Early in my writing career, I had the pleasure of connecting with Chuck Sambuchino, whose Guide to Literary Agents blog for Writer’s Digest is one of the most widely read publishing blogs online. Chuck happily obliged my request to help as a freelance contributor and so, for the past two years, I’ve done exactly that—curating dozens of New Agent Alerts (which are a GREAT way to learn about the industry and agents who are eager for debut novelists) along with conducting a line-up of interesting Agent Interviews for the blog.
Below is a roundup of my agent interviews for 2015. I hope to carry out interviews for Chuck this year:
Words of wisdom from Pete: “While you are waiting to hear from agents, start working on the next project. Some authors sign with an agent for the first book they send out, others won’t sign with an agent until the second, third, fourth, or more. …. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on that book, but sometimes it is best to get some distance and then come back to it later.”
What Elise is looking for from writers: “Really compelling, fresh ideas. I latch onto a proposal or manuscript immediately when I feel like the writer is doing something truly new.”
Words of wisdom from Alec: “Every rule, every do and don’t, every cliché, every everything—all of that goes away in the face of a great book. At the end of the day, nobody has any clue what’s going to hit and what isn’t, so find a story that you’re completely in love with and work your ass off to share it with the world in the best way possible.”
Greg’s advice to writers: “Don’t fall in love with your prose. Faulkner said the hardest part of writing was killing his little darlings and Mark Twain wrote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Both things take discipline and care.”
Victoria’s take on what writers want to know from agents: “I think writers are always curious on agents’ takes on current trends—whether a particular genre is on the upswing and whether we think their genre is more or less viable in the current marketplace, which is totally expected and understandable!”
What Maria sees coming across her desk: “There’s been an upswing in contemporary young adult queries (which is fantastic because I love contemporary YA), but the majority of them don’t focus on what makes their book stand apart. With so many realistic stories about teenagers in high school, your manuscript really needs to have a great hook! I’ve also been noticing quite a few manuscripts about pirates… and the pirate’s life is really not for me.”