Last week I highlighted some things that tend to annoy a literary agent. Let’s flip that around and reflect on a few things that get our attention.
Another drum roll please:
1. Follow the guidelines on an agency’s website. (Those are there for a reason. It helps sift, at one level, those who are wanting to be professionals and those who aren’t. Note they are “guidelines,” not “rules.” Every agency has them, and they are not always the same.)
2. Respect an agent’s time and the process. (Imagine fifty people lined up outside your door, each week, wanting your opinion on their work. Then, if you can’t get to them, fifty more get in line. After a few weeks, there are hundreds, all clamoring for attention.)
3. Do your best work. (We recognize good writing immediately. We can also see potential if what we have isn’t quite there yet. But slap-dash material is apparent even faster.)
4. Do your best to understand the industry and its nuances. (This can be done by reading various blogs, going to conferences, and broadening your understanding of the industry. Telling us that your book should be published by Zondervan because many titles in your personal library are from Zondervan isn’t a good idea.)
5. Understand what platform is and is not. Show us and a potential publisher that you want others to find and buy your ideas.
6. Remind me if we’ve met. It is always nice to have some connection, even if fleeting. You might be surprised by what we remember, even years later. (Yes, I still remember you, Xochitl, when you sat at the wrong table at the conference.)
7. Keep me reading. I may like the idea, but it is your writing that must keep me reading. It is what keeps an agent looking for the next one.
8. Be prepared with questions if we contact you. We don’t mind if you ask newbie questions. It shows interest, not ignorance.
There could be many more items, but I think you get the gist of the list. (See what I did there?)
Andrew M Budek-Schmeisser
How might I delight thee?
You’ve counted up some ways,
peeling back the mystery,
and for that I give you praise,
but surely there are other things
allowing entrance to your tribe,
something to give my query wings…
perhaps you’ll take a bribe?
Nothing too outlandish,
or cumbersome to flaunt,
but my proposal just might brandish
something that you’d want,
so might you post a list of these,
oh pretty, pretty, pretty please?
What a delightful poem! You captured the essence of the message and wove it with enchanting prose.
Darlene, thank you so much! I’m delighted that you enjoyed it; writing it was fun.
The answer to your bribe question to Steve is …. donuts. 😉
Pam, donuts, YESSSS!
Gonna be a writer dude,
make the literary scene,
and my chances are improved
with a box of Krispy Kreme
hand delivered straight to Steve,
all wrapped up in glitter-bows,
and he truly won’t believe
just how very fresh are those
donuts, warm still, in his hand,
crisp outside and soft within,
so, my friend, you understand,
this really is the way to win
a passage without trial or wrinkles,
the way paved now by rainbow sprinkles.
Andrew, another masterpiece that makes us smile. Thanks for brightening our day.
I jokingly put into a writers conference program an answer to the vague question, “What are you looking for?” with the word “Donuts.”
Fellow faculty members? Don’t do that. Writers take you seriously.
I had more people bring a donut to their one-on-one pitch session that week than I could ever eat.
Amy Boucher Pye
Xochi is unforgettable!
I’m impressed with your memory of names!
Tell that to the client at a recent event where I completely glitched on the name. It was worse when they asked, “Do you know my name?”
Ummmmm. Nope. (And their name badge was flipped backwards. No help there.)
Now, in my defense, the last time this was an in-person event was 2019. But still, it was embarrassing.
I must now forever call this client by the name of “Billie-Jo-Ray-Bob.” Because it was the only name I could come up with at the moment.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Steve, we have met. You said, “Oh, you’re the woman who’s been stalking me on my blogs…..Just sayin’
Jan Rogers Wimberley
Good job…goading us…training us…and personally, my enjoying your comebacks.
Thanks, ummm, ummm,…’Steve!”
Oh, Steve, unforgettable Steve, I thank God for your wisdom, generosity, graciousness, and sense of humor. I’ll never forget the day we met under the Dogwood tree during my first Mount Hermon conference (the same year I enjoyed breakfast with you at the wrong table).
You began your decades-long commitment to mentoring me. You sent me a CD (yes, we’re that awesome) and taught me about the ministry of magazine writing, which God used to start preparing me for serving through the ministry of Our Daily Bread. I’ll never forget the day I thanked you for that CD and for always offering me wisdom and encouragement. Yes, that day you said I was “just like the leper who returned to thank Jesus.” Do you remember how we laughed as you explained your way out of that hole and how many years I enjoyed reminding you about that conversation (like right now)?
Unforgettable Steve, I still thank God for the privilege of being one of the few authors you never rejected, though your role in my writing journey has been more than an agent. Do you remember being happy when God blessed me with the perfect agent for me. Like you, Tim and Karen understand my “unforgettable quirks.” “Pastor Steve,” you’ve been one of my favorite teachers, pastors, and encouragers. I’ll never forget that day, during another Mount Hermon conference, that I called my family then searched for you so you would be the first person I told and the first person I thanked, like a leper, after finding out that I would be serving as a contributing writer for Our Daily Bread. Eight years later, I am still thanking God for that unforgettable day I sat at the wrong table and apologized to you later that night after I realized what I’d done . . . because you just spoke to me about life and family instead of telling me to leave. (Yep. I just teared up.) I’ll never forget that afternoon, during another Mount Hermon conference, when you walked up during my conversation with Ginny Yttrup and affirmed my worth as a person and reminded me why I was brave enough to write the hard parts of my story.
Unforgettable Steve, I thank God for the pleasure and privilege of your partnership in ministry as we serve the Lord for years to come. I can hardly wait for the next opportunity I’ll have to sit with you, learn from you, praise God with you, and thank you for all you have done to equip and encourage me since our first breakfast together (at the wrong table) in 2011.
Thanks for being you, “Pastor Steve.” And thank you for never forgetting me. I love you and am praying for you, your family, and the ministry God continues growing and entrusting to you. I am so proud of you, Brother aka Unforgettable Steve. To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise! With thanks, Xochitl (aka “like a leper”)
Thank you Xochitl. That means a lot.
May God continue to bless your ministry of words,