people in the publishing business (business, not hobby, not charity) want a manuscript that’s marketable? As one writing instructor put it, agents live on commission and need to earn enough to pay rent in New York. Editors and publishers have to pay rent, too. And maybe at least one or two of them has a point. Maybe your novel really isn’t a good fit for them. Try someone else. Maybe your novel isn’t as perfect as you think. Even manuscripts that are sold need editing. Maybe no one appreciates your story because it’s harder to decipher than a teenager’s emoji-laden Instagram caption. Maybe you should listen when they say your 300,000 word thriller stopped being thrilling at 120K. Maybe you can look past your hurt and find the nugget of good advice buried in the “no”. If you can’t resist firebombing bridges and insist on refusing all advice? Self-publish. 

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The Big Five No-Nos to Querying A Literary Agent

Today, the MissDemeanors is welcoming literary agent Mark Gottlieb to give our readers some dos and dont’s when it comes to contacting agents. The man should know as he works with Trident Media Group literary agency, one of the biggest and best in the business. Here’s his post: As a literary agent in major trade publishing at the Trident Media Group literary agency, I receive hundreds of query letters a week. I find that there are so many things an author can do wrong in querying an agent with a submission letter, while there are very few things an author can do right in querying an agent with a submission letter, so it’s really hard to say every single thing an author should avoid in a query letter…  Though if I could throw just five glaring problems I tend to see: 1)   FINISH THAT MANUSCRIPT: Authors querying an agent before their fiction manuscript is finished/fully-written, or before their nonfiction book proposal is finished/fully-written, is certainly a pet peeve. It makes no sense querying an agent with unfinished work. 2)  DON’T AVOID THE LETTER: I would advise against writing query letters that state that the author does not want to write a query letter but has instead opted to merely attach a manuscript or synopsis to let the work speak for itself. Right away the literary agent will know that the author is going to be difficult to work with. The query letter is also essential so it really can’t be skipped. 3)   PERSONALIZE THE ADDRESS: It is very impersonal seeing a query letter email from an author addressed to dozens of agents at various literary agencies with a “Dear Agent” greeting. Smaller agencies on those lists might think to themselves that they might not be able to compete with the bigger agencies on that list, opting to bow out, while bigger agencies will think to themselves that they shouldn’t have to put up with that, also opting to bow out. So where would that really leave an author?  It’s better to do one’s research and approach the very best agency. 4)   READ THE INSTRUCTIONS: Reading and respecting a literary agency’s submission guidelines (usually listed on the agency’s website) is also a good way to get a foot in the door, whereas bucking the system will seldom get a good result. New authors call all the time, asking if they can query us over the phone, and I must always refer them back to our website since we prefer to receive query letters there as a matter of company policy. 5)  THINK OF BENDING THE RULES BEFORE BREAKING THEM: Knowing the rules before breaking them is also important, as going outside of genre-specific conventions and norms can be difficult for an author trying to make their major debut. For instance, a book written for elementary schoolchildren should not contain explicit language and content only appropriate for an adult audience. Knowing the proper book-length for the type of book written is also important, since publishers consider their cost of printing/production as well as shipping and warehousing, alongside how to price a shorter versus a longer book. Literary agent Mark Gottlieb currently works at Publishers Marketplace’s #1-ranked literary agency, Trident Media Group. Mark has ranked #1 among Literary Agents on publishersmarketplace.com in Overall Deals and other categories.  

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Writing: It’s A Team Sport

I mentioned people yesterday. Let’s talk more about that. We’ve all heard what a singular endeavor writing can be, shuttered away in a dark corner with just your imagination and your preferred implements for putting thoughts on paper. I bought into that image for a while. Then I asked a friend with an impressive list of non-fiction credits to her name for advice. What should I do once I had a completed manuscript that I thought was pretty good? “Test it out. Workshop it at writers’ conferences,” she said. That turned out to be darned good advice. Life-changing, in fact. Finding the right conferences introduced me to the difference between writing for myself and writing commercial fiction. Both are fine, of course. But the latter was my goal and there’s nothing lonely about it. Yes, it’s my butt in the chair creating characters and weaving their stories. However, I learned very quickly commercial writing is a team effort. Agents, editors, publishers, publicists, mentors, writing groups, and, the crown jewels: readers. At writers’ conferences, you get to meet and mingle with them all. Take a look at the photo in this post. I snapped it while attending a recent conference. It illustrates my point. Agents dance with writers they may or may not have previously known or represent. Aspiring authors chat with best sellers. My favorite part is the table in the foreground. An author pitches an editor over dessert. She’s a writer after my own heart. I know she got some great advice. This photo reveals the beauty of writers’ conferences. They’re what you make of them. Finding your tribe. Meeting your heroes. Being mentored by industry professionals. All opportunities of a lifetime. If you’re serious about writing for the commercial market, go. Period. This is the perfect time of year to start planning your conference schedule for 2017. Which ones are you most interested in attending?  

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Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Don’t know why, but I’ve had the song “Sympathy for the Devil” stuck in my head for days. Hence the title to this post. It seemed fitting because this is my first blog as a Miss Demeanor. So, hi. You may wondering why someone with a non-fiction credit is on a crime fiction blog. Well, in addition to my day job of fighting electronic crime, I write cyber crime thrillers. You just haven’t read them yet. I’m currently revising what I hope will be my debut novel. Soon it goes off to my development editor for a sanity check before I hand it over to my agent. Then I’ll concentrate on another work-in-progress, a YA cyber crime thriller. Writers write, and I’m no exception. It makes me happy and I seem to be pretty good at it. Speaking of agents, I joined the lovely and talented Paula Munier’s stable of clients at Talcott Notch in 2016. That’s one big hurdle down and an accomplishment I celebrated like I’d just made the NYT best seller list. Did I get a rockstar literary agent by luck? Or because I knew someone who knew someone? Nope. Passion got me started, hard work, dedication to the craft, and persistence got me this far. I do know people now, and continue to meet people, which is a fun part of the process. And their friendship and mentoring helped/helps a lot. Among these people are my fellow Miss Demeanors. I’m grateful to my new sisters in crime fiction for inviting me to the party. I look forward to doing you all proud. So what brings you here? Feel free to introduce yourself in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!  

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