Monday, January 11, 2016


As a literary agent, I receive hundreds of submissions each month. From among this number, I might sign one or two new clients. Sometimes none. Generally, this is not because I can’t handle the added workload; if a story shows promise, I will find a way. Rather, far more often than not, I just don’t catch a vision for the stories before me.

Generally, I promise to render a verdict on each project within 30 days. This is because, as a writer, I know well the angst of waiting and waiting for an answer that might never come. I take no pleasure in giving bad news, but I often find that the writers set themselves up to fail. And it’s not my job to rescue them.
Some people try to flatter me into accepting their work. Others (apparently) observed a few spiritual titles in my portfolio, so they bombard me in Jesus-speak. But I'm not here to be your BFF, and you didn’t come here to join my church; I still need to make a business decision.

These two things didn’t surprise me, seeing as they follow human nature. But one thing I didn’t expect:

About a fifth of my submissions come from authors who want me to find them a traditional deal for their self-published books. Some of them boast of a dozen self-pub titles in print, or more. At least once a month, I get a stack of printed books in the mail. Should I be impressed? 

Frankly, anyone can self-pub a book, or a dozen, or a hundred. This is simply not an accomplishment. You want to impress an agent or a publisher?

Tell me about your platform. How well does it reach your target audience?

Tell me your marketing plan. How can I impress a publisher on your behalf?

Tell me about your reviews. If any were in a major publication, it might be worthwhile to mention.

Tell me how many you’ve sold. If it’s a thousand or more, I might get interested.

If I ask for a query, then send me a query with the relevant information I need, If I ask for a manuscript, then send me that and nothing more. Make it easy for me to say yes, and I might  surprise you. But before you boast, make sure it's something truly boastworthy.

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