Sunday, January 15, 2017


When I correspond with writers, and speak at conferences, one of the most common laments I hear is this:

“I pitched my book to 400 agents, and no one wants it!”

Yes, 400; that seems to be the magic number where many writers give up. They get frustrated, angry, resentful toward those rotten agents who wouldn’t give them a chance. As an author myself, I feel their pain. Yeah I know it sounds trite, but I’ve been there. Now that I’ve worked as an agent for a few years, I can view the situation from a different perspective.

Here's the part you don’t want to hear: You probably set yourself up to fail.

Let me explain.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Recently, on a respected publishing blog, a reader asked, “Is it permissible to query an agent by phone?” The expert answered no. I couldn’t agree more, and I am confident that you will get that same answer from most agents and editors.

The expert went on to give a long and convoluted reason for that policy, and I agree with most of it. But in my view, he severely overthunk it. I have a better reason:

Because I said so, and that should be enough. 

Here’s the thing: every agent has a process for evaluating submissions. Some want a one-page query, period. Some want a query and sample chapters. Some want a proposal and sample chapters. Still others are content to start with a Tweet. Some want a package by postal mail, others email. Attachments, or no atttachments? Whatever the case, this is how we roll. Almost every agency has a website with instructions on how to submit your work. If you want to catch our attention and maximize your chances, the best thing you can do is to follow instructions.