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How To Format a Query Letter & Why You Need to Read Nathan Bransford’s Blog

How To Format a Query Letter & Why You Need to Read Nathan Bransford’s Blog

Good morning all. Hope that your week is going swimmingly and now it’s Wednesday, you’re half way through. Hoorah!

I’m going to assume that you have heard of the awesome Nathan Bransford. If you have, then no more introduction is needed. If somehow you haven’t, then… you’ll thank me later ūüôā

 

If you are querying, or plan to in the near future, go over and bookmark Nathan’s blog and then black out a weekend or so to read all of his wonderful advice on querying. As an ex-agent turned author, the man offers us insight into that place no one can understand.

 

The mind of an agent (it’s a scary place!!)…

 

 

AND what they are looking for, and what they’ll pass without further ado, in a query. It’s like a goldmine over there. The blog has been a wee bit quiet of late, but that’s okay ‘cos it will give you tons of time to wade through the archives and play catch up!

 

Here are the posts I suggest you start with.

Why You are Receiving Rejections

The Importance of a Pitch (video)

* How to Format a Query Letter * READ THIS!

Make Our Lives (Agents) Easier

Things I Don’t Need to Know in a Query

 

And… If you are not close to querying yet, Nathan is an author too and offers a ton of writing advice.

 

Check out his general post on How to Write a Novel & the Writing Advice Database.

 

Phew. That should keep you a bit busy.

 

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Ask an Agent! Part 3: Do I have to find an illustrator to collaborate with me first? & how many words are ideal for a first-time author to get published?

Ask an Agent! Part 3: Do I have to find an illustrator to collaborate with me first? & how many words are ideal for a first-time author to get published?

Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd, answers member’s questions on the query process and agent representation.

(Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

5. I have a great idea for a¬†children’s book (who doesn’t?). I’ve written a draft of the text, but the¬†pictures need to do¬†much of the talking. ¬†How do I pitch it? Do I¬†have to find an illustrator to collaborate with me first?
 
You’re right. It seems as though people are more¬†likely to envision themselves writing children’s books than books for¬†adults.¬†Why do you think that is?¬†
 
I don’t represent children’s picture books,¬†because I don’t know enough about the market for them. You should rely on¬†children’s book agents for advice about children’s books. Jennifer Laughran,¬†who blogs at Jennifer Represents‚Ķ, is one of the best in the business. Earlier¬†this¬†year, she answered your second question in a Q&A¬†with David Henry Sterry on the Huffington Post.¬†

¬†If a literary agency is accepting new clients,¬†then the agency will provide specific submission guidelines. You’ll find the¬†guidelines for Jenn Laughran and her colleagues at the Andrea Brown¬†Literary Agency on their agency’s website.

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Ask An Agent! Part 2: How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a manuscript? & What does an agent look for in an author besides good writing?

Ask An Agent! Part 2: How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a manuscript? & What does an agent look for in an author besides good writing?

 

 

Agent Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd answers members’ question about the querying process. See part 1 here and stay tuned for part 3 next Monday!

3. How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a manuscript?
 
There are as many answers to your question as there are manuscripts being offered. Maybe the only accurate answer is until the agency’s costs would be greater than any potential benefits. 
 
To some folks, “rounds of¬†submission” can be mystifying jargon. It’s easier to understand that it¬†could take a year¬†or more to find a publisher for a debut novel. If a¬†lucky break happens sooner, then there’s reason to be giddy.
 
If publication rights aren’t acquired by a major¬†or midsize publisher, then an agent certainly could go on to offer a¬†manuscript¬†to small publishers. However, the agent’s commission on a deal with a small¬†publisher isn’t likely to come¬†close to adequate compensation. For example, if¬†the agent copyedited the manuscript before submitting it to editors,¬†the hidden¬†value of the editing alone would be $1,500 or more. In 2011, you don’t see too¬†many small publishers in¬†the US offering $10,000 advances. Keep in mind that¬†this example doesn’t take into consideration the many hours an¬†agent invests in¬†giving advice to the client, pitching the manuscript to editors, negotiating¬†the deal, serving as a¬†mediator, explaining tax laws, collecting late royalty¬†payments, and bookkeeping.

(more…)

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Ask an Agent! Part 1: If I have already self-published my book on the Kindle, can I still seek literary representation?

Ask an Agent! Part 1: If I have already self-published my book on the Kindle, can I still seek literary representation?

 

Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd, answers member’s questions on the query process and agent representation. (Robin also guest posted on the blog a few weeks back with a fantastic post; 25 Steps to Getting and Working with a Literary Agent. Be sure to check that out too!)

Part 1 answers 2 questions, stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 where we’ll have more wise words from Robin!

“Thanks for these good questions. I hope everyone at Ladies Who Critique.com works¬†hard to maintain the supportive and welcoming attitude that¬†seems to prevail in¬†your forum. Laura invited me to browse, and I soon learned that it wouldn’t¬†always be possible to¬†figure out members’ identities. When I see a writing¬†sample that interests me, I occasionally contact the writer via¬†email and ask¬†to see more, but I don’t make the request public. In other words, if I can’t¬†figure out your email¬†address, then I can’t invite you to show me your manuscript¬†when it’s finished. Don’t be shy; be discoverable!

 

 

 

1. If I have already self-published my book on the Kindle, can I still seek literary representation? Should I mention the fact?
 
In your query letter, it’s always best to make it¬†clear if the book you’re describing has been published–by you or any¬†other¬†publisher. If you don’t explain otherwise, then I’ll assume you’re querying in¬†regard to an unpublished¬†manuscript. Unless the book’s topic or you are¬†suddenly newsworthy or in demand, I’ll want to know the date of¬†publication and¬†how many copies of the book have been sold, so you might as well provide those¬†details up front. If¬†you’ve sold thousands of copies in less than a year, then¬†some agents might be intrigued by the numbers alone. I’d¬†need to like the¬†sample pages; numbers aren’t enough for me.
 
The query guidelines on my website include¬†a link to my¬†blogpost on this particular¬†topic, if you’d like more insight.¬†

Once¬†in a while, I receive a query from an author who has self-published and is¬†unhappy with the resulting sales. In most cases, a self-published author whose¬†book isn’t selling well should be¬†contacting a publicist rather than an¬†agent. Of course, some literary agencies do offer publicity and publishing¬†services, rather than specializing only in licensing publication rights, but I¬†wouldn’t say they’re prevalent as of late¬†2011.
 
2. As I have spent my life flitting¬†between the UK & the US, I want to query my contemporary fiction in these¬†two¬†countries. What is your advice for going about this? Would you as an¬†American agent accept a script in British English¬†or should I¬†“translate” it?
 
I don’t mind receiving manuscripts in British,¬†Canadian, and Australian English. I no longer consider it worthwhile to¬†convert¬†them, because I can’t accurately predict where I’ll find a publisher for a¬†manuscript.¬†
 
Two big advantages to working with a literary¬†agent in the country where you reside are 1) the agent’s familiarity with¬†the¬†market where you, the author, can do the most to help promote your book and 2)¬†a reduced need for foreign¬†currency exchange. However, you cannot completely¬†avoid the exchange fees if you want to take full advantage of foreign¬†rights licenses.¬†Occasionally, a writer’s work sells better overseas than at home.
 
There’s no single way of working with literary¬†agents, but it’s typical for a writer to have one primary agent who, in¬†turn,¬†has contracts with subagents (also referred to as subsidiary rights agents or¬†co-agents) to help license¬†translation rights in foreign countries. In¬†countries where English is commonly spoken, I handle rights licensing for my¬†authors, but that’s a personal preference. If a writer wishes to work directly¬†with agents in various countries, the¬†simplest strategy is to divide the titles¬†among the agents, so that each title has only one primary agent. I should¬†mention, however, that some of us prefer to represent a writer’s entire body of¬†work in a particular category, rather than just one title. An¬†agent invests a great deal of effort in¬†finding a publisher for a debut novel, as well as explaining the publishing¬†process to the author, who might be experiencing it for the first time.¬†It’s natural for the agent to hope that, if the first book is successful, the¬†author’s second novel will be¬†an easier and more profitable deal. An exception occurs when a writer produces, for example, scholarly works, commercial fiction, and children’s books and is represented by a different agent for each category.¬†

—————————————

Stay tuned for part 2 of Ask an Agent on January 2nd, where Robin will be answering 

3. How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a manuscript?  &

4. What you look for in an author besides good writing?

In the meantime, read more about Robin here!

 

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25 Steps to Getting and Working with a Literary Agent

25 Steps to Getting and Working with a Literary Agent

This is a guest post from Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd., Literary Representation about finding & working with a literary agent. The advice is invaluable – bookmark it and follow it step by step!

 


The basic strategy for getting published can be found in any number of books at the library and bookstores, as well as on dozens of writers’ and agents’ blogs. One of the best brief summaries of the process was written by Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management.

I’ll share my notes here for anyone who’s learning. I don’t represent children’s and middle grade authors, so these are simply general principles applicable to most writers of commercial fiction and nonfiction who want to work with an agent.

    1. Become part of a community of writers, perhaps an online networking group, and start getting your work published online or in magazines appropriate for the type of writing you do. Blogging and micro-blogging can be part of this process. Establish a solid, professional reputation‚ÄĒyour brand‚ÄĒfrom the beginning. Professionalism includes presenting your work to a critique group or critique partner for feedback and undertaking multiple revisions before you consider your manuscript polished enough to show to agents or editors.
    2. If you’re writing fiction or memoir, finish your manuscript first. If you’re writing any kind of nonfiction other than memoir, write a book proposal and include some sample chapters plus a table of contents. You might have sought grant funding, if you qualify, and conditions may include a deadline by which your book must be completed.
    3. Figure out what you’ve written. Categorize it. Be as specific as possible, but not at the risk of erring. Why? Your genre and subgenre are keyed to the word count favored by many big trade publishers. If the two don’t match, you’ll be forced constantly to explain why your manuscript is the exception to the rule.
    4. Find out what makes a good agent. Compile a list of your questions about agents, and start filling in the blanks with the information you discover online or in books on the subject during the next steps…
    5. Make a list of agents who represent the type of work you’ve written. You can do this by learning about the authors whose books are most like your manuscript and then trying to figure out who represents them, but those authors’ agents might not be open to queries. Instead, or in addition, try a keyword search by genre and other variables using a search engine or any of the free online literary agent databases, including:

QueryTracker
Agent Query
AuthorAdvance (formerly Litmatch)

Other lists can be found at:

Preditors & Editors
The Association of Authors’ Representatives
JacketFlap
Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog
Your library or bookstore, where you can find Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents; Guide to Literary Agents; and LiteraryMarketPlace (LMP)

And there are subscription databases, including:

Publishers Marketplace
Writer’s Market

6. Take the list of agents you’ve compiled. Conduct research online. At the very least, look up each agent’s website and locate the agency’s submission or query guidelines detailing:

What categories of manuscripts the agent is seeking
What you need to include in the query
How to submit the query: by mail, online form, or email
Whether the agency is currently open to queries

7. Make a record of which agents you’ve contacted, when you queried, what you sent, and what the answer was (if you received a reply). You can use an online submission tracking service or compile the information in a database on your computer or write it on index cards. Keep your records up to date. Some aspiring authors skip this step and wind up with egg on their faces.

8. Use your email application strategically. Don’t add each agent’s email address to your software’s address book. If you do, then in the future, every mass email announcement you send will go to all of the agents you’ve contacted. Don’t turn on your out-of-office alert. Don’t fire up your spam filter so that the agents you query are required to register and be given permission to respond to your query. Don’t send out 50 queries when your email program’s inbox caps the volume of incoming mail it will accept. Don’t send out 50 queries all at once, which leads to the next step…

9. Send only a handful of queries at a time, just in case a kind agent rejects you with helpful suggestions about what might be wrong with your query letter or points out an embarrassing typo.

10. Don’t blog about your rejections or publicize your strategy to use one agent to push another off the fence. Agents know how to find that stuff online. If you’ve published the sad story of your 99 previous rejections, most agents will think twice, even if they were initially inclined to like your manuscript.

11. Agents probably will reply to queries within six weeks if they’ve stated they’re actively seeking new clients. If you don’t receive a reply within six weeks, or within the time frame explicitly stated on the agent’s website, then send a politely worded email asking if your query made it to the agent’s inbox. If you don’t receive a reply to your follow-up email, chalk it up and move on.

12. If you’re really on the right track with your manuscript and you’re targeting the correct agents and writing professional queries, then, as novelist Marcus Sakey recently claimed, you’ll get a 75% positive response to your query. That means three out of four agents who receive your query will ask to see more of your manuscript. Of those three, one or two are then likely to offer representation. Agents know a good thing when they see it. (You’re right. This is not as simple as it sounds.)

13. Get on those three responses from the three agents as soon as they land in your inbox! Whip out your list of questions for each agent and see if there‚Äôs anything you need to know immediately. You can include any crucial questions with the requested partial or full manuscript‚ÄĒa meticulous, properly formatted manuscript, of course. But don‚Äôt start interrogating, because the odds are not yet in your favor. More manuscripts than you realize are still rejected at this stage‚ÄĒup to 90% or more.

14. Expect a busy agent to take three months to read your full manuscript and give you an answer regarding representation. It can take longer. If the manuscript is fabulous, you could receive an offer from an agent within days. Some manuscripts go into the black hole and the agent is never heard from again. It’s bad, it’s inexcusable, it’s unprofessional, but it happens. Inquire politely after sufficient time has passed. Then, move on.

15. On that exciting day when an agent calls or emails to offer representation, be ready to discuss your expectations. Typically, this conversation takes place by phone or in person, but email is OK too. Some writers would rather write. That‚Äôs OK. Whip out the questionnaire you compiled in Step 4 and make sure all of your questions are answered. If you‚Äôre polite about it, no question is out of line, except perhaps ‚ÄúWill you waive your commission?‚ÄĚ

16. Read author Jodi Meadows‚Äô superb advice about ‚ÄúDealing with multiple agent offers.‚ÄĚ

17. Read through the contract offered by the agent. Understand that it will most likely be an exclusive agreement, meaning you won’t be able to work with several agents simultaneously on the same rights to the same manuscript. That’s not to say that your agent won’t engage subagents to negotiate the licensing of dramatic rights or foreign rights. You might also choose to have multiple advisors: an agent, a manager, and an entertainment or intellectual property attorney. However, once you sign an exclusive agency agreement, your agent will be entitled to his or her commission even if you receive a direct offer from a publisher. If you anticipate this possibility, then you can try to negotiate a nonexclusive agency agreement, but be sure you understand the agent’s point of view first or you might give offense.

18. Make sure you understand every word of the agency agreement before you sign it.

19. Be prepared and willing to undertake revisions requested by the agent before your manuscript or book proposal is presented to acquiring editors. This process should not be unbearable. If it is, then you and the agent are not well suited to collaborating.

20. Unless your manuscript is an incredibly hot property, each round of editors to whom it’s pitched can take hours, days, or months to request the full and then weeks or months to read it and, along with an editorial board, come to a decision about making an offer. Expect to be on pins and needles once again.

21. When a publisher makes an offer, your agent will advise you what is normal, standard, acceptable, desirable, etc., but the final decision is always yours. Don‚Äôt relinquish all decisions to the agent. You care more about your rights in the work than anyone else‚ÄĒat least you should. Know a little something about what to expect in a book publishing agreement and be prepared to give the agent your input.

22. Soon after the book contract is signed, you‚Äôll be asked for things like jacket copy, your author bio, your author photo, and maybe even input on the cover design and suggestions for the book‚Äôs website or webpage. Don‚Äôt say, ‚ÄúWell, let me think that over for a couple of weeks. I‚Äôll get back to you.‚ÄĚ Have those things ready in advance.

23. Your book contract will probably stipulate how much turnaround time you‚Äôll have to review and approve the publisher‚Äôs requested revisions‚ÄĒoccasionally as little as two weeks. Be ready to put everything else aside and work tirelessly when the proofs are sent to you.

24. If things go wrong or you become tense or upset with anyone at the publishing house, hold your tongue! Contact your agent. It’s your agent’s job to mediate when any problems occur. A simple explanation from your agent might clarify a misunderstanding that could have become an obstacle to the success of your book. Working through your agent allows the agent to take the flak while you maintain a harmonious relationship with everyone who’s hard at work ensuring your book is a huge triumph.

25. Many, if not most, literary agencies don’t have publicity departments. They know and can refer clients to excellent freelance publicists and publicity firms. You and your publisher (who may have an in-house publicist or a contract with a PR firm or both) will be responsible for generating excitement about your book. Your agent is likely to have some suggestions and a bit of advice (and might even have worked as a publicist at some point), but the job of a publicist is different than the job of an agent. The best publicists are worth their weight in gold, which is why they are typically compensated up front. Times change. The roles of publicists and agents are becoming more intertwined, just as distinctions between agents and publishers are beginning to blur. Roll with it. Agents are.

If you have a good relationship with your agent, all along the two of you will be discussing your career goals and brainstorming about your next writing project. It seems redundant to list these steps here, when so many others have already done a better job of explaining this process. Entire books are devoted to the topic, and I strongly suggest you start by reading one of those books. Oversimplification too often creates confusion instead of alleviating it.

Magical Words: author David B. Coe‚Äės series of posts on ‚ÄúWriting Your Book‚ÄĚ

Lee & Low Books: Editor’s Desk

Agent Mary Kole’s blog Kidlit.com

Note the date on this post, and remember that the book publishing business, like any other industry, evolves constantly. Always ensure the information on which you rely is current and valid. Be discriminating. Your writing career is at stake.

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HE SAID, SHE SAID: 10 Tips for Writing Good Dialogue | By Barbara DeSantis

HE SAID, SHE SAID: 10 Tips for Writing Good Dialogue | By Barbara DeSantis

As an editor, I receive a lot of fiction manuscripts from novice writers and inevitably I see the same mistakes repeated on the page.¬† Poorly written dialogue is a common problem, and one that will get your manuscript a ‚Äúthumbs down‚ÄĚ from an agent, or if you‚Äôre planning on self-publishing, a no-sale from a potential customer and reader. ¬†

Image Courtesy

 

Readers may not know what makes good dialogue but they sure can tell when it’s bad. They lose interest, or worse, they stop reading.

No doubt about it, good dialogue is tough to write.  It just looks easy, that is, when it’s written well.  Some writers have a natural ear for it, and instinctively know when the sound and rhythm are right. Others have to work at it.  

Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing dialogue. (more…)

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Ask an Agent Part 3: 5. I have a great idea for a children’s book… | 6. How many words are ideal for a first-time author to get published?

Ask an Agent Part 3: 5. I have a great idea for a children’s book… | 6. How many words are ideal for a first-time author to get published?

Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd, answers member’s questions on the query process. You can find part one of ‘Ask An Agent’ here, and part two here.

5. I have a great idea for a¬†children’s book (who doesn’t?). I’ve written a draft of the text, but the¬†pictures need to do¬†much of the talking. ¬†How do I pitch it? Do I¬†have to find an illustrator to collaborate with me first?
 
You’re right. It seems as though people are more¬†likely to envision themselves writing children’s books than books for¬†adults.¬†Why do you think that is?¬†
 
I don’t represent children’s picture books,¬†because I don’t know enough about the market for them. You should rely on¬†children’s book agents for advice about children’s books. Jennifer Laughran,¬†who blogs at JenniferRepresents‚Ķ, is one of the best in the business. Earlier¬†this¬†year, she answered your second question in a Q&A¬†with David Henry Sterry on the Huffington Post.¬†

 
If a literary agency is accepting new clients,¬†then the agency will provide specific submission guidelines. You’ll find the¬†guidelines for Jenn Laughran and her colleagues at the Andrea Brown¬†Literary Agency on their agency’s website.
 
6. I’ve been working on writing a romance novel to be published and my question is how many words are ideal for a first-time author to get published? Is there a min/max that agents look for? Require?
 
Romance and erotica with word counts of less than¬†40,000, priced accordingly, are being sold by ebook-only and¬†ebook-first publishers. Independent publishers were first to try this strategy,¬†and now some of the big publishing¬†conglomerates have begun to experiment. Word¬†counts will become more variable as ebook sales increase, but it will¬†take book¬†buyers and most trade book publishers some time to adjust their expectations.¬†For the moment, it’s not a¬†bad idea to stay with what’s been successful for the¬†past couple of years, especially if you’re hoping that your novel¬†will appear¬†in print and ebook formats.¬†
 
Publishers of category romance usually have strict guidelines in place for word counts, settings, characters, the depiction of sexuality, and other aspects of these familiar series. You might be able to find the precise specifications on their websites.
 
Devoted readers of romance subgenres, such as Regency romance novels, are discerning consumers. If you intend to cater to readers, then take a look at the page counts of the current bestsellers in your subgenre to find out where to aim. The typical word counts of romance subgenres differ a bit.
 
I can’t say I’d be delighted to see a 70,000-word¬†novel manuscript, because I would expect the word count to¬†decrease after¬†editing. I’m happy to see a manuscript between 80,000 and 110,000 words in¬†length. I worry about¬†what subgenre it falls in and roughly how many pages it¬†should consist of after I figure out if it’s any good.
 
You asked if I could specify the word count for a¬†first-time romance author’s manuscript. In theory, your first¬†publication could¬†be a 90,000-word hardcover romance novel. But it’s typical to acquire skill by¬†having shorter works¬†published in reputable online publications and literary¬†magazines, in anthologies, or as ebooks. Maybe you’ve already¬†had some stories¬†published. If so, then mention them in your query letter, because impressive¬†publication credits¬†indicate to me just how serious you are about building a¬†career as a creative writer. Without the experience of getting¬†short pieces of¬†fiction published, you’ll find it difficult to envision the competition. It’s¬†better to know what you’re up¬†against.
 
Robin Mizell Ltd., is located in Athens, Ohio, USA. She represents literary and commercial adult fiction, and occasionally nonfiction. Find out more about Robin on her about page, here!

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Ask an Agent Part Two | 3. How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a MS? | 4. What do you look for in an author besides good writing?

Ask an Agent Part Two | 3. How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a MS? | 4. What do you look for in an author besides good writing?

Robin Mizell of Robin Mizell Ltd, answers member’s questions on the query process. You can find part one of ‘Ask An Agent’ here. Part 3 will follow on January 9th. Find out more about Robin on her about page, here!

3. How many rounds of submission does an agent go through before giving up on a manuscript?
 
There are as many answers to your question as there are manuscripts being offered. Maybe the only accurate answer is until the agency’s costs would be greater than any potential benefits. 
 
To some folks, “rounds of¬†submission” can be mystifying jargon. It’s easier to understand that it¬†could take a year¬†or more to find a publisher for a debut novel. If a¬†lucky break happens sooner, then there’s reason to be giddy.
 
If publication rights aren’t acquired by a major¬†or midsize publisher, then an agent certainly could go on to offer a¬†manuscript¬†to small publishers. However, the agent’s commission on a deal with a small¬†publisher isn’t likely to come¬†close to adequate compensation. For example, if¬†the agent copyedited the manuscript before submitting it to editors,¬†the hidden¬†value of the editing alone would be $1,500 or more. In 2011, you don’t see too¬†many small publishers in¬†the US offering $10,000 advances. Keep in mind that¬†this example doesn’t take into consideration the many hours an¬†agent invests in¬†giving advice to the client, pitching the manuscript to editors, negotiating¬†the deal, serving as a¬†mediator, explaining tax laws, collecting late royalty¬†payments, and bookkeeping.
 
Literary agents are businesspeople with¬†justifiable concerns about cash flow, but most of us, in fact, are softhearted¬†fans of our clients. There are times when we go far beyond what’s practical and¬†cost effective to find fantastic¬†publishers for books we love. However, it’s¬†wrong for writers to develop a habit of expecting those kinds of sacrifices¬†from their agents.
 
I’m naturally skeptical, so I never wanted to¬†operate on someone else’s assumptions about the book publishing¬†industry, even¬†if the person was brilliant and the assumptions were well founded. For¬†self-serving reasons, I decided¬†not to give up on any of my first clients’¬†manuscripts. By imposing a sort of impossible standard, I knew I’d learn a¬†lot,¬†including why I should discipline myself to sign only the most commercial¬†prospects. I did learn how much work¬†different types of books require, how long¬†the process can take, and what I needed to streamline. On the other hand, I’ve been pleasantly¬†surprised by the interest larger publishers have taken in acquiring subsidiary¬†rights in titles from smaller publishers.¬†I’m also working with extraordinarily¬†intelligent and gracious clients who inspire my devotion.¬†
 
4. Hi Robin, I’m wondering what you¬†look for in an author besides good writing?
 
Hi! Thanks for asking about my unique approach.¬†You probably can tell from my answers to the other questions that¬†it’s¬†impossible to speak for all literary agents.
 
I prefer to work with writers whose manuscripts¬†show a deep understanding of human nature. I see a lot of good¬†writing that¬†amounts to observation without comprehension, and that doesn’t interest me.
 
I need to work with writers who are technologically adept. Most communication with publishers is digital these days, and book promotion is headed in the same direction.
 
I happen to be working with writers who had one¬†or more books published before they contacted me. I didn’t¬†consciously select¬†them for that reason, but I imagine they came across as knowledgeable and¬†didn’t express bizarre,¬†unrealistic expectations, so they were people I wanted¬†as clients. Without exception, the authors I represent meet¬†their deadlines,¬†which is impressive. I have no clients from hell. Life is too short. My¬†reputation among acquiring¬†editors, not to mention my sanity, depends on my¬†ability to screen out any prospective clients who might be difficult,¬†dishonest, or uncooperative, no matter how talented. Wow, am I making my¬†authors sound like the Stepford Clients?¬†

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Ask An Agent, where Robin will be answering:

I have a great idea for a¬†children’s book (who doesn’t?). I’ve written a draft of the text, but the¬†pictures need to do¬†much of the talking. ¬†How do I pitch it? Do I¬†have to find an illustrator to collaborate with me first?

&

I’ve been working on writing a romance novel to be published and my question is how many words are ideal for a first-time author to get published? Is there a min/max that agents look for? Require?

——————————–

Robin Mizell Ltd., is located in Athens, Ohio, USA. She represents literary and commercial adult fiction, and occasionally nonfiction.

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