Tag Archive | literary agents

Interview with Harlequin Presents author Michelle Smart.

Today, we are lucky enough to have Harlequin Presents author Michelle Smart on the blog. Thank you so much, Ms. Smart, for being here with us!


AN: How did you become a published author?

MS: I became a published author because I was lucky enough to write a book that an editor wanted to buy! That might sound like a facetious answer but it truly isn’t – in this industry there is an element of luck in that you have to get your book in front of an editor who is grabbed by your story and especially grabbed by your voice. I’ve always been a bookworm and always loved writing but it wasn’t until 2008, when my hubby and I went to Rome for our Wedding Anniversary that the romance bug truly bit me again and I decided it was time to do the one thing I’d promised myself since I was a teenager – to write my own Mills & Boon (what Harlequin books are published under in the UK)! My first two submissions were rejected at the partial stage, my third involved an R&R on my partial, which was also subsequently rejected, but then with my fourth submission I was invited to send in the full manuscript. It went through three rounds of revisions but was ultimately rejected. However, the editor I’d been working with had complete faith in me and invited me to write something new with her guidance (that’s what I mean about an author’s voice having to grab an editor – if she hadn’t seen something in my voice she enjoyed so much, she would never have gone out on a limb to help me craft a story right from its conception stage).  This book sold within a week of me sending the full in to her!

I can’t speak for any other publishing house but with Harlequin there is none of the ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ business. I didn’t attend a single conference or enter a single pitch contest before I was signed (although I did enter the Mills & Boon New Voices competition twice and got absolutely nowhere!). I got noticed through the slush pile. I love the slush pile!


AN: What was that like when you got “the call”? How long did you write before you became published?

MS: Even though I was working under an editor, The Call was the most enormous surprise of my life! I don’t think there can be a single author alive who, after submitting to Harlequin, hasn’t dreamt of The Call, myself included, but when mine came it took me completely by surprise. For a start, the book hadn’t undergone any revisions, plus it had only been on the editor’s desk for a week. However, my editor had been offered a new job working for Harlequin’s single titles, so sped-read mine and made the call on her last day working for the category lines. She called me at 5.15pm. I was lying on the sofa suffering from the flu (oh, woe is me!) and it was one of those crazy moments in your life where everything is etched in your memory but etched as a blur! It took me almost five years to get there but it was worth every minute of it. I now have the best job in the world J


AN: Can you tell us what a day for you is like, in terms of writing?

MS: I can only really write when the kids are at school so as soon as they’re gone, I’ll have a (very) quick tidy-up then sit on the sofa with the laptop on a cushion on my lap and get writing… Okay, I don’t exactly get writing immediately. There’s always a good hour of procrastination to be done first. I write until the kids come home and also often write in the evenings when they’re in bed. My only real habit (apart from hourly coffee) is that I need to listen to music when I write. As long as I have my earphones and some caffeine, I’m good to go.


AN: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for my readers hoping to publish a book? If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were just starting out, what would you say?

MS: My words of wisdom really only applies to people wanting to sub to Harlequin’s category lines – read as many of them as you can! I devoured every Presents/Modern that released (I still do) because that was and is my absolute favourite category line. Also, don’t think about it too much: some hopeful category writers approach writing a category as if there’s a checklist that needs to be ticked off (yes, I am raising my hand up as being guilty of that when I started!). But my main bit of advice is the old adage of ‘practice makes perfect.’ The more you write, the more it becomes like second nature. Consume the books and then, when you sit down and write, let your characters consume you.

If I could go back in time and talk to myself, I wouldn’t say anything. The route I took was the right route for me. The rejections didn’t knock me back – I knew that I was on a learning curve and getting closer and closer to my dream, so those rejections just made me more determined to get it right.


You can find out more about Michelle Smart here.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

You can follow her on Facebook here.

Her next Presents releases in May. You can pre-order it here.


Interview with literary agent Sara Megibow.

Today, we have literary agent Sara Megibow of KT Literary Agency on the blog. Thank you so much, Ms. Megibow, for being here with us!


AN: You’ve joined a new literary agency. Can you tell us a little bit about the objectives, goals, and/or aspirations you have at KT Literary?

SM: Thank you for inviting me here today – such a treat to share time with writers! *waves*

Yes, of course – I’d be happy to share some of my thoughts and goals and I’ll start it off with a big YES – I am currently open to submissions and actively acquiring! (more on that later) J

I have enjoyed working in publishing for almost 9 years – I love bookstores and authors, readers and editors, publishers and librarians. I love hunting for new talent and forming long-term relationships with authors and I especially love watching those authors earn loyal fans.

I had the best possible training at Nelson Literary Agency and will forever be grateful for the opportunity and experience gained with that team.

So, what’s next? I have two main goals for 2015 now that I’m at KT Literary Agency. The first (and most important) is to continue to grow the careers of my current clients. I represent New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors including Roni Loren, Jason Hough and Juliana Stone and it’s vitally important to me that these authors continue to succeed both artistically and commercially. 80-90% of my time each week is spent managing strategy for my current clients – that was true in 2014 and will continue to be true in 2015.

The second goal is to offer representation to new clients. In order to find new clients, I read query letters, sample pages and full manuscripts and then make “the call.”  I’ve read over 2,000 queries since January 1 and I’ve already signed four new clients, so this part seems to be going very well so far!

My agenting motto is “Art. Patience. Discipline.”

That’s a short and easy way to sum up my goals and objectives.



AN: What genres will your new agency rep? What are you specifically looking for right now?

SM: I represent:

middle grade like THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY by Jaleigh Johnson

young adult like  BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE by Miranda Kenneally

New Adult like ALL OF YOU by Christina Lee

romance like NOTHING BETWEEN US by Roni Loren

erotica like THE SIREN by Tiffany Reisz

science fiction like THE DARWIN ELEVATOR by Jason Hough

fantasy like RADIANT by Karina Sumner-Smith

I am looking for debut authors with a complete and not-previously-published manuscript. As long as the book is done and in a genre of work I represent, I read everything – it can be historical, paranormal, contemporary, steampunk – whatever. I read and love it all.



AN: Ms. Megibow, I see that you are looking for debut authors. Can you define “debut” for us?

SM: As for debut, I think what I’m trying to say is if someone is in the slush pile, a debut author with no bibliography at all – don’t be scared! You are exactly who I am looking for and yes, please send a query! Anyone is welcome to query – self published, previously, published, never published. But, my specialty/ my niche is in the debut author. So many times, an author might feel worried because it’s their first book and they have no track record. Well, worry no more – that’s perfect for me!


AN: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?

SM: Great question! In general, an author/agent relationship should feel like a warm business partnership.

What can an author expect after they sign with an agent? The most fundamental thing is that the agent should have a clear plan on how to make money on that author’s book(s). Not all books sell and not all book deals result in tons of money, but that goal is where the relationship starts. Above and beyond submissions, all agents are different and all authors are different so it’s hard to generalize. The author can likely expect some combination of these things: editorial guidance, answers to questions on publishing process and expectations, submissions strategy, advice on next books, publicity and cheerleading, contracts negotiation and subrights sales.

Personally, I try to answer my clients’ questions quickly (2-5 days for an email even if that’s to say “I’m swamped and will get back to you on this soon”). I also try to be proactive in communicating strategy and quick on my reading. But, I’m less of an editorial agent than some. Each relationship will be different but both author and agent should be able to say, “I’m glad you are part of my team.”


AN: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?

SM: My husband is a full-time beat-boxer in the vocal rock band Face (this actually won’t be too surprising to those of you who follow me on twitter as I share their videos sometimes). My philosophy on agenting comes from being married to a guy in a band. Music and books are similar– the hopes and disappointments, the unpredictability and heartbreak, the ups and downs, the passion and frustration. I try to communicate with my clients and keep them posted on the business side of their career so they can focus on writing great books. I know my work doesn’t negate all the nerves (nothing ever will), but I can honestly say that I understand the emotional arc of publishing from the writers’ perspective because I live it at home daily.


AN: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?

SM: Master your craft

Do your research

That’s two pieces of advice, sorry. J

Remember: “Art. Patience. Discipline.”


AN: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?

SM: Yes, I am open to submissions!

The submissions guidelines for KT Literary Agency are posted here:


A writer can submit a query to me if their book is 100% complete, not previously published and in a genre of work I represent.

To submit a query send a one page query letter and the first three pages of the manuscript to saraquery@ktliterary.com  A query letter should sound like the back cover of a novel and writers interested in reading successful queries can research at these sites:

Kate Testerman’s extensive “About My Query” blog posts:


Writers Digest Successful Queries:


Query Shark:


Evil Editor:


Happy writing everyone and Happy 2015 to all!

Twitter @SaraMegibow

Interview with literary agent Patricia Nelson.

Today, we are lucky enough to have literary agent Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency on the blog. Patricia Nelson is a literary agent with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She represents adult and YA fiction, and is actively building her list. For more about what she’s looking for, check out her agency page or her manuscript wish list, or follow her on twitter @patrician​els . Thank you, Ms. Nelson, for being here with us!


AN: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?

PN: The agent/author relationship is a unique, multi-faceted one. Your agent is your business partner, advisor, cheerleader, and champion. They’re in your corner and have the connections and knowledge to offer guidance, not just for one book but for building your career as an author long-term. This means it’s a relationship built on mutual trust from the start. Your agent will expect you to be professional and dedicated to your craft; you should be able to expect that your agent will be engaged with your work and available via email and/or phone. Throughout the process, they should keep you updated about next steps, and you should feel comfortable approaching them with questions.


AN: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?

PN: I would love to see more women’s fiction, adult romance (both contemporary and historical), magical realism (both YA and adult), and YA contemporary with a unique hook and beautiful, literary writing, Also, send me more diverse books, please! On the flip side, I tend to get a whole lot of dystopian, paranormal, and urban fantasy queries, especially for YA – these genres are currently quite tough sells, and so I’m not tending to request many of these kinds of stories right now.


AN: There’s a lot of talk about “high concept” fiction lately. Can you define it for us? Do you feel that it’s become more and more important for books to be high concept?

PN: “High concept” means that a book can be described effectively and compellingly in just a few words – you know exactly what you’re signing up for based on concept alone. The first example of this that comes to my mind is the book GREAT by Sara Benincasa, which I was seeing described pre-release last year as a “YA lesbian Great Gatsby retelling.” With five words, I knew exactly what that book was going to be, how the concept was unique, and that it was something that I wanted to read. Having a high concept is appealing because it helps a book stand out in a crowded market and reach readers, but isn’t the be all and end all if the writing is amazing. I wouldn’t call ELEANOR & PARK high concept, but it’s wonderful and became a bestseller—people recommended it to others because it’s a fantastic novel, even though it’s a more difficult story to sum up in a single sentence.


AN: As an agent, you see a lot of manuscripts from beginning writers. If there was one area you could tell a writer to focus on, to work toward improvement in, what would it be?

PN: I would advise all beginning authors to read at least one craft book about plot and pacing when starting out – I frequently recommend Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT. There’s so much about writing that’s somewhat intangible – for example, I can’t coach an author into finding a compelling and unique voice – but there are certain things that readers consistently find satisfying in the way that plots unfold. Learning what makes a plot work makes a huge difference in taking your writing from “promising” to “can’t put it down.”


AN: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?

PN: Consume all the culture you can – that’s where ideas come from. Read recent fiction in your genre and in other genres, read classics and bestsellers, watch studio movies and indie movies, listen to podcasts, read nonfiction and journalism and cultural criticism. I get a lot of submissions that are good but just don’t feel quite fresh or different enough, and sometimes I think that it’s because the writer is only reading within their genre. The more kinds of things you take in, the more you’ll be able to pull from in crafting a story that feels original and exciting.


AN: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?

PN: Yes! Send me a query letter at patricia@marsallyonliteraryagency.com. I do my best to reply to queries within four weeks, so if you don’t hear from me in that time frame, yours might have gone astray and you should try again.


More agent interviews in the coming months.

Hi, everybody. I just wanted to let everyone know that the agent interviews are on hiatus until the start of the new year. Rest assured, I’m busily putting together some great new information for all my fellow writers and am tentatively planning to start posting them in January. In the meantime, I have a question for all my readers. I know you love the agent interviews, but is there anything else you’d like to see this blog tackle, or anything you’d like to learn about in the next few months? Drop me a line and let me know! I’ll see what I can do!

Interview with literary agent Julie Gwinn.

Today, we are lucky enough to have literary agent Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency on the blog. Thank you, Ms. Gwinn, for being here with us.

 headshot me

AN: How did you become an agent?

JG: I have been agenting full-time since July. I have been involved in the publishing industry for more than a decade, as a trade book marketing manager, editor and finally as fiction publisher. After the fiction line was shut down at my previous publisher, I began working freelance to help edit, consult and manage authors and their projects. My transition to agenting seemed to happen organically from the consulting business.


AN: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?

JG: The relationship between author and agent is a business relationship first. It is the author’s responsibility to write a good story that the agent can then sell. There is teamwork involved. If the agent asks the author to tweak content or invest in a website, the author should take this into consideration. If the author tells the agent they can only write one book a year, the agent needs to listen. There needs to be open, honest and clear communication and expectations should be set early on.


AN: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?

JG: I represent all romance (contemporary and historical and romantic suspense), speculative, fantasy, straight suspense, true crime, YA and NA and some non-fiction.  I do not represent horror as this is not a genre I read and so I’m not familiar with what makes a great horror novel. I would love to see great romance with smart, witty banter (either contemporary or historical). I would like to see smart suspense that leaves me questioning ‘who dun it’ until the end. Cozy mysteries. Sports romance. Military. Unique ideas or plots with twists. I’ve seen a lot of dystopian, angels and demons, novels where the protagonist suffers from multiple issues (alcoholism, bulimia, abuse, homelessness).


AN: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?

JG: Research. Research who you are querying. Research how they want submissions. Research who your audience is (hint: it won’t be everyone). Research comparable titles (who is your writing similar too? What novel is similar to yours and yet different). Research your grammar and editing.


AN: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting? JG: Yes I’m open to submissions. Julie@TheSeymourAgency.com


You can find Ms. Gwinn on Twitter here.

You can find her on Facebook here.

Interview with literary agent Mark Gottlieb.

Today, we have literary agent Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group on the blog. Thank you, Mr. Gottlieb, for being with us!


AN: Sometimes, an agent/editor will reject an author’s manuscript because they feel that they didn’t connect with the author’s voice/it wasn’t strong enough. How do you define voice in fiction? And do you have any tips for a writer about how to make their voice stronger?

MG: With fiction, the voice or the writing itself is just as important as the meat of the story being told. In nonfiction it is less so the case since nonfiction is subject-driven.

It can take a long time for an author to build a voice in fiction, whether it be the voice of the narrator or the voice of the character. I find that reading one’s work aloud really helps. One author I know actually takes it a step further, in that he dresses up as the characters from his novels and speaks before a mirror, to get into the voice of his characters. When I heard that I thought it was a really nifty idea and true to the story form which began in the oral tradition by fireside.


AN: Another common reason for rejection is not connecting with the author’s characters. What makes a reader care about an author’s characters? How can a writer make their characters stronger?

MG: Cardboard cutouts of one-dimensional characters are not relatable. Often a character that does not have any personal growth by the end of the novel is not relatable.

There’s a lot of talk about “high concept” fiction lately. Can you define it for us? Do you feel that it’s become more and more important for books to be high concept?

High concept fiction would be more like what I like to call “big idea fiction.” An example of a big idea in fiction would be from the forthcoming graphic novel by William Neal McPheeters:

On the lower level of an eight-hundred-year-old building, among the cannibalized scraps left over from the robot war, is discovered a crated, unassembled, untested time machine that the robots were building at the time they were defeated. Among other oddities, there’s an assembled, but inactivated, very human like “Companion Robot.” In secret, the city’s best scientific minds assemble and test the time machine and finally establish that it is designed to transport robots only—humans, or any living organism, will not survive transportation through time. 

Low concept fiction would concern more of the day to day life of characters in a book, so that robot’s interactions or life drama with other characters.


AN: As an agent, you see a lot of manuscripts from beginning writers. If there was one area you could tell a writer to focus on, to work toward improvement in, what would it be?

MG: A few things:

-Learn to speak of your work in one breath or two sentences. This is also known as the elevator pitch.

-Starting out, a writer should focus on keeping their work at 80,000-120,000 words.

-Include a one-paragraph author bio with your queries that contains relevant writing experience.


AN: How did you become an agent?

MG: I’d like to say that I was publishing from the womb, but that’s just not the case. Truth be told, both my parents got their start in publishing. Currently, my father is the chairman at Trident Media Group, the literary agency where I work. My parents fostered in me an interest in storytelling and publishing from a very young age. While at Emerson College, where I studied writing, literature and publishing, I established a small press called Wilde Press. They publish four chapbooks per year now and are a mainstay of the Undergraduate Students for Publishing.


AN: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?

MG: Every experience for a writer with an agent can be different as this is a subjective business and every work of writing is unique in what its need are. I could share a couple of pieces of advice, though…

Sometimes the submission/editorial process can be long and arduous since publishing is often slow-moving. Patience is a virtue.

In terms of what to expect from a good agent, their work should be entirely commissionable (instead of fee-based) as to keep their interests aligned with the author. That is why our work is commissionable, as opposed to a lawyer charging an hourly rate. In the lawyer’s case, it’s oftentimes in their interest to drag matters out since it’s more billable hours for their firm. In the case of an agent, their work is a service they do for their clients so it is entirely performance-based. Also make sure that your literary agency choice is legitimate and based in NYC, as book publishing is New York-centric.


AN: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?

MG: I am looking for more military science-fiction and epic/military fantasy. I enjoy comedic writings from most every genre. I’d like to do some more celebrity memoirs, horrors, and thrillers.

I am getting too much dystopia, urban fantasy, paranormal romance/paranormal women’s fiction and personal memoir. The market is also tired of vampires and zombies at the moment, unless it’s a fresh new take on the genre.


AN: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?

MG: I am a practitioner of kendo (Japanese fencing) at the national level and hold a black belt degree. Much of the tenants of the martial art, which are grounded in bushido (code of warrior ethics), have informed my book publishing outlook as a literary agent.


AN: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?

MG: Don’t be discouraged by rejection and be prepared to ride the wild wave that is book publishing.


AN: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?

MG: I am open to submissions and Trident prefers to be queried via our site:http://www.tridentmediagroup.com/contact-us


You can follow the Trident Media Group Literary Agency on Twitter here.

You can learn more about Mark Gottlieb here.

You can follow Trident Media Group Literary Agency on Facebook here.

Interview with literary agent Laura Rennert.

Today, we are lucky enough to have literary agent Laura Rennert, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, on the blog. Thank you, Ms. Rennert, for being here with us!

Laura Rennert

AN: How did you become an agent?

LR: Books are a long time love of mine. I have a Ph.D in English Literature, and worked for a number of years as a professor of English Literature. When I moved with my husband to the San Francisco Bay Area, I got a position at a university, and I also began networking in the smaller but vibrant publishing community in and around San Francisco. I have a strong entrepreneurial side to my personality, and was drawn to agenting because it gave scope to my creative and editorial interests and also to my business interests. For a time, I continued to keep a foot in both academia and agenting, and then, when my daughter was born, I had to make a choice. I decided to agent full time because there was nothing more fulfilling to me than working with authors to develop the trajectory of a successful career and to fulfill their commercial and critical aspirations.


AN: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?

LR: There are many things I seek. I think of myself as a literary omnivore, and have diverse tastes. For this reason, I focus on the essential qualities of a work, rather than on specific subjects, genres, or categories. There are many publishable works that come across my desk, but works that elevate the form in the ways I describe below are rare. I’m including some successful examples (my clients, not coincidentally) of what I’m talking about.

One of my special loves is writers who take an existing mythos and make it something original and uniquely their own. My client Maggie Stiefvater is one of the masters of this. Her novel THE SCORPIO RACES and her series THE RAVEN CYCLE draw on familiar mythologies — the Celtic legend of the water horse and the Arthurian and Welsh legends of Sleeping Kings — and transform them into something remarkably original, devastatingly powerful, and shockingly unexpected.

I am also passionate about works that use commercial tropes and give them surprising emotional resonance — some examples of this would be Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, a character-driven, emotionally wrenching contemporary YA that reads like a suspenseful mystery, and Kimberly Derting’s THE TAKING series, which takes the notion of alien abduction and uses it to explore both the teen fear of being left behind by one’s peers and the universal fear of the other in ourselves.

I have a soft spot for narrative risk takers in all categories, and have to mention the inimitable Ellen Hopkins, who writes remarkably honest, deeply insightful, and beautifully crafted YA in verse — her most recent RUMBLE just came out a few weeks ago — and Christina Meldrum’s dense, lush, literary-commercial YA MADAPPLE, as examples of this. Andrew Smith, who was a client with whom I worked over the course of seven YA’s (THE MARBURY LENS and WINGER, among others) is a wonderful example of this, as well. He is wildly original both in the writing and in the conception of his novels.

I’m also on the lookout for authentic, sensitive, diverse voices that open a window on less represented perspectives and characters. Mitali Perkins writes this kind of fiction (chapter books, mg, and YA) and talks about the need and requirements for it in a wonderfully eloquent, insightful way on her blog “Mitali’s Fire Escape.”

I also love middle grade with memorable, strong characters; rich, original world building; an authentic, kid appealing perspective; and lots and lots of heart. Matt Ward’s THE FANTASTIC FAMILY WHIPPLE and Shannon Messenger’s THE KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES series are fine examples of this.

As far as what I’m getting too much of, I feel like I see many projects that are derivative — that feel like they are chasing successful market trends.

Of course, the consistent element in all this is be original and authentic, surprise your reader with both your craft and your conception, and bring real emotionality and depth to your work.


AN: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?

LR: Hmmm … that despite my blue blood 19th century Brit Lit roots (my specialty when I was in academia), I have surprising tastes. I’m married to a NYT Bestselling political thriller writer who likes to live his fiction and was formerly in the CIA. As a result, I have an interest in forbidden knowledge, exotic locations, subterranean worlds and a fascination with martial arts and other kinds of self defense.


AN: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?

LR: Believe. In. Yourself. To me, this is about not only the passion and perseverance this industry requires, but also about being your wildly idiosyncratic, subversive, passionate, eccentric self in art and in life.


AN: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?

LR: I am always open to submissions and always hungry for that next amazing author who moves me, challenges me, changes me, and compels me. Like a shark, if I stop swimming (in the query box), I think I’ll die. The qualifier, of course, is that my standards are very high. The best way to submit work to me is to follow the guidelines on our agency website:

www.andreabrownlit.com — agency website

www.laurajoyrennert.com — my own author/agent website

I’d recommend reverse engineering your approach and trying to think like an agent. I do this myself — I try to think like an editor, when I’m pitching client work. It’s important to do enough research so you have a clear idea of what I, or any agent to whom you’re submitting, loves and seeks. Our agency includes representative titles under each of our bios to tip our hand in this regard.

I’m most drawn to queries that are clear, concise, and vivid. Strong queries convey what is compelling about a project. My short hand for this is: who (character), what (the story spine), where (the nature of this world, sense of place), and ‘why should I care’ (the latter references what the stakes are, what is special about this project that distinguishes it from the other work in the same space, what will draw readers to it). I pay particular attention when the author has an accurate sense of where his or her book fits in the market and seems knowledgeable. To me, this demonstrates that the writer views writing as his or her profession. It’s a bonus when I also get a sense of the interesting person behind the work.

Thanks so much for having me and for your great questions, Amy!


AN: Thank you, Laura, for taking the time to provide such insightful answers!