This is my second blog post from the young adult workshop I recently attended. Erica Rand Silverman is an agent with Sterling Lord Literistic and Jacquelyn Mitchard is a prolific author as well as an editor-in-chief at Merit Press. Click here for Part I.
|Erica Rand Silverman|
These notes are from Erica's powerpoint presentation.
* Research agents in advance. Find out who represents what genre.
* Don’t ever pay for query services. Using Query Tracker is acceptable.
* Prepare your query letter carefully. Agents will respond with the same amount of care which you take. "Sometimes we hear pings within our office and know everyone is getting the same query at the same time." That's ridiculous with an office full of agents looking for everything from children's picture books to adult non-fiction. It is appropriate to reference the agent's client list and mention what you like about these books. By doing this you are showing why you are seeking representation from this agent.
* Don’t name drop in your query.
* There was a phase when publishers bought self-published books because they had great sales on Amazon. This is no longer happening.
* Don’t be overly personal. Be yourself! Your work has to be first and foremost.
* It's all about timing: the right moment with the right person.
* Don’t list ten different projects you have.
* Mention your work first, then your credentials.
* If you find someone you really want to work with don’t submit to another agent. If you do multiple submits, be transparent at the bottom of the email.
* Follow the agency's guidelines for email vs. snail mail. Email may get seen quickly, but may never be seen again. Paper will eventually get read.
* If an agent responds with “I’m interested,” feel free to nudge if you haven't heard back in a month. If they don’t respond to your initial query, don’t nudge.
* A big problem in publishing is not having enough time to think. Writers need to be patient!
* If you receive more than one offer, do a happy dance and then select wisely. You need to give agents time to respond- at least one or two weeks. It is appropriate to write, “I’d love to hear from you if you’re interested before I make a decision on how to move forward.” Treat other professionals with respect. If an agent is workshopping your work, they’re interested. It's like dating. Don't query another agent if the first agent is subbing your work.
* Erica recommended reading this blog from Wolff Literary on choosing the right agent.
Here are some of my previous posts on agents:
And on querying: