Book Proposals

Why I Represent the Author: Agent Edition

My reasons for representing an author may differ from why I read a certain book.

  1. Content: When I see something fresh and different, but not so far out that no one can relate, an author has my attention.
  2. Talent: Although my office must decline talented authors every day, writing talent will get authors a close look.
  3. Proposal: A professional proposal shows me the author has taken the time to learn how to write a proposal and cares enough to include one with the project. The proposal doesn’t have to be perfect, whatever that means. The proposal needs to present the author and book in the best possible light.
  4. Social Media Presence: A professional online presence is a plus. Strive for a mix of writing and personal tidbits online. Be sure to have appealing headshots. No one cares who takes the pictures or where, as long as they offer the type of image the author wants to convey to readers.
  5. Platform: An author who is well-known will get my attention. While this aspect may frustrate authors today, a well-known author who is already popular always has been and always will be easier to sell to editors and readers than a debut author. However, every author starts as a debut author! I give debut authors thoughtful attention.
  6. Market: I’m more likely to offer representation when I know editors who can give your book serious consideration. You may have written the world’s best horror novel, but I don’t have those editorial contacts. Knowing which agents specialize in the type of project you are pitching saves you time and effort in your agent search.
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Should I Personalize My Query?

I’m frequently surprised by the things other industry professionals say. That could mean I’m still (and always) learning. Or it could be an indication that such people are much smarter than I am. Nah, that can’t be it. I was recently a tad nonplussed to see a fellow literary agent …

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Singing the Slushpile Blues

by Steve Laube

The unsolicited pile of proposals in my office (aka “the slushpile) taunts me every day.

“Come over here!” it says, tantalizing me with immanent possibilities. I say to myself, “Maybe it will be the next one I look at. That will be ‘The One.'”

I’ve been told that many of you enjoy hearing some of the offbeat letters or intriguing proposals I see. Here is a sampling from the past few months [typos included but some info is deleted to protect the writer’s identity]:

“I am seeking representation for my First book: … I have 17 more. This book could very well Save the World.”

“… is a polyphonic composition in which anti-hero…inner conflicts are given voice, subjected to contrapuntal treatment, and developed into an intricate narrative marked by a stunning climax.”

“Maggot … my inspirational Christian Literature fiction book”

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Tips on Comparables

The comparables section of a book proposal is one of the most challenging for many authors. Here are a few quick tips for a successful entry: Define It The comparables section shows what books are on the market that compete with yours. Know the Purpose The purpose of providing this …

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Defining a Few Terms

Since Steve dealt with some terms in Monday’s post, we thought it appropriate to discuss some other basic ones today. When a person undertakes to write for publication—and especially when that individual starts taking webinars, attending writers conferences, and hanging out with other writer types—he or she will encounter some …

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Why Was My Submission Rejected?

From Day One as a big, important literary agent, the least favorite part of my job—by far—has been saying no. It’s the worst. And it makes me feel like I’m the worst. Feel sorry for me yet? Seriously, the process of reviewing one submission after another, expecting to find one …

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