Tag Archives: manuscripts

Top 10 reasons I think I will make a good literary agent (or, “When the muse goes on vacation, write a list.”)

1. I have a lot of Fairy Godmother in me and I look forward to helping authors achieve their dreams.
2. I’m a straight shooting, no nonsense kind of chick, so the writers and editors with whom I work will know exactly what they are getting.
3. With a good eye for detail, I happen to have a knack for looking at a manuscript and seeing what’s working and what’s not.
4. As I’ve gotten older I have learned how to be diplomatic and patient.
5. I have always loved books and reading so much so I will feel honored to be midwife to more books being published and more people having the opportunity to be challenged, entertained, educated and engaged with new literature.
6. # 4 may not be entirely true.
7. I am enthusiastic, passionate and committed to Act 2 of my life being awesome.
8. If I’m working with other authors’ work it gets me off the hook with my own writing.
9. I can help create art, make everyone some money and spread more love in the world, in my pajamas, sipping coffee, at my kitchen table, with my trusty computer.
10. Well, maybe #4 is a little bit true.

How about you? If your muse went out of town what kind of a list would you write?


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It’s just not enough that it’s written by YOU…

When I read a manuscript of a memoir or a non-fiction book proposal I bring the same set of expectations to the table as I do when I read fiction. That is to say, the things that are important to me in fiction are still important to me. You need to pay attention to pacing, characterization, voice. Crickey, please pay attention to voice! There still needs to be a certain amount of tension or conflict, to keep me turning those pages. If I don’t want to find out what’s next, why on earth would I bother to offer you representation, or want to sell your book? I’ll just pass. If your memoir or non-fiction book proposal isn’t in some way unique, quirky or tackling a new subject (or an old subject in a new way), I’m just going to pass. It’s not enough that it’s written by you. Well, unless you are some kind of celebrity. Then let’s talk!

Publishing is a tough business. It’s not enough that you’ve written something. It’s not enough that you’ve labored over your work, delving into your painful past, or learning everything about The Corn Palace in South Dakota, or interviewing the guy who makes handmade ukuleles from recycled material, or stringing together your grandmother’s recipes with commentary about your fascinating cultural history. If you want to sell books, the first step is writing something truly compelling. Keep me turning those pages.

What keeps you turning pages when you read? Do you think you’ve got what it takes?


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Dance with me, baby!

I am obsessed. After years of people telling me, “You’d really love Madmen. It’s a great show,” I started watching it via Netflix. Now I can’t stop. I’m absolutely distracted. I stay up way too late to watch, “just one more episode,” and sneak another in when I’m cooking dinner. I was the same when that last Harry Potter book came out. I was away with my family for a long weekend at a house in Vermont on a lake. We were there with another family. Only I wasn’t really there. I was at Hogwarts and fighting Deatheaters and hunting for Horcruxes. The entire four days.

Although my friends and family don’t particularly like hanging out with me when I get this way, I still love that experience of watching a television show or movie or reading a book, and I JUST. CAN’T. STOP.  It’s not merely my intellectual OCD either (because I mostly watch what I tell myself is “smart” TV and movies). It’s all about good writing. It’s the attention to detail. It’s building tension, keeping up a good pace and precision dialogue. It’s wrapping me up in the arms of the world that is being built in the book, movie or show, and waltzing me down the aisle. That’s what I look for when I’m screening manuscripts, too. Giving me anything less than that will get you a polite “no thank you.” I’m looking to go all the way…

Writers, when you write, to whom are you writing? Readers, when you read, what sweeps you away?


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