Agent Hunting

LONCON3_logoPeter Newman—podcaster, debut author, taking notes at this time last year doing this—Got it all this year! Juliette XXX

Francis Knight—published with Orbit. 3 books pub. another book next year. Couple of years ago I was close to giving up. Alex Fielder.

Martin Owton—been agented for 7 years. Don’t have a deal.

Wesley Chu—Angry Robot and Tor. Debuted in May. Signed 3rd deal this year. Russell Gaylin.

Peter:
Advice—marry Emma.
Started writing years back. Joined a writing group. Practicing. Then writing furiously every day and writing lots of stuff that folks won’t ever see.
When you finish your book, you want to get it out there. I didn’t get it out there. Was told to wait a while. Come back to the book and look at it.
Maybe your first book isn’t the one you want to send to an agent. I sent my fourth book out.
Wait.
Hard to get an agent. Get gazillion submissions.
The fact that you are here is you’re in the top 25%. Your odds are a lot better.
Quite impatient. Submitted to publishers and agents at the same time. If I got a publisher, I would get an agent. … [Everyone else is saying cons.] It worked. I got an offer from a publisher. At same time had agents who were interested. I picked the agent that I wanted and
Literary Rejections online site. List all the agents that are currently accepting and the kinds of things they are interested in.
Always follow the guidelines.
Follow the instructions. It’s a test. Can you follow instructions? Are you going to be easy to work with?
Some agents stand out for some reasons.
Proactive looking at the agents’ websites, etc.
#askagent on Twitter
ask all the dumb questions

Godward_The_Old_Old_Story_1903 love romance WC pdFrancis—published romance author
Don’t need an agent in romance. Just submit. Did that. Sold five. Didn’t want to be writing romance.
Looked for agents. Sent out three queries. “fantasy noir” agent is who I was hoping for. Two weeks later got an agent. Eight weeks later I had an offer from Orbit.
That was the second or third book I started but the seventh I finished.
You can learn a lot from a smaller press—as long as it is reputable.

Wesley:
Angrila Books had a ? in March
Got 945 submissions. Asked for query and 3 chapters.
Asked for 65 fulls.
25 made it to editorials.
5 received deals.

Between 25 editorial I queried 6 agents. My agent interviewed me. Got an agent.
Two months later, got the deal.
Russ is one of top 2 agents in world—career that I want to follow. John Scalzi’s agent is Ethan Ellenberg.
Russ represents Phillip K. Dick, JK Rowling, etc…

Peter:
In the last year, I like to hear about agents “they’d be good for me.”
Not just any agent will do.

Francis:
I caused gasps of horror among writers because I have never met my agent and only talked over the phone.

DSC_2874Wesley:
Agents wear different hats and do different things.
Hand holders, they will encourage you at every single step. A lot of debuts need.
Lawyers, all about the wording of the contract.
Sharks and businessmen, those who only chase the deal.
Editorial, edit the crap out of you.
Keep that in mind. Writers are insecure people. You might not get the emotional support you want from your agent. Find the personality of the agent that works for you.

Francis:
my agent was so enthusiastic. He really liked the book.
He is good at showing enthusiastic.

Martin:
Do not fixate on a particular agent.
They might not be the person you can work with.
Took me 7 years to find an agent. Sent out 100 queries. Got 6 whole book reads.

Francis:
lots of reasons to be rejected from publishers.

Serusier's 1892 The Grammar woman writing book pub domPeter:
Don’t send to multiple agents in an agency—unless they allow it.
Will be specified in the guidelines.

How are you going to find that out?

UK agents:
Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook—general and not always up to date
WritersServices.com
LiteraryAgencyDirectory.uk
You can usually call a UK agency. You might get straight to the agent.

Standard submission:
first 3 chapters
1,000 word synopsis

Wesley:
Every US agent has website. Check guidelines. Some will want only query letter.
5-10 pages, 50 pages, 3 chapters
ALWAYS SEND THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK.

Albert Anker 1865 children writing pub domMartin:
Don’t send the prologue.

Wesley:
Don’t write a prologue.

Martin:
UK
short cover letter

Wesley:
Send queries out and follow query tracker and difference is 3 days and weeks.
Agents will farm out their reading. If you accept it, give me a summary.

Martin:
[Got rejection from Wesley Chu’s agent in 15 minutes.]

Peter:
often not what they are doing 9-5
Nearly everybody knows everybody.
Even if you get a rejection, don’t reply. Don’t write about it. Don’t Tweet it. No matter how they hurt you, don’t…
Posted all her rejections and was snarky.

People at WorkWesley:
Think it depends on a reply.
Don’t be an a**hole.
All authors know each other. We all talk.
If they send a rejection, you don’t need to reply.
If it is a personal letter, you should send a thank you. –Can I submit something else to you? (If they wrote “liked this, lost me here.”)
Depends on specific reply.
There are some where it seems like they were on the fence… I have requested a rejected rewrite/reread, I got one.

Martin:
If you got something specific, they’ve read it. That’s not their standard. Boilerplate is their standard.
Personalized rejections say something about your book, about your individual characters…
When they say, “do please think of me with your next submission,” they mean it.

Agents with mature lists don’t have that many places for new writers.
Maybe 3 a year.

One of your best options is if you spot a new agent. Editor who left publisher and went with an agency. Or newly finished intern whose an agent.

Keep an eye on the BookSeller. “So and so has joined this agency.”

Look on QueryTracker.

Coppo_di_Marcovaldo,_Inferno canto 34 c1301 mosaic Hell devil WC pdQueryLetterHell is brutal. But helpful.

who is central character?
what do they want? what are the obstacles?

what is different about your work?
focus on action of character

US
QueryShark blog
Read the whole of that. Read the whole archive.
She rips them apart.

Writing a query is a dark art, completely different from writing a novel.

Wesley:
specific art
once in industry, never have to write again

Martin:
If vague, send a query letter and first 5 pages.

Peter:
Worth paying attention.
They want an email that’s a quick hello and response.

Francis:
15% didn’t follow guidelines, so automatic rejection

9Worlds 2014 wonder woman crew-6198Wesley:
literally reading directions, but there are other things that I found invaluable.
WorldCon is one of them.
Take advantage of conventions.
WorldCon (WorldFantasy) has high

Peter:
directions, my ability to read and pay attention was very different.
Have a responsible adult check before each step.

With manuscript, wait.
Get some other people to read it and get response.

Martin:
You mess it up once.
New editor from Tor KoffeeKlatch.
Miriam Wineberg. Reps Victoria Schwab who wrote Vicious.

People at WorkWesley:
Get elevator pitch ready.
Ginjer Buchanan, editorial director of Ace.
She asked me what my book was about.
Rambled for 2 minutes.
You need solid in 45 seconds.
At the end, she said, “It’s got a nice title.”

Dealer’s Room
Editors and agents are standing behind their books.
Marcus and Gillian Langus

Koffeeklatch’s are critical.
There you can talk to them about what you are doing.
Book it and do it.
Book in with writers. How did you do it?

Wesley:
Caution strongly about approaching editors and agents with intent to pitch.
They are here to work but also hang out.
Last thing they want is to be swarmed. Don’t pitch unless asked. Introduce yourself. Be friendly on a non-professional letter. At end of conversation, ask if you can give them a card, can I query you?
Good possibility he will then ask you. “What’s your book about?” then answer it fast.
But be wary about asking.

Err on the side of caution.
You know these guys are inundated.
It is an art when you do this in person. It is about getting to know them.

Peter:
Pretty good at seeing the desperation.

questioning??Synopsis for a series:
Don’t.
“This book has series potential.”
Agent will ask… What else are you working on? What else have you got?

While you are submitting, keep writing. Write on something else.

Wesley:
Don’t write the sequel to your book.

Question:
How much query letter differ from 30-second pitch?

Peter:
after a demonic apocalypse, man with humanity’s last hope, taking it where it needs to go, with a baby and a goat

boy surrounded by question marksQuestion:
Write across genres?

Wesley:
Publishing is inherently conservative. Guidelines you want to follow.
Don’t make first book too long.
Identify a genre to be in.
Expect to have to write another book in that genre.

Question:
If publisher rejects you, agent will say I can’t take this back there.
It’s a risk.
Flip side, if you got a deal, you’ll get a choice of agents.

But when you have a deal in hand, you might receive offers from agents to negotiate that contract only. BE CAREFUL OF THAT.

With a deal in hand, the agents didn’t want to sign me.

boy surrounded by question marksQuestion:
What is process for agent?

handshake
contract—sff only specified

How quickly do they communicate back?—You want to know they’ll answer soon.
Available.

There are bad agents.

No agent is better than a bad agent. But was with a reputable agency initially.
Check the agent online.

If they want to charge you for reading your book or sell you editing services, those are scams.

student_question hand raisedQuestion:
Talking to agent.
Query + 5 pages, then full mss
What might I do to mess it up?

As long as you are polite, should be fine.

Wesley:
if trading emails, they are trying to figure out how malleable you are, …
I didn’t make big enough changes at his request, so I was rejected.
Angry Robots wanted 3 small things. I rewrote 60% of the book in a month. Make big changes in response.
If it’s really a small change, they will sign you.
If they want to see the change first, then it is significant. Need to see how it impacts whole work.

Question:
If sell in my language, is that a plus?

Wesley:
No. You might have great career in native country. May or may not write well in English.

Question:
Do I approach in a different way as a non-native speaker?

No.

green and orange booksQuestion:
Does it still help to have a portfolio of short stuff published?

Not really.

Wesley:
Agents are readers first and foremost.
A short story success does help you acquire an agent.
I know several authors who did really well in short story market and agent approached them to see novels.

Peter:
If you love writing short stories and novels, then go that route.
If you don’t love them, then don’t write short stories.

Francis:
Your novel will sell your novel.

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