Tag Archives: getting an agent

GUEST POST: 10 Questions An Agent Might Ask You When You Get The Call

photo by Lynn Kelley

photo by Lynn Kelley

By Lesley Chea

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
  2. Why did you write this manuscript?
  3. Who are your influences?
  4. What are some of the books / films you’ve enjoyed recently?
  5. What other projects have you worked on /are working on / would like to work on in the future?
  6. Do you have a synopsis for the idea you just pitched?
  7. What books do you see next to yours in the bookstore?
  8. What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
  9. What is your revision process like?
  10. How do you see this submission being handled?

What other questions do you think an agent might ask?

41776_1775340232_8691_nLesley’s life choices revolve around storytelling in one form or other. This was evident when she was a copywriter, a contributor to a local daily and now, as a mother (“If you finish all your carrots, you can see in the dark! I swear!”). Armed with perhaps the most legitimate storytelling license of all – a law degree – Lesley writes stories from her corner in sunny Singapore while waiting for the latest seasons of Dr. Who, Once Upon A Time and The Big Bang Theory.


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Writing Queries: Three Tools for Success

1245687934448019525Minduka_Present_Blue_Pack.svg.medHere are some things you can do to give your query its best chance at doing it’s job!

1. Start by writing an impeccably good query letter. Um, really? That’s not such helpful advice. Yes, really. Here’s how to do it: Address it to the correct person (without anything smarmy, like “Dear respected agent”); include a snazzy intro paragraph that includes genre and word count; write a clean, quick synopsis with no spoilers and which leaves some unanswered questions; make sure your bio is short, sweet, and inclusive; sign off professionally and make sure all your contact information follows your name. Yeah, well what constitues “snazzy”?

2. In your intro paragraph, have that first sentence start with a fantastic hook. What’s a hook? It’s a one to two sentence teaser or elevator pitch. Like a Tweet, you know? Minus hash tags, of course. Something that will catch an agent’s eye (but not in a weird or scary way). How do I know if I’m being weird or scary? I’m not answering that.

3. Write a great manuscript. Aw, come on! You always say that! Yes, yes I do. Because honestly, even if you write the most kick ass query letter in the world, if your manuscript isn’t great (not just good… great) it’s always going to be a pass. No matter who you query. What matters is the manuscript. So don’t send your work out until it’s complete. That means it’s been through a number of drafts. Complete doesn’t mean you finished writing the story yesterday so you’re ready to send it out into the world today. Fine. Be that way.

You’re welcome.


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Do Fiction Writers Need to be on Social Media?

Does chocolate cake need icing? Does my dog need doggie treats? Do children need playgrounds? Um, no to all, but they’re nice. Seriously, why wouldn’t you do everything you possibly can to get yourself noticed? Are you committed to getting an agent or will you sit in your drafty attic loft, starving, alone, miserable, agentless, with a manual typewriter, but knowing you’re a “real” writer? I mean, I happen to like my chocolate cake sans icing, with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Some agents say, “Don’t bother. I don’t even look at author blogs.” So you might ask yourself, “So why should I bother?!” Well, because not all agents say that.

I don’t give my dog doggie treats because she’s too fat and doesn’t listen to me anyway. But after reading an interesting query, I go straight to the author’s website or blog to “see” who they are. If there’s nothing listed, I google them. Yup. I do.

“The voice of a novel is a fictional voice. Therefore, the novelist doesn’t need a platform,” one of my blog followers opines. (Hi Megan! Thanks for the e-mail!) And I think city children do need playgrounds because they suffer from a lack of greenspace and outdoor time but I rarely took my own kids to playgrounds because we live near the beach and quite a few nature preserves. I say the authors behind the fictional voices can benefit from a little platform to stand on.

Is being on Twitter, hearing what editors are saying, listening to agents tweet, going to hurt you? If the answer is yes, than definitely stay off Twitter. But if it will help you in your query process or in your writing, than skulk and/or participate in the conversation. In this competitive industry give yourself every advantage you can, for crying out loud.

If you’re going to play in the social media playground, don’t use it as an excuse not to write though. Put up a website with some basic information about yourself and walk away and work on your manuscript. Or, if you’ve got some discipline, start blogging a little. For fun. So you know how. So if an agent or editor does want more information about you we have something to see.

It’s like a good college application essay. When so many high school kids have 104% averages, perfect or near perfect scores on their SATs, enough community service hours to put flush toilets in all of India and leadership positions in all the right places, how does the college admissions office decide who to let in? They look at what stands out about the student. When I have 276 queries in my inbox and there are a number of manuscripts that all look promising, yet I’m being extremely selective in my offers of representation, how do I know who to choose? The author who has a smart or funny or interesting or quirky blog or website or Twitter feed, that’s who.

But that’s just me. I mean, I prefer powdered sugar to buttercream on my chocolate cake after all.

What playgrounds do you play in, actual or virtual? 


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