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Agents and Book Proposals
(The Art of the Pitch)

• How to write a query letter (to land an agent for a book)
• The art of the pitch
• How to work a pitch slam
• How to pitch a magazine or newspaper piece
• How to write a book proposal
• How to pitch a novel
• Developing a 'selling' book title
• Should you, the writer, hire an editor?
• How and why to use beta readers
• How to find and choose an agent
• The author-agent agreement (contract)
• How to protect yourself against not-so-good agents
• Agent fees
• Q&As with agents and editors
• How not to behave with/around agents
• Changing role of the literary agent
• Blogs and podcasts about the book business
• The book deal (helpful articles about landing it)

FLASH: Have You Been Affected by the Embezzlement at Donadio & Olson? Authors Guild reaching out to members who are clients of the literary agency Donadio & Olson. Accountant embezzled $3.4M from famed literary agency (Isabel Vincent, New York Post, 5-26-18) An accountant at Donadio & Olson, a literary agency that represents top writers, including Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, is accused of stealing millions in author royalties and advances and leaving the company on the brink of bankruptcy. See also Bookkeeper Sentenced For Stealing More Than $3M From NY Literary Agency (Bruce Haring, Deadline Hollywood, 12-23-18) Former bookkeeper Darin Webb, who embezzled millions of dollars from the agency, has been sentenced to two years in federal prison. Donadio & Olson represents authors James Hynes, Chuck Palahniuk, and Rick DeMarinis, as well as the estates of Robert Stone, Mario Puzo, Frank Conroy, Nelson Algren, Peter Matthiesen, and Studs Terkel. The New York Post reported that the thefts were discovered when an author expecting to receive a $200,000 advance from his publisher had not received the payment, and was not satisfied with Webb’s response. See Chuck Palahniuk 'close to broke' as agent's accountant faces fraud charges (Alison Flood, The Guardian, 5-3-18)

How to Write a Query Letter

Query letters to help you land an agent are different from
the query letters you send a magazine or newspaper editor.
The emphasis here is on books.

***How to Write a Query Letter: Nonfiction and Memoir (Jane Friedman, 1-5-16) A query letter for a nonfiction book isn’t all that different from a fiction query: you’re still trying to get an agent or editor interested in looking at your work, but that may mean a book proposal and sample chapters, rather than the full manuscript. (Nonfiction is often sold on the basis of a proposal.),...A query letter for a nonfiction book isn’t all that different from a fiction query: you’re still trying to get an agent or editor interested in looking at your work, but that may mean a book proposal and sample chapters, rather than the full manuscript. (Nonfiction is often sold on the basis of a proposal.) She outlines the query letter elements needed for narrative-driven nonfiction, information-driven nonfiction, for a "narrative-driven hook that's not a tired storyline," what to include in first paragraph, and much more.
How Much Should You Personalize a Query Letter? (Jane Friedman, 5-23-17) Personalizing your query letter "shows you’ve done your homework and you’re selecting the recipient with some care." But don't go too far.
How to Write a Query Letter ( “A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book....[It] has three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. Don’t stray from this format. You won’t catch an agent’s attention by inventing a creative new query format. You’ll just alienate your chances of being taken seriously as a professional writer. A query letter is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or even the whole manuscript to the agent.” See the sample "hooks" AgentQuery provides.
How to Write a Book Proposal (Jane Friedman, 5-28-17) Be sure to have read this as you begin your query letter, as many of the same principles will apply.
The Conflicting Advice You’ll Receive on Query Letters (Jane Friedman, 11-1-17) At its core, a query letter is a sales document, and so it’s meant to sell. But opinions differ on the best possible sales approach in a query. "Always remember: brevity is your friend in a query. The shorter the query, the less trouble you’re likely to get in. Plus, you don’t want agents lingering over your query; you want them to be reading the manuscript or proposal. You need to hit on the most salable aspects of your work, and avoid a book report..." This is worth reading partly for what not to do.
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9 tips for the effective query letter (agent Andy Ross, 11-28-10) Item 5: "Answer the key questions: What? Why? Who? What is the genre? What is the book about? Why does it need to be published? Who am I to have the authority to write it? And remember that in this day and age 'platform' is everything in commercial publishing, so most agents will look for your qualifications first."
How to Write a Darn Good Query Letter (NY Book Editors)
How to Write a Query Letter (agent Rachelle Gardner's advice is different from AgentQuery's--give them what they want!)
How To Write Query Letters ... or, really, how to revise query letters so they actually work (Query Shark, 9-4-16) Good "before-and-after-edits examples to show you what not to do)
Three Agents Reveal What They’re Really Looking for from Authors (Agents' Roundtable, Authors Guild, 6-22-16) What makes for a good query letter (the query before the full-length proposal); what else can authors do to make themselves appealing to an agent; how do agents shape their strategies for marketing a book and how actively involved and informed is the author; what makes for a successful pitch to a publisher; what does the agent look for in a publisher; what are publishers currently looking for in books; how the industry has changed.
Query Shark. Spend a little time on this site studying how queries get rewritten and improved. Offer your query for revision, study the revisions offered to others, scroll down the left column toward the bottom and studies revisions on "Queries that got to yes." Here's a good example (#224).
Slushpile Hell (Tumblr, One grumpy literary agent and a sea of query fails)
Successful Query Letters for Agents (Jason Boog, Media Bistro, with 23 agent query letters that actually worked, 12-18-12)
How to Write a Query Letter (free 15-part guide on Mark Malatesta's website) See also the Query Letter Blog (a series about agent queries that worked). On the same site, a Literary Agencies: The Directory of Literary Agents--with a pitch also for List of Literary Agents.
Successful Queries: Agent Jenny Bent and "Oh My Gods" (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer's Digest, 10/4/11)
Successful Queries (on this page are links to many in a series of query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents).
How to Write a Successful Query (Moira Allen,, on query letters for magazine articles)
9 Frequently Asked Questions about Query Letters (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer Unboxed, 9-24-12)
Queries and Synopses and Proposals (Writer's Digest)
Anatomy of a winning query (agent Rachelle Gardner, 4-28-09)
My Tweets from QueryDay (Rachelle Gardner)
The biggest mistake writers make when querying literary agents (jm tohline), followed by The best query letters do...what?
The best and worst times to send an agent a query (Wendy Lawton)
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How to Write Irresistible Query Letters by Lisa Collier Cool
How to Write a Great Query Letter: Insider Tips and Techniques for Success by Noah Lukeman
Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan
QueryFail. In March 2009 literary agents Lauren E. MacLeod and Colleen Lindsay hosted “QueryFail” on Twitter, an exchange of rants in which agents and editors shared worst query lines from their slush piles. Tara Lazar did a roundup of lessons learned (without the quoted lines) on, which you can read at the entry called QueryFail: How Not to Land an Agent. Literary agent Janet Reid brought up the prospect of a parallel "AgentFail" in her blog column The agent bubble (incidentally, she says that one of the few places agents get to hear what writers think is AbsoluteWrite), and the BookEnds Literary Agency hosted a forum for writers: Agentfail Right Here.

In essence, here are the lessons for authors submitting to agents: Do your research on the agent, follow their submission guidelines, address your query to the right agent (and spell their name right), and copyedit your query so it contains no grammatical or spelling errors. That alone will bring your query to the top. As for agents: Be sure the guidelines on your website are up to date. Respond! Everyone: be courteous and remember, we're all human. One side effect of this exercise was that some agents came across as "Mean Girl."
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Making the Most of a Pitch Slam

How to Prep for Pitch Slam (Bob Eckstein, Writer's Digest, 7-26-18)
How to Pitch Agents at a Writers Conference (Jane Friedman, 7-23-17)
Pitch Slam - Screenwriters World Conference (2014)
Pitch Slam! (Writer's Digest, 2018)

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The Art of the Pitch

Advice on various types of pitches. Bottom line: Pitch stories, not topics.
The Pitch: Jason Fagone on Landing “The Willy Wonka of Pot” in Grantland (Jason Fagone, Nieman Storyboard, 10-10-17). The launch piece in a Storyboard series about the mystical art of pitching longform stories, annotated. “If you can’t sell it in a couple of paragraphs, you can’t sell it at all. My rule of thumb is: Have three paragraphs, and they should be short.”
Wired’s exec editor seeks stories that reveal all faces of technology (Katia Savchuk, Nieman Storyboard, 3-5-19) Rejections aren't personal: “70 percent of why pitches don't work has nothing to do with the writer” “We get a lot of pitches on topics, but they don’t have characters who will drive the narrative. Scenes are really important to meet the reader where they are and help them relate to the story. For Wired specifically, the story has to be about something that is shaping the future and is driven by technology or science.” --Maria Streshinsky, executive editor of Wired, who annotates the pitch Eva Holland submitted to sell the story that became "Saving Baby Boy Green."
Annotation Tuesday (Nieman Storyboard) Grab a drink and plan to spend a little time reading these annotated stories about good pitches and good journalism and storytelling.
Pitching Errors: How Not to Pitch (Laura Helmuth, Open Notebook, 1-4-12) A roundtable of editors from seven publications. Most common mistake—pitching a topic, rather than a story.
The Basic Pitch Formula for Novelists (Jane Friedman, 7-30-11) Good advice she got from an agent panel at the Midwest Writers Workshop. Among other things, "Think of your query letter to the agent/editor as the first step in the SEDUCTION process."
The new author pitch: Show, don’t sell (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal, 1-16-12) "Three new developments — the etiquette of the softer sell, online connectivity and independent self-publishing — have revolutionized pitching. These have opened up a whole new world of alternative ways to craft different types of pitches, depending on your specific book and what it needs. The new pitch may be delivered or written directly to potential readers, reviewers, book bloggers, feature writers, interviewers – and it may be in person or online." In short, you may pitch directly to readers on your website or blog, you may pitch to a social network, you may pitch to retailers (can you guarantee a crowd of friends?), you may pitch to the media, you may videotape talks and put them on YouTube.
• Don't take rejection personally. It's not about you.
Pitch Database (The Open Notebook, The story behind the best science storkies). Each pitch links to the published story.
The “New Author Platform” – What you need to know (Rinzler, 7-25-11) "The New Author Platform requires a focus on developing an unobstructed back and forth between authors and their readers, with the authors — not the publishers — controlling the flow. Now it’s the author, not a publicist, who inspires readers to buy the book. The New Author Platform allows not only well-established authors, but unknown, first-time beginners to do an end run around the conservative gate-keepers and reach readers directly."
The Art of the Pitch (Alan Rinzler's insider tips for preparing and delivering a winning pitch to an agent or editor at a writer's conference, The Book Deal, 3-29-10)

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Secrets of a Great Pitch (agent Rachelle Gardner)
The Art of the Pitch (Authors Guild)
Constructing a Pitch--Dramatic Structure, Part 1: Looking for the Hook, Dramatically (Merilee D Karr, Science writing as theater, 10-7-15) Then, Part 2: Play Doctoring (10-11-15, on building a cast of characters). And Part 3. Dramatic Structure. Constructing a Pitch for Building Science. Part 4: Science to the Rescue (How do science-as-protagonist stories work? 10-31-15)
Pitch with Confidence and Think Like an Editor (Meighan O'Toole)
Creatively Pitching Your Project (agent Rachelle Gardner)
Blog Pitch Workshop, Part III (one of several excellent analyses of what makes a pitch work, by agent Kristin Nelson, Pub Rants, 10-27-07). Check out links to three sections of pitch archives along the right.
Making the Perfect Pitch: How To Catch a Literary Agent's Eye by Katharine Sands.
Why Writers Conferences Are Rethinking Pitch Sessions (Karen Dionne, Huff Post, 2-3-11) More writers conferences are changing to the no-pitch format. Authors who invest the time and money to attend a writers conference deserve better than a few stressful minutes with a bored, exhausted agent.
What's a pain letter? (Liz Ryan, Human Workplace, 8-28-14) "There are four parts to a Pain Letter: the Hook, the Pain Hypothesis, the Dragon-Slaying Story and the Closing." In this letter to a potential employer, show that you know in what parts of the business they might need help and suggest how you might be the person to provide it.
How to pitch reporters (Harry McCracken, Time magazine's editor-at-large, discusses good and bad pitches in a podcast, 2-22-13. PR pros, turn your listening ears on.
Power up your Pitches: 13 Fully-Critiqued Queries to Help your Freelance Success ( Kelly James-Enger, Dollars and Deadlines, 8-4-13)
Writers: How to Pitch Your Stories to an Editor (Paula Neal Mooney, Yahoo! Voices, 8-31-06)
How to Pitch an Editor and Win the Gig (Susan Finch, Men with Pens, 4-18-11, on getting an article assigned)
What Is Speed Dating? A common feature now at writers conferences, where attendees can spend 8 to 10 minutes, typically, meeting an agent or editor and pitching an article or book idea. (San Francisco Writers Conference)
Speed-dating for agents
Literary Speed Dating: How Not to Find an Agent for Your Book ( Karen Dionne, Daily Finance, 2-13-11) Other conferences use the "pitch-slam," or "speed-dating" format to connect authors with agents.
"Pitch sessions are a staple at most writers conferences, offering authors the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with a literary agents to talk about their projects. Some conferences pair writers and agents for ten minutes of one-on-one time, often for an additional fee. At one popular event, authors can book up to three such sessions for an extra $40 each.
"Other conferences use the "pitch-slam," or "speed-dating" format to connect authors with agents. Several dozen literary agents are seated in a large room, while authors stand in line for the chance to make a 3-minute pitch to one agent before moving on to the next." Several of my author friends have pitched articles and books successfully at the pitch sessions at ASJA's annual conferences. They may not make the final sale, but they get the invitation to send the pitch and/or proposal. That's your sign that they are interested in the concept. Then you have to deliver the goods.

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How to pitch a novel

• An agent is unlikely to try to sell a novel based on a short story or a partial novel. They'll probably want a full novel, so they can be confident they can sell you to a publisher, says a thrice-published novelist. Be sure you get the genre right, as that may affect whether the agent is interested. And if you've published successfully, be sure to indicate that, too--as agents make their money as a percentage of sales, so if they know you've sold before, that increases the likelihood that you'll sell again.
The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests (Jane Friedman, 9-7-16) The query letter's purpose is to seduce the agent or editor into reading your work. This post is a mini-bible on writing a query letter for your novel.

When Your Query Reveals a Story-Level Problem (Susan DeFreitas on Jane Friedman's blog, 3-6-19) "...sometimes a novel cannot be boiled down to a few essential elements because the story itself lacks coherence....A novel that can’t meet the standards for a query letter generally will not meet the standards of the marketplace for fiction. Agents and editors know this; that’s why they require pitches that adhere to this form." That's why you get developmental editing before you get line editing. Story structure is important.
A Debut Middle-Grade Author's Life-Changing Tweet A simple Twitter post helped debut author B.B. Alston land a three-book deal and a film option at Universal Pictures for his middle grade fantasy series, including Amari and the Night Brothers. Five literary agents reached out to Alston after his Twitter pitch on #DVPit-- a pitch event for un-agented creators of historically marginalized communities.
Querying a complicated book: Dissecting the elephant (Victoria Lee,, 1-11-18) First, make sure you've got the following: "An interesting character in an interesting world with an interesting problem." a query is supposed to get an agent to read your pages. The query Lee shares got a "near-perfect full request rate" from agents. She writes:
"THE FEVER KING is complicated. It’s a character-driven literary fantasy, with a couple subplots that tie in so closely to the main plot that they were impossible to leave out of any summary. Plus, I had to take care to make sure my setting didn’t come across as too dystopian (the book is not, in fact, dystopian, but it’s hard for it not to sound that way in limited space), and to tease out what made my magic system and the magic-training-program elements of TFK fresh."
The Complete Nobody’s Guide to Query Letters (Lynn Flewelling, SFWA, Jan 2005) The query letter that sold several agents on Luck and ultimately led to a two-book contract with Bantam. "Dissected and examined critically, the query letter is an elegantly concise piece of promotional writing. You have exactly one page to introduce yourself and your novel-just four or five clean, tight paragraphs, each with its own specific purpose."
Writing a Query Letter (romance writer Charlotte Dillon's excellent page of tips and links to more advice about query letters, and samples of winning query letters for romance and erotic novels
The Basic Pitch Formula for Novelists (Jane Friedman, 7-3-11)
Anatomy of a Query Letter: A Step-By-Step Guide (Writer's Relief staff, Huffpost, 1-9-13) "One common mistake writers make is to neglect the query letter process in favor of their sample pages. But literary agents do not have the time to read every set of sample pages they receive; agents use query letters to determine which query packet will be read and which will be tossed. In fact, some literary agents accept only query letters and request sample pages only from writers who present a strong query letter."
Agent Colleen Lindsay Gives Query Letter Tips (mainly for certain specific types of fiction).
Is Your Work Commercially Viable? (Jane Friedman, 4-20-12)
Agent Colleen Lindsay on some reasons she rejects queries

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How to pitch a magazine story

Queries for magazines and newspapers are different from queries for books. But often magazine credits are important for pitching a book, so understand how to do them both!
Is This a Story? How to Evaluate Your Ideas Before You Pitch (Mallory Pickett, The Open Notebook, 5-1-18)
Pitch Database (The Open Notebook) Spend an entire afternoon here and improve your pitching from what you learn from the tips and examples -- so your pitch doesn't end up in File 13.
The Pitch: The story ideas Mother Jones’ managing editor wants to see (Katia Savchuk, Nieman Storyboard, 4-17-18) The magazine is known for its hard-hitting investigations, but Ian Gordon says, “We write so much about bad actors that we're always looking for people to bring some levity to leaven the mix."
21 Experts Share How to Write or Get Featured in Top Publications Such as Forbes, Entrepreneur or (Christina D. Warner, Thrive Global, 2-24-19--Arianna Huffington's new venture) Be authentic. Engage with your readers (link to others and create relationships). Less is more. (For experts: Check out HARO, Help a Reporter Out). Start small. Send pitches, not articles--to an associate editor, on a lower-than-top rung. Present invaluable information. Stick to what you know. Don't send canned emails. Be discoverable. Write about evergreen topics that appeal to a broad base. Have something to say. (And that's just a sampler!)
Teach Grad Students How to Make a Living (Susan Shapiro, Wall Street Journal, 8-30-18) As a teacher of journalism, Shapiro was discouraged from "helping students get bylines, jobs, literary agents or teaching gigs.... “We don’t care about publication or payments,” one said. “We’re not a trade school.” Her opinion: "Learning to write succinct three-page essays, strong opinionated arguments and concise emails can be useful in any field. In all of my classes and seminars, I assign short cover letters, too. Every year it astounds me that top colleges neglect this simple art. An expensive university education should at least arm students with the skills they’ll need to pay for it." To compensate, she wrote and published The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks.
The Pitch: At the Guardian’s Long Read, no rigid formula or geographic limits (Katia Savchuk, Nieman Storyboard, 6-5-18) The editor's advice: Study what's been published before. Be authoritative, fresh and "arresting." Dare to send a (good) cold pitch. "Cold pitches are relatively rare, and we'd love to get more of them."
The Pitch: Jason Fagone on Landing “The Willy Wonka of Pot” in Grantland (Jason Fagone, Nieman Storyboard, 10-10-17). The launch piece in a Storyboard series about the mystical art of pitching longform stories, annotated. “If you can’t sell it in a couple of paragraphs, you can’t sell it at all. My rule of thumb is: Have three paragraphs, and they should be short.”
Gender Differences in Pitching: Results from the TON Pitching Habits Survey (Jane C. Hu, The Open Notebook, 2-14-17) Some editors say that in their experience, women are less likely to pitch a story after an initial rejection, whereas men get right back on the horse. Men were more likely than women to pitch one editor again, even if their previous work together did not go smoothly. But women cold-approach editors more readily than men do, among other findings from this survey of 224 science journalists.
The Pitch: a veteran freelancer on pitching The New York Times Magazine and more (Katia Savchuk, Nieman Storyboard, 12-19-17) Reporter (and editor) Paul Tullis has been on both sides of the pitching process; here, he annotates his "Into the Wildfires" proposal.
The Pitch: Pacific Standard’s executive editor shares some do’s and don’ts (Katia Savchuk, Nieman Storyboard, 3-6-18) Jennifer Sahn also mounts a defense of the overwhelmed editor, and why you might not hear back right away when you email.
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The Pitch: How to break into The California Sunday Magazine (Katia Savchuk interviews editor Douglas McGray, Annotation Tuesday, Nieman Storyboard, 2-20-18) “With us, erring on the side of too long rather than too short is a good policy. But I think pitches are like stories: They should be as long as they should be and no longer than that.” Odds are better on pitches for "shorts," short profiles and interviews and dispatches between 800 and 1,500 words long.
Annotation Tuesday (excellent pieces on how to pitch a story to a national magazine)
The Pitch: How to get the attention of a senior editor at Smithsonian Magazine (Katia Savchuk interviews editor Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, Nieman Storyboard, 11-14-17) Gritz says of story pitches she accepts: "There has to be something surprising and narratively interesting there." “You don’t always need to have a character driving the pitch. It could just be an interesting juxtaposition of ideas or a really cool technology.” She annotates a cold pitch she got from journalist Ben Crair that ended up running in the April 2017 issue; online it was called “The Biggest Tree Canopy on the Planet Stretches Across Nearly Five Acres.”
Pitching Errors: How Not to Pitch (Laura Helmuth, TheOpenNotebook, 1-4-12) Cold calls a no-no. Robin Lloyd, Scientific American Online: "Most common mistake—pitching a topic, rather than a story." Others: Not doing your homework and familiarizing yourself with the publication. "Just forwarding a press release." Pitching after an embargo is lifted. Etc. Plus "worst pitches ever."
Sample Magazine Query or Pitch Letter (Alena Tapia, The Balance, 2-4-17)
How to Pitch Magazine Editors (Adrianna, New York PR Girls, 4-15-13) and How to Pitch Online Magazine Editors (4-22-13)
Escape the Slush Pile: A Self-Editing Checklist for Short Story Writers (Brandon Taylor, Authors Guild, Nov. 2017) A list of common problems he sees in stories from “the slush pile” (an unkind industry term for unsolicited submissions), that prevent promising stories from getting past the form rejection.
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Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year (Kim Liao , Literary Hub, 6-28-16) "In the book Art & Fear, authors David Bales and Ted Orland describe a ceramics class in which half of the students were asked to focus only on producing a high quantity of work while the other half was tasked with producing work of high quality. For a grade at the end of the term, the “quantity” group’s pottery would be weighed, and fifty pounds of pots would automatically get an A, whereas the “quality” group only needed to turn in one—albeit perfect—piece. Surprisingly, the works of highest quality came from the group being graded on quantity, because they had continually practiced, churned out tons of work, and learned from their mistakes. The other half of the class spent most of the semester paralyzed by theorizing about perfection, which sounded disconcertingly familiar to me—like all my cases of writer’s block."
Pitching Errors: How Not to Pitch (Laura Helmuth and six other magazine editors, The Open Notebook, 1-4-12)
The Psychology Behind Writing a Great Pitch (Andrea Lehr, Convince& Convert). "As a promotions associate, I spend a fair amount of time crafting pitches. What is the best way to connect with this editor? What are the most interesting points of the data? Should I use bullet points or just a few short paragraphs? And once I’ve finally crafted the perfect pitch, I wonder whether or not the editor will even see it—some editors receive more than 100 pitches a day. So what causes an editor to show interest?" Interesting article and infographic.
6 Ways to Track Down a Magazine Editor (Kristen Fischer, MediaBistro, 2-2-16) Harness your sleuthing skills to get your pitch into the right hands
The Science (Not Art) of the Magazine Pitch (Kathryn Roethel, The Future of Freelancing, Stanford)
How to Pitch a Story to an Editor in the Media (Mandy, XO Jane, 1-12-14)
How to Pitch a Story: 9 Insider Tips for Contacting the Right Editor (Susan Shain, The Write Life, 6-26-15)
3 Mistakes That Make Editors Throw Your Pitch in the Trash (Melanie Brooks, The Muse)
Why won’t an editor reply to my pitch? (Monya Baker, Science Writers' Handbook, 4-17-13)
What Editors Want in Your Personal Essay (Brittany Taylor, MediaBistro, 8-3-16) Include these essentials in your first-person story
How to Write the Perfect Article Pitch (Freelance Writing)
How Much Time Should I Spend Preparing a Pitch? (TON Editors, Ask TON, The Open Notebook, 11-10-15)
How Soon to Repitch an Editor? (TON Editors, The Open Notebook, 1-21-14)
Repitching Killed Stories (TON Editors, Ask TON, The Open Notebook, 8-29-12)

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Q&As with agents and editors

Agents and Editors (Poets & Writers interviews)

Q&A with an Editor: Mark Doten of Soho Press (Authors Guild, 6-21-08)
I believe writing is an act of resistance (the personal is political) (5 On: Amy Tipton, interviewed by Kristen Tsetsi, on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-15-18) In a Q&A about young adult and middle grade fiction, the "unlikable female character, and her personal editing style, freelance editor and former literary agent Amy Tipton offers practical insights into how agents work and whether those who don't want a manuscript will be likely to pass it along to an agent friend, among other things. Must-read for authors of YA and middle grade fiction.
Agents & Editors: A Q&A With Agent Nat Sobel (Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Poets & Writers 5-08)
Q&A with an Editor: Yuka Igarashi from Soft Skull Press (Authors Guild, 1-18-18) "I want Soft Skull to keep publishing books no one else will, and to find the next Eileen Myles and Maggie Nelson, and to be a home for cross-disciplinary conversation and new perspectives. I also I want it to keep representing what it represented to me—a real community and a refuge from the mainstream “top-down” model of cultural consumption."
Beyond Good Writing: Two Literary Agents Discuss What Matters Most (Sangeeta Mehta on Jane Friedman's blog, 4-16-19) Mehta, a former acquiring editor of children’s books at Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster, does Q&A with literary agents Linda Camacho and Jennifer March Soloway, answering questions such as "Most agents say that platform doesn’t matter when it comes to fiction writers. But those who have one—staff writers at major media outlets, YouTube influencers, those with connections to the film industry—seem to land book deals more easily than others. Does this mean that the bar is higher for fiction writers who don’t have a platform?" How do agents decide which authors to rep? 
A Q&A With Agent Lynn Nesbit by Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Poets & Writers, Jan/Feb 2008)
A Q&A With Agent Georges Borchardt by Jofie Ferrari-Adler (Poets & Writers, Sept/Oct 2009)
Q&A with an Editor: Justin Taylor (The Literary Review) (Authors Guild, 10-5-17)
A Q&A With Four Young Literary Agents (by Jofie Ferrari-Adler, interviewing Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, Renee Zuckerbrot, and Daniel Lazar, Poets & Writers, Jan/Feb 2009)
A Q&A With Agent Molly Friedrich (by Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Poets & Writers, Sept/Oct 2008)
Q&A With an Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, DeFiore & Company (Authors Guild, 4-19-18) Be " as clear as possible about one’s own intentionality when it comes to the story one is telling, and why. That kind of clear thinking and intention comes through in queries and makes certain writers and projects stand out more than others. There’s nothing more compelling to me than a writer who already knows how to talk about his or her work."
Agents’ Roundtable: Three Agents Reveal What They’re Really Looking for from Authors (Authors Guild, 6-22-16) Eric Myers, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management ( YA and Middle Grade fiction, adult suspense thrillers, and adult non-fiction), Regina Ryan, Regina Ryan Books (books of significant nonfiction that bring something new to the table, mainly adult titles, and a select group of juvenile nonfiction), and David Forrer, Inkwell Management (fiction, from very commercial to very literary, and non-fiction, including narrative, memoir, biography, and humor). EM: "For a non-fiction writer, a solid platform is essential these days, as is previously-recognized expertise in that particular subject." RR: "I look for a fresh idea, good writing, a strong sales hook and a market that is clearly defined and reachable." DF: "For a novel, a good query letter should have a one-line opening hook (the Hook), one paragraph summarizing the plot (the Book), and a few lines about the author and what they bring to the table in terms of promotion (the Cook). For non-fiction, the most important thing is for the author to establish him/herself as the best person to write the book, and I want to be able to “see” the book in my head."
Algonkian Agent Inteviews (interviews with Betsy Amster, Lisa Bankoff, Elise Capton, Robert Gottlieb, Deborah Grosvenor, Jeff Kleinman, Ellen Levine, Noah Lukeman, Donald Maass, and Erin Reel)
Lynn Chu: Agent Unplugged, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett's informative interview with this principal of Writers' Representatives LLC, appears in the public part of the January 2010 issue of ASJA Monthly (the confidential section goes to members only). This is as helpful an analysis of what authors should know about their rights in the new electronic world as you are likely to read. It starts on pp. 6-7 of this PDF file,then jumps to p. 13. Print those pages out and highlight them! Her most valuable comments are on book publishers trying to becoming licensing agents for e-rights while taking a print publishers' share of income and without doing what a licensing agent ought to do, and since authors will very quickly learn how much they can do without the publishers, they are playing a dangerous game. Authors: there IS no standard on e-publishing terms, so do your homework. At a minimum, read this article.
Q&A: Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency (Kirkus, 9-6-17) "Discoverability is a huge obstacle, so the more marketing hooks publishers can use to help readers find your book, the better....There is a growing demand for 'own voices': the words, dreams, thoughts, and experiences of creators who have historically been marginalized and ignored....readers need to see themselves, and people different from themselves, in books."

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How to write a book proposal

If you don't have experience in book publishing, it is important to understand the process of getting a book published. Although the process has changed (and the option of self-publishing is now a more realistic alternative), certain things are still true for getting the imprimatur of a major publisher. You will almost certainly need an agent to place a book, for example, especially if you're a new writer. (To get an agent, send a one-page query first to see if they are interested in receiving your book proposal.) If you're seeking a publisher for a novel you'll probably have to write the whole novel first (to show that you can pull it off) but even then you may start with a proposal and sample chapters. If you're writing nonfiction, you won't normally write the whole thing first, but will sell the concept from a book proposal, a sales piece for the proposed book--to find out if publishers see a potential market for a book on a particular topic and think you have the chops to pull it off and can also attract a big enough audience for the book. Indeed, you will probably need to sell the book from a book proposal even if you have already written the book, because the acquiring editor needs something to share with colleagues in the editorial meeting, where decisions are often made about whether to commission a book and to bid against other publishers for it.

Among other things, what publishers are interested in are:
• The title (some books have sold on the title alone; if yours isn't great, the publisher is likely to change it--and sometimes changing the title gets you a second look)
• How good an idea you have (in the proposal overview you must grab the editor's attention)
• How well you can develop it (for a nonfiction book, you'll show this in a descriptive table of contents--with chapter titles and brief summaries of what each chapter is about) -- indeed, can you write a whole book? Some writers are great at articles but cannot pull off book-length projects.
• Your "brand" (how recognizable your name is)
• Your voice (an intangible but crucial component, that should come across in your sample chapter(s), if not the proposal itself)
• The quality of your writing (which you demonstrate in both the proposal and sample chapters)
• Your track record (sales on previous books)
• Your platform (the size of your fan base, or potential fan base, and how --and how easily -- you can expand it for this book). In short, how many books can you sell because of "who you are or who you can reach" (see Jane Friedman's definition of platform).How many followers do you have on social media? Where does your work appear?
• Your competition and comparables (how well have comparable books done in the past? What is your main competition and what unique advantage do you have? Access to unique sources? Personal involvement? Time passed since an earlier book on the subject has been done? Fresh material?
• How timely the topic is (for nonfiction) and how easy to sell in 25 words or less--the space on a book cover
• How you plan to promote the book (including how promotable you are, which includes how you come across personally). If you have a video of yourself giving a dynamic talk, you might include that, or a link to it or part of it.)

Read the publishers' submissions instructions, because some want electronic submissions. Find out what they prefer, to increase your chances of being considered.

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Here are some articles on the process:
What Four Top Editors Look for in a Book Proposal (Dona Munker, Biographer's Craft, Aug.2018) Dona report what panelists from Norton, Crown/Penguin Random House, St. Martin's Press, and Doubleday said about what's important in a book proposal, including new information or a new angle on a popular figure, an interesting life (not just achievements), a reasonable length (shorter is better), reasonable $$ expectations.
How to Write a Book Proposal (Jane Friedman, 5-28-17) "Your business case may matter more than the writing People don’t like to hear this, but for many nonfiction books, the artfulness of the writing doesn’t matter as much as the marketability of the book or the author. (You can see this played out in the rejections received by award-winner Rebecca Skloot.) If your book’s purpose is to impart useful information or to benefit readers’ lives, then you’re selling it based on the marketability of your expertise, your platform, and your concept. The book proposal persuades agents/editors that readers will pay $20 or more for the benefit that your book provides. ...Some types of nonfiction can be credibly pitched by anyone with proven journalistic or storytelling skills. (Think of a narrative nonfiction book, such as Seabiscuit.) If your book must succeed based on its ability to artfully weave a story, then your strength as a writer becomes more and more important. It’s still necessary to prove there’s a market for that story, but you won’t be successful in your pitch if you can’t deliver on the writing." Also, read what she writes on six key book publishing paths (there is an info-chart, but also scroll down and read the straight prose explanation.
Advance Copy Backstories on books by members of the National Association of Science Writers, Lynne Lamberg's brainchild, and great material when you're writing that book proposal. In this column, Lynne asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.
How to Get Your Book Published (Jane Friedman, 10-13-15). You have to understand the process!
How to Define and Describe Your Readership: A Confusing Issue for Nonfiction Book Proposals (Jane Friedman, 12-4-18) At some point, an editor or agent will expect you to describe the readership your book is intended for--that you need to know to market your book properly. "Being in lock-step with your audience is critical to knowing what to include and what not to include—as well as what language to use. It gives your approach definition." Where to start your pitch and a few mistakes to avoid. Memoir writers: Be sure to read the final section on pitching a memoir.  A practical dash of reality. [Back to Top]

The Reality of Writing a Good Book Proposal (Rachel Toor, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2-11-13) A "book proposal contains an invitation, a seduction, and an unromantic assessment of where you stand relative to others. You have to work to get the editor interested in you, and then outline exactly who will buy the book once you've written it." And you have to answer several specific questions, persuasively.
Writing an Irresistible Book Proposal (PDF, Michael Larsen, Writers Digest)
How to Write a Book Proposal (agent Rachelle Gardner, short and to the point).
Which sample chapters should you send to agents? (Writer's Digest)
How many sample chapters should you send? (Writer's Digest)
What are the guidelines for formatting a manuscript? (Writer's Digest

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Here are some books to help you think through the process:
Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction – and Get It Published, by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato, explores how to think through a serious nonfiction book (and to understand an editor).
The Fast Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal by Stephen Blake Mettee (short, to the point --what to do and what not to do-- from a seasoned editor and publisher)
Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book by Elizabeth Lyon, offers a template, a step-by-step process, for writing the proposal, good for authors who need hand-holding.
Building your author platform
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers, by Betsy Lerner, is good on the whole process of publishing.
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, by Jeff Herman and Deborah M. Adams, shows and tells (but many disagree with some of his suggestions)
The Art of the Book Proposal, by Eric Maisel (Kindle edition), developing the idea.
Getting It Published: A Guide for Scholars and Anyone Else Serious about Serious Books by William Germano (for publications in academia). See also these proposal guidelines for Harvard University Press
Nonfiction Book Proposal Outline (an excellent and succinct guide, from Ted Weinstein Literary Management)
How do you write a non-fiction book proposal? Here’s one in full (about teeth). (Michael Hingston, Medium, 5-17-17) Here's another book proposal, in full. (This one's about hockey.) (Michael Hingston, 9-6-17) Neither sold, but they are well written.

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The Ten Most Common Reasons Book Proposals are Rejected — and What These Reasons Really Mean (Marcia Yudkin, Marketing for Introverts and Other Under-Appreciated People and Companies -- No-Hype Marketing)

Check out the late Sarah Wernick's excellent advice on the process of finding a publisher: So you want to write a book (Sarah's excellent guide to basics). See also Caitlin's Guide to Choosing Precise Comparables (Caitlin Alexander,, 4-30-12) "My book X will thrill fans of Y and Z." "Comps aren't as much about what your specific story is as about who the audience is--what specific readers your book can be effectively sold to."

Developing a 'selling' book title

Much good advice here, and remember: The title alone can sell the book, so don't look for one that is especially meaningful to you but won't necessarily grab most readers. And when you have a good title, run it by a few people to market test it. Even better, get others to help you find a title. I spent two years interviewing people for a history of the department of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, and then invited everyone interviewed or in the department to suggest potential titles and subtitles. Reviewing the suggestions helped the department chair, Tony Lehman, come up with a great title: CHANGING TIMES, CHANGING MINDS: 100 Years of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine . You can see the cover here (with cover art by Linda Sibio).
The following articles may help you develop a great title:
Four Writers Tell All About Titles ( Matthew Gallaway, The Awl, 6-21-11) Extremely helpful stories and advice, from four authors describing the process of choosing their particular great book titles. Enjoy these fabulously written short pieces by Laurie Frankel ("The Atlas of Love'), Suzanne Morrison ("Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment"), Richard Rushfield ("Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost" and "American Idol: The Untold Story" with the front-cover blurb "The rivalries, the meltdowns, and the departures, The battle of the Simons, The Truth behind the voting, and The stars in their own words."), and Urban Waite ("The Terror of Living, A Novel"). Don't get too attached to your working title; expect pushback from the publisher's marketing or editorial department; work with your editor; appreciate the value of group brainstorming; don't stick with a title that requires explanation; and other valuable advice.
21 Ideas for Finding the Just-Right Title (scroll down to find this handy one-pager by Marion Calabro)
The power of awful (offal) first drafts (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter, 1-31-18) Scroll halfway down for two useful paragraphs on titles.)
Secrets to Developing the Best Title for Your Nonfiction Book (Jody Rein & Michael Larsen, Jane Friedman's site, 9-5-17) Excellent advice. If you're pitching your book to agents or editors, the perfect title for your book will define your subject and grab their positive attention. It should be a label they can confidently share with colleagues in editorial board meetings and use to convince the powers-that-be to release money to acquire your book. The authors provide good examples of titles plus subtitles to emulate if you are writing a prescriptive or platform-driven book or if you are writing narrative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, memoirs, or biographies.
A book by any other name: why does the US change so many titles? (Terena Bell, The Guardian, 9-13-18) Hordes of books have had their titles changed in America. Disproportionately, they are mysteries.
How to Title a Book: Making Titles That Sell (Dave Chesson, Kindlepreneur). "A good title is part Art and part Marketing." Chesson discovers such factors in title success as intrigue factor, title discoverability, genre mesh, and being informative. Check out the Kindle and Amazon Keyword Search.
Title Generator (Aabashenya, Fanfiction Primer, Fiction Alley)
How to Choose Your Novel’s Title: Let Me Count 5 Ways (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer's Digest, 4-4-15)
5 proven ways to create a bestselling book title (Rob Eager, Tools of Change for Publishing, 1-29-13) Very different angles on finding a "killer title": Is the title easy to remember a week later? Would a reader feel cool if someone saw them reading a book with that title? Is there an implied promise or an answer to the reader’s ultimate question, “What’s in it for me?”
How To Pick a Title For Your Book (Saul Bottcher, IndieBookLauncher, emphasizing fiction titles). Simple formula: (essence of your book) + (a twist) = your title. With tips on how to find the right elements.
Best book titles (Goodreads)
4 Steps to Choosing Your Book Title (iUniverse)
The Evolution of a Book Title (Kathy Ide, author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, writes about how PUGS became Proofreading Secrets.
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How to Find and Choose
the Right Literary Agent

and other Q's and A's about agents

Agents vary on many counts (including how much and how well they help you shape your proposal, how aggressive they are in finding you a publisher, how well they know how many publishers and how much clout they have with them, and how reliable they will be about protecting your interests after the book is published), so finding one through another writer friend is perhaps the best way, especially if the friend can also recommend you. This much is true: For the big traditional publishers, your chief way of getting your foot in the door is through an agent, as they screen out the 95 percent of manuscripts that are not close to viable for most traditional publishers (those who sell through bookstores and to book clubs, etc.). Traditional advice about finding an agent: Look at the acknowledgment page in books you admire or like the one you are writing and see what they say about their agent, if anything. Check sources below to make sure any agent you approach is interested in the genre you are writing in. Ask writers you know if there is an agent they recommend for a particular type of book (the kind you are writing or want to write); ask those with agents or who know agents if they would refer you to their agent (if you're a likely match). Attend conferences with pitch slams--which are popular now at many writers conferences.

To find an agent without leaving home, consider the following:
---Agent Query (a search engine with filters, so you can find agents specializing in your genre--about 1000 agents listed)
---Query Tracker (another search engine, with about 200 publishers listed and 1000 agents) You can also find the names of agents specializing in your genre/field by looking at the acknowledgments page in books broadly similar to yours.
---The Association of Authors' Representatives to see if a particular agent is a member (you want them to be--agents are going to be handling and managing your money and it will help if they belong to an association that would kick them out if they aren't good at it!). (In the UK, the equivalent agency is Association of Authors’ Agents (AAA).)
---You can find contact information on agents in
---Literary Marketplace (free and paid-subscription versions on this database and reference work, available in many libraries)
---Guide to Literary Agents (an annually revised Writer's Digest reference work, which contains much useful information about the process--read the reviews, to spot quirks, such as poor formatting in the ebook version)
---Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Agents. He describes the tastes and track records of the agents and editors listed therein.
---How to Get a Literary Agent by Michael Larsen may be useful on the process. It's not updated annually and agents do move around.
---Manuscript Wish List (discover what various agents and editors want to find in their inbox)
---Publishers Marketplace, a fee-based website ($25 a month, and doesn't require long-term commitment) that tracks (and you can search) book deals (by $$ size, genre, category, and/or keyword), with agents listed (showing what type of work they have represented and what publishing houses and editors they have connected with), and provides a wealth of information, including a contact database, who an author's agent is, hosted web pages, rights postings, a book review index, a book tracker. You can subscribe to Publishers Lunch (a free e-letter mailed daily to 45,000 publishing people), a sampler version of the premium Lunch Deluxe.
Publishers Marketplace publishes Publishers Lunch, a free sampler of the more comprehensive Publishers Lunch Deluxe ($25 a month), to keep up to date on recent deals.
---Absolute Write's water cooler forum on agents and publishers (a good place to spot positive and negative comments about a particular agent)
---Who Represents? (Database of Talent Representatives, a subscription site--provides contact information for a wide range of artists and athletes via their professional representatives)
---IMDbPro (information about agents for actors, not always up to date) If the actor you are looking for is a member of the Screen Actor's Guild, try SAG-AFTRA(the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists merged in 2012).
---Rachelle Burk's website, Resources for Children's Writers, is targeted to that specialty, and you'll find links to just about everything you need, including lists of publishers and agents who specialize in books for the young.
---Guide to Literary Agents blog (Writer's Digest)
---Thumbs Down Agency List Write Beware's online list (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and additional cautions about bad-apple agents (agents who are dishonest, amateur, marginal, incompetent, etc)

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How to Find a Literary Agent for Your Book (Jane Friedman, a great resource, 12-5-17) Knowledgeable answers to key questions: Do you need a literary agent? How do you find one? What you should submit to an agent, how to choose one that's right for you, what to expect from an agent, and are all agents equally good?
A Definition of Author Platform (Jane Friedman, 7-25-16) New authors often wonder what platform is, and Friedman's explanation is as good as any. It's "an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach," she writes. Publishers and agents "seek writers with credentials and authority, who are visible to their target audience as an expert, thought leader, or professional," and she explains visibility and target audience. Platform isn't what you hire a publicist to do -- it's what you've done over time to build a career, a network, and a body of work, plus it's your story/message and strengths.
Targeting Agents,” by agent Ethan Ellenberg, offers savvy, thoughtful advice.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD AGENT? This series by agent Kristin Nelson and Karen Dionne (co-founder of Backspace) is packed with useful advice about agents:
---Backspace Perspective: Agent As Savvy Business Manager (Karen Dionne, Pub Rants, 2-6-15)
---Article 2: Commanding Authority: An Agent’s Negotiation Edge (Kristin Nelson, Pub Rants, 3-6-15) Explains why she insists on separate accounting for multiple books by one author, instead of joint accounting.
---Article 3: Fearless Negotiation: An Agent’s Most Important Role for an Author (Nelson, 4-6-15) If your agent is turning contracts around quickly, s/he may not be negotiating terms thoroughly enough.
---Negotiation Tactics of Good Agents (Kristin Nelson, Pub Rants, 5-8-15) Do your homework.
--- Good Agents Audit Royalty Statements (Kristin Nelson, Pub Rans). Over the past decade, careful auditing by Nelson's agency has recovered over $600,000 for her clients. “Even now, nary an accounting period goes by that we don’t recover at least $500 to $3,000 owed to a client.”
---Authors – Are You Auditing Your Royalty Statements? (Karen Dionne, HuffPost, 6-5-15) Includes "How to Audit Your Own Royalty Statements" by Angie Hodapp
Switching Literary Agents: Two Agents Offer Advice (Sangeeta Mehta on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-28-18) Mehta interviews agents John Cusick and Holly Root. If you’re a writer, how do you know if it’s worth the risk of leaving your current agent? Does past representation impede your ability to find a new agent?
Frequently Asked Questions About Agents (Association of Authors' Representatives). Helpful information, including a list of questions to ask an agent you're considering or approaching.

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• Agency directories (about which, read Victoria Strauss on literary agency directories (Writers Beware)
~~Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc. (AAR). Search their database of members by genre or name. (agent listings)
~~QueryTracker (publisher listings and agent listings)
~~AbsoluteWrite forum on agents (with links to agencies)
~~Preditors & Editors (listings of agents y Karen Dionneand other representation)
~~Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents
---1000 Literary Agents
---First Writer
---Duotrope (not really about agents, but about where to submit: a subscription-based service for writers and artists that offers an extensive, searchable database of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art markets, with a robust search function)
Agents’ Roundtable: Three Agents Reveal What They’re Really Looking for from Authors (Authors Guild, 6-22-16). Interview conducted by e-mail after panel conversation held at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia, on March 19, 2016. Agents Eric Myers, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management; Regina Ryan; David Forrer, Inkwell Management.

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5 On: Ian Thomas Healy (Kristen Tsetsi's interview with Healy, a prolific author and publisher in speculative genres. "A good agent is a partner, a co-conspirator, and an advisor....A bad agent wants you to change your story, drastically perhaps, to make it more attractive to prospective buyers."
How to Find, Research and Evaluate Literary Agents (Reedsy, 1-30-18)
“A Right Fit”: Navigating the World of Literary Agents (Michael Bourne, The Millions, 8-15-12) "If it sounds like I’m saying, “It’s all about who you know,” that’s because that is exactly what I’m saying. You can rail about how unfair that is, and how it makes publishing into an incestuous little club, and to a degree you would be right. But that’s the way the machine is built, people." "Mainstream publishing is a Rube Goldberg machine of perverse economic incentives, in which large numbers of mostly idiotic self-help guides, diet books, and airport thrillers subsidize an ever-shrinking number of mostly money-losing literary novels and books of poetry. But just because publishing operates on a crazy economic model doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. There is a market, however tiny, for good books, and there are a small number of smart, hard-working people who live for the thrill of finding a talented author. If you are one of those talented authors, then it is your job to stop whining and figure out how to make it easy for them to find you."
Negotiation Tactics of Good Agents (Kristin Nelson, Pub Rants, 5-8-15) See many posts on agenting under two articles series: a) What Makes a Good Agent and b) Agenting 101. Check out the pitch workshops, too.
Inside Traditional Publishing: A Tale of Two Authors (A Cautionary Story) (Karen Dionne, Huff Post, 5-9-15). Be sure to read the items any good agent will negotiate.
Some consider it a conflict of interest if an agent offers to refer you to an editorial service--some agents run editorial businesses on the side, or get a referral fee for referring you to one. It might not be the best way to find a good editor or book doctor. (Similarly, many consider it a conflict of interest that agents are beginning to act as publishers, since agents are supposed to represent authors' interests with publishers--but that's another whole ball of wax.)

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As for why you might want an agent: The smaller publishers will often accept submissions directly from authors, but the big five or six major publishing groups generally require submissions through an agent--partly because agents filter out some of the worst material, screening authors and mss. for acceptability. A good agent will know how to orchestrate a book contract in the author's best interest--will know where the publisher might bend or be known for never accepting certain terms. (Not to mention that the whole process of negotiating contracts is odious to most authors, who tend not to understand the implications of various contract terms, to know that they can ask for alternatives, and to know which ones ought to be deal breakers.) Even if you have an agent, it may pay to join the Authors Guild and get its book explaining book contract terms--so you know how to talk to your agent. Not surprisingly, many first-time authors are so excited to find a publisher that they accept the contract the publisher sends them, not even daring to ask questions. Don't give up rights that will put you in limbo if the book goes out of print (which is highly likely). An agent is expected to be tough and in theory at least can protect your long-term interests. Some do that better than others, and experience helps, which is one reason I'd think twice about using novices.

There's one agent (BD we'll call him) who routinely sends out calls for writers for projects that require a good deal of research on often complex topics. His requests typically end with "This will be a work for hire for a low four figure advance; no royalties; with a 15% commission deducted by the agent." I'm sure he finds authors, but this is an atrocious deal on every possible basis (rights, lowball $, no royalties). This is not an agent you want representing you.

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How to find an agent

How To Find A Literary Agent (Nathan Bransford, and do read Publishing Essentials, links to which are along left side)
The Safest Way to Search for an Agent (Victoria Strauss)
From Medium to Book Deal in 12 Months (Sarah Cooper, The Cooper Review, 9-19-16) How a Google employee turned blogger wrote one article that went viral, proposed to turn that article into a book, and got a three-book book deal. "It’s important to have a real connection with your agent. He or she is going to be your champion, fighting for you and your work every step of the way. You don’t want someone who’s lukewarm about you. You need someone who wants to be your partner for this book and beyond."
How to Get a Literary Agent and Publisher (Jim Brown interviews Mark Malatesta, founder of Literary Agent Undercover)
How To Find A Literary Agent (When You’ve Self-Published) (Laura Cross, author of The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent, guest-blogging on The Savvy Book Marketer, shares tips for self-published authors seeking agent representation)

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Everything you wanted to know about literary agents... (Neil Gaiman, 1-11-05)
How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent (agent Noah Lukeman). See also Ask a Literary Agent (Lukeman answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published).
The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
Finding an Agent by the late Sarah Wernick (part of So, You Want to Write a Book!
Yes Virginia, There Is No Agent Fairy (Bob Saenz, Bob's Take, 12-15-15) "Agents and Managers are looking for writers who will have careers, not one trick ponies....You get [screenwriting] jobs by being great in a room, having what the people who you meet with want, and impressing the hell out of them with your personality and talent. If you can do this, then you get to keep your agent or manager to go out and do it again, keeping in mind that the person waiting in the outer office when you finish is there to do the same thing."
Taleflick (a searchable library of published books, short stories and other written works that are available as adaptable materials for film, TV and other media). See 'Marjorie Prime' Producer, Former Netflix Exec Launch Book Database TaleFlick . 'There is a $88 fee to submit materials to TaleFlick. The content is available for one year on the website, with authors retaining all rights to their books but giving TaleFlick the chance to bid on their dramatic rights and present the stories to studios and production companies. TaleFlick was started as a response to the industry's demands for original intellectual property...“By applying the right balance of technology and human experience, TaleFlick can find those stories that are the ‘needles in the haystack,' both efficiently and at scale.”'
Publishing Secrets: Battle of the “UNs”--Unagented/Unsolicited Submissions (Jeff Herman, Publishing Secrets)
6 Benefits of Having an Agent in Today's Publishing World (Jody Hedlund, 6-29-11)
Top Literary Agents Reveal How To Get a Deal With a Major Publisher (PDF, Steve Harrison's Million Dollar Author Club). Transcript of comments by agents Marilyn Allen, Jeff Herman, John Willig, and Kelly Skillen and Justin Branch from Greenleaf Book Group, a book distributor.
Guide to Literary Agents (editor Chuck Sambuchino's blog -- with many helpful posts)
MS WishList (manuscript wishlist, what specific agents are looking for -- what's "hot" for them now). Or follow MSWL on Twitter.
Agents who handle children's books (PDF, SCBWI Agent Directory, ed. Aaron Hartzler & Kim Turrisi, 2009-10 SCBWI Publications Guide, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
Researching an Agent's Track Record (Victoria Strauss).
(a Writer's Digest blog, with entries about new agents.
Agent & Publisher Research (Grad Student Freelancers--hire one to find what you need if you just can't do the research yourself)

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Questions to ask a prospective literary agent
Rachelle Gardner, on Books & Such
Agent Rachelle Gardner (8-9-10)
10 Questions to Ask When Offered Representation by a Literary Agent (agent Mary Kole)
Really, You Don’t Have to Ask (Tamela Hancock Murray for Steve Laube Agency) You should be able to find answers to these questions by doing your homework.
Literary Agent Offers: Don’t Settle! (Sarah Ockler on what to look at/for, not what questions to ask)
The next set of questions to ask prospective agents (Janet Reid, 9-28-09)
Questions to Ask Your Prospective Literary Agent (Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware, 2-26-14)

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Fees charged by literary agents

A Brief History of Fees (Victoria Strauss, The Truth About Literary Agents' Fees, Writer Beware, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, SFWA)
Fees in Their Infinite Variety(Victoria Strauss, The Truth About Literary Agents' Fees, Writer Beware, SFWA)
Thumbs-Down Agencies List (Writer Beware, SFWA)
Literary Agents and Upfront Fees (Matt Knight, Sidebar Saturdays, 3-4-17)
(Ann Crispin, Writer Beware, 6-28-10)
How Literary Agents Get Paid: Standard Commission Practices And Payments For Literary Agents (Writer's Relief, 2-26-14)
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Author-agent agreements (contracts)

Should you sign a contract? A clear written contract protects both the author and the agent. The contract should spell out what happens to the representation and commission should the relationship end. And do you want your agent agreement to last for the life of your book?
'Doesn't believe in contracts': Literary agent sues bestselling author (Angus Thompson, Sydney Morning Herald, 8-14-18) What happens when an agent doesn’t sign a contract with an author? Lawsuits. Bestselling Australian author Kate Morton is being sued by her former agent for breach of contract, even though a physical copy of this contract never existed. The agent asserts they came to a payment agreement over the phone, and thus that agreement must be upheld for the life of her current novels. H/T Authors Guild.
SFWA Model Author-Agent Contract (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America)
What to Look for in an Agent’s Contract (Janet Kobobel Grant, on Books&Such, 7-9-12)
Author-Agent Contracts (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 2-5-06)
Agency agreement (Wikipedia definition)
Literary Agent Contract (Literary Agent Undercover, series of eight articles)
What's an Author-Agent Agreement (agent Rachelle Gardner)
to the National Writers Union Preferred Literary Agent Agreement: Understanding the Author-Agent Relationship
(pdf, NWU)
The Agent Clause (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Deal Breakers 2012, The Business Rusch, 8-8-12).
How to Read a Book Contract – Who Decides What Contracts You Sign? (Passive Guy, 8-5-11). See also How to Read a Book Contract – Can I Ever Get Rid of My Agent? (3-15-12)
John Steinbeck's Family Files Complaint Against L.A. Agent ( Alex Ben Block, Hollywood Reporter, 10-10-14) The latest move in a 14-year legal battle over rights to control the works of the late author of 'Grapes of Wrath,' 'East of Eden' and other literary gems.
Switching Literary Agents: Two Agents Offer Advice (Sangeeta Mehta on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-28-18)
Ethics & the Literary Agent: What Rights Do Authors Have? (Sangeeta Mehta on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-30-17) By definition, literary agents are writers' representatives...
How to Fire Your Agent (Rachelle Gardner, agent)
The Agent Clause (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 8-8-12). The agent clause is the clause in a book publishing contract that says payments come to author through the agent. So what happens if you and your agent fall out? Rusch provides a roadmap to pitfalls common in this clause. Do your homework!

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Changing role of the literary agent

The Changing Role of the Literary Agent (Vicky Bijur, ASJA Monthly, Jan. 2014)
Jeff Hecht, Lasers, Death Rays, Quest for Ultimate Weapon (Jeff Hecht, Advance Copy, National Association of Science Writers) The story here is about how an agent persuaded the author to shift from a topic-oriented to a narrative-oriented book. A good agent is also smart about what works.
Alternative paths to publishing proliferate but the path for authors most likely to be lucrative is still the oldest one (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 2-23-15) "But even an exponential increase in the number of self-publishing successes or, now, in the number of authors going directly to publishers without an agent, doesn’t change the realities of book publishing. The big money almost always goes to the agented author whose work is sold to a big house. The rest of it is, from an overall industry perspective, still a sideshow."
The Changing Agent-Author Relationship (Jane Friedman, Digital Book World, 2-2-10)
Jane Friedman on how literary agents are adapting to survive (Jungle Red Writers, 9-3-10)
The Evolution of the Literary Agent (Jane Friedman, Writer's Digest, 8-31-10) Agents Wendy Keller, Paige Wheeler, Richard Curtis, and Scott Waxman talk about how major changes in publishing, in particular the growth of self-publishing, are changing the agent-author relationship.
The evolving role of agents (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 6-29-09) "When the book agent’s job, most of the time, was to find the biggest possible up-front payment for an author’s work, a straight commission deal made complete sense. With writer-pays options becoming not only more common and accessible, but more sensible as a commercial choice and, indeed, becoming part of the step-ladder to commercial success, it increasingly will not."...Arrangements "where the agent actually charges a fee for helping an author manage self-publishing options, are going to have to become more common in the future."

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Should you, the writer, hire an editor?

---Should you, the writer, hire an editor? Writer Beware's excellent links, including some of these:
---Should You Pay Someone to Edit Your Work? (Nathan Bransform, agent-turned-author, 10-5-09)
---Evaluating an agent's website (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 4-4-06)
---Should I Hire a Freelance Editor? (agent Rachelle Gardner, 3-25-10)
---Should You Hire a Professional Editor? (Jane Friedman, Writer Unboxed, 3-19-10)
---What Editors Do
---The Doctor Will See You Now (book doctor Lisa Rojany-Buccieri on what book doctors can and cannot do)
---What to Expect from a Professional Critique (Margot Finke)
---The Importance of Self-Editing (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware)
---7 Common Myths About Hiring a Freelance Editor for Your Book (Nancy Peske) If you must skim, catch the points in bold.
---See more such pieces on Writer Beware links.

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How and why to use beta readers

Beta Readers: Who, When, Why, and So What? ( Barbara Linn Probst on Jane Friedman's blog, 3-20-19) Excellent overview and practical insights. Rather than thinking of beta readers as a single group, or of beta reading as a single event, many people use different groups of readers (fellow writers and nonwriters, for example) at different points in their writing (early draft, revision stage, final version), and for different reasons. Read the comments, also.
What Is a Beta Reader and How to Find One (Fanni Sütő, PublishDrive, 2-15-18)
What is a beta reader and why do I need one? (Belinda Pollard, Small Blue Dog) and How to find a beta reader.
How to Find and Work with Beta Readers to Improve Your Book (Kristen Kieffer on Jane Friedman's blog, 1-18-16) Excellent, specific, concrete advice on how to get (and give) comments on both the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript.
Writers: Get the Right Kind of Feedback! (Molly Greene on what to look for in an editor or beta reader, at various stages -- development, redevelopment, consolidation). Excellent advice from writers' viewpoint.
What Are Beta Readers and Sensitivity Readers? An author's guide (Reedsy, 1-18-19) "In the software industry, programmers release “beta” versions of new programs that they get a select group of users to test. This way, any kinks can be worked out before it becomes available to the public." Beta readers in publishing are testing books. "If authors are not sure which aspects of their book are working (if any!), this is a chance to find out...." A beta reader is the opposite of an alpha reader ("the first person who reads and provides feedback on your manuscript, usually while it’s still a first draft," from the reader's perspective), a critique partner (reading with a writer's eye, pay attention to craft issues), or a fact checker (checking facts), or a sensitivity reader (reviewing "unpublished manuscripts with the express purpose of spotting cultural inaccuracies, representation issues, bias’, stereotypes, or problematic language").
Beta Reader Group (Goodreads)
How to find a beta reader (Belinda Pollard, Write, Edit & Publish Like a Pro, Small Blue Dog Publishing)
15 Places to Find Your Next Beta Reader (K.M. Weiland, Helping Writers Become Authors, 3-4-16) Where can you find a beta reader or critique partner, seven things to look for in a beta reader, and top recommended beta reader and critique groups for writers.
Briefing a Beta Reader: The Approach (Belinda Pollard, Write, Edit & Publish Like a Pro, Small Blue Dog Publishing) and Briefing a Beta Reader: Practical details
Complete Guide to Beta Readers: How to Find and Work with Early Reviewers to Improve Your Writing (Jason Brick, TCK Publishing)
Why, When and How to Beta Your Book. (The Writing Cooperative, 4-25-18) How to get the most out of beta readers.
How to Avoid Burning Out Beta Readers (Kevin T. Johns)

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How to protect yourself against
not-so-good agents

If you end up making a lot of money through deals they negotiate, they're going to probably be handling your money before you get it. You want an agent who is experienced, knows the ropes, and will get you what you're owed, among other things. Character counts. "Never assign your power of attorney to an agent," advises one author.
“But I’m not a lawyer. I’m an agent.” (David Simon, The Audacity of Despair, 3-18-19) The writer David Simon (The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street shares his experience with the movie- and television-industry practice of agencies packaging movies and television deals--forgoing their commission from their client (David Simon, in this case) as they assemble teams of talent a studio might need for a show (in this case for his book: Homicide: Life on the Street and being paid directly by the studio. David Simon suggested Barry Levinson to produce the show, and he wrote the book, but the agency, whose fiduciary duty should be to their client Simon, instead got paid a lot of money from the studio for getting the deal for the studio--got paid a lot more than Simon did. And wanted to do the same thing for Simon's other writing product: The Wire. Read Simon's piece to get the full story and be warned: Packaging does NOT favor the author. And agents and agencies who represent writers have a fiduciary duty NOT to increase their profits at the expense of the authors they represent.
Thumbs Down Agency List (Writer Beware, maintained by A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss)
How To Protect Yourself From Shady Literary Agents (Writer's Relief, Huffington Post, 9-19-12).
Preditors and Editors (agents and editors who are "not recommended")
Bad Agent (Jessica Faust, Bookends agency, 6-27-07).
Writer Beware on various types of agents to avoid, by category: Dishonest agents; Amateur, Marginal, and Incompetent Agents; Telling Questionable from Reputable; Agents Who Are Also Publishers; and more.
• One bad apple: She made a career out of scamming writers. These are the women of color who were her victims. (Shanon Lee, The Lily, 8-3-18) ‘I feel like I can’t trust anyone’ See also: Who is Anna March? (aka Delaney Anderson, Nancy Kruse, Nancy Lott) (Melissa Chadburn and Carolyn Kellogg, LA Times, 7-26-18) Scamming literary circles in Los Angeles, San Diego, Rehoboth Beach, Del., Montgomery County, MD, and nd Washington, D.C.
Bewares and Background Checks (Absolute Write's discussion group for questions, comments, and warnings about agents and publishers)
Agent Holly Root's twitter feed about "badly behaving agents". There's a difference between "bad at the job" and "bad for you." Clear boundaries and clear expectations are important. "There is no blacklist for leaving an agent who isn’t the right fit for whatever reason." (Including they couldn't sell your book.) See the Thread reader for that topic.
Literary Agents You Should Avoid: 3 Major Red Flags Writer's Relief, Huffington Post, 9-5-12)
Harper Lee Sues Agent She Says Tricked Her (Authors Guild story of Harper Lee suing "her former agent, Sam Pinkus, to recover royalties from To Kill a Mockingbird dating back to 2007, when he allegedly tricked her into signing over copyright to the classic novel as she was in an assisted living facility recovering from a stroke."
Fake literary agents target new authors (The Fiction Desk, 9-3-08)
The Truth About Literary Agents' Fees (Writers Beware, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, SFWA)
The Perils of Author Mills (Victoria Strauss) "Author mills aren’t as common as vanity publishers or amateur small presses (both of which also pose hazards for writers). But there are enough of them that writers need to be careful."

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Agents as Publishers--an accelerating trend and typically a conflict of interest. Here you can find opinions and write-ups on the trend:
Literary agents and the changing world of trade publishing (Mike Shatzkin, Shatzkin Files, 11-14-09). If authors start self-publishing, will agents become consultants? How will e-books change the agents' role?
Why don't agents want to play? Amazon flies a bunch to Seattle to find out (Richard Curtis, eReads, 11-11-10)
Agents Who Are Also Publishers
An Argument Against Agent-Publishers (editorial by literary agent Jason Allen Ashlock, Publishing Perspectives, 9-6-11). Ashlock asks, “Can an agent act in an author’s best interests when they are also acting as their publisher?” His conclusion: “No.”
Your Agent Should Not Be Your Publisher (Peter Cox, Redhammer, 6-8-11), as discussed by Mike Shatzkin in A debate across panels is coming at our London show on June 21 (Shatzkin Files 6-8-11)
Ed Victor sets up publishing imprint (Charlotte Williams, The Bookseller 5-10-11). It's starting in the UK.
More agents to explore publishing models (Charlotte Williams, The, 5-13-11) "Literary agents Curtis Brown and Blake Friedman have said they are planning to follow Ed Victor's move into publishing, after he announced an e-book and print-on-demand venture earlier this week."
How Agents Can Avoid Conflicts of Interest (Passive Guy, The Passive Voice, 5-14-11, a blog about disruptive changes and change agents in publishing). "I believe the current trend for agents to sign their clients to long-term publishing contracts with an in-house agency publisher is not a good idea for several reasons." See also Agents in Conflict
Literary Agencies as Publishers: An Accelerating Trend (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 5-17-11)
Literary agents and publishing: a conflict of interest? (Rob, The Fiction Desk, 5-14-11)

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How not to behave with/around literary agents

Cranky Agent Alert (Wendy Lawton, Books & Such, 10-2-12, on inappropriate query and pre-query behavior by authors--things NOT to do)
10 Ways to Annoy Literary Agents (Writer's Relief, 8-2-12)
Query Fail: How Not to Land a Literary Agent (Tara Lazar)
How Not to Fire Your Agent (Linda Konner, ASJA Monthly, Jue 2013)

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Landing the book deal
Helpful articles

About That Book Advance (Michael Meyer, NYTBR, 4-10-09) Changing realities over time. 'As a payment to be deducted from future royalties, an advance is a publisher’s estimate of risk. Figures fluctuate based on market trends, along with an author’s sales record and foreign rights potential...the current culture of blockbuster advances really took shape in the 1970s, when “hardcover publishing was becoming research and development for mass-market paperbacks,” said Peter Mayer, who started the trade paperback division at Avon Books and is now publisher of Overlook Press. “It was the hardcover houses who drove the increases by selling paperback rights.” ...Today, some publishers are experimenting with low or no advances. In exchange for low-five-figure advances, the boutique press McSweeney’s, founded by Eggers, shares profits with its authors 50-50, as does the new imprint Harper Studio, which offers sub-six-figure advances.' (This was published in 2009.)
Advice for Writers: Preparing Your E-Manuscript (Subversive Copy Editor, 7-5-10)
The Adventures of Comma Boy by Keith Cronin (a comic strip for aspiring writers, agents, publishers, and publishing fantasizers, featured in Publishers Marketplace. Comma Boy archives here.
Advocates, Addendums, and Sneaks oh my! (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, The Business Rusch, 5-4-11). Publishers give better contracts to authors with clout, lesser contracts to newbies; agents vary in how well they advocate for their authors. Be aware of what goes on.
Agents, Writers, and Editors: How does it all fit together (by ??, Inkwell Magazine)
The Art of the Pitch (Alan Rinzler's insider tips for preparing and delivering a winning pitch to an agent or editor at a writer's conference, The Book Deal, 3-29-10)
Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR) , professional organization of over 400 agents who represent both book authors and playwrights
Author-Agent Agreements (What's an Author-Agent Agreement and what should it cover?) by Rachelle Gardner
The Author-Agent Business Model by novelist Laura Resnick (on Novelists Inc. blog, 2-12-10). When things are going well, she's fine without an agent, and when things are going badly, she can’t count on an agent, so Resnick uses a literary lawyer to handle contracts.
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The Easily Overlooked Art of Agent Research (Jason Boog, GalleyCat, 9-24-08)
Ethics & the Literary Agent: What Rights Do Authors Have? (Sangeeta Mehta, editor, interviews agents Mary C. Moore and DongWon Song, on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-30-17) What should writers do if they feel that an agent isn’t honoring their obligations, contractual or otherwise? What's the best way to speak up? When it comes to queries, some agents have a “no response means no” policy. But many writers feel that they deserve some sort of answer within a reasonable amount of time, especially those who have researched the agent and followed the agent’s submissions guidelines. Apparently, plenty of good agents don’t respond to all queries. Authors: Be realistic: Agents are swamped (get 12 to 15 queries a day). And if a writer gets a "revise and resubmit" R&R, how long a wait is it to get a reaction? A bit of a reality check on how swamped agents who handle fiction are. Second part of the piece talks about what happens when an agent or author (or both) want to end an agent-author relationship. See also AAR Canon of Ethics (Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc.)
Evaluating an agent's website (Victoria Strauss, Writer Beware, 4-4-06)

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Five agents talk about their business (for YA Fantasy authors)
5 Reasons Agents Don’t Explain Their Rejections (agent Rachelle Gardner, guest posting on Books & Such, 2-21=13)
Frequently asked questions
---Frequently asked questions about agents – and answers (Association of Authors' Representatives, AAR)
---Publishing Secrets: Battle of the "UNs"--Unagented, unsolicited manuscripts (Jeff Herman)
---Everything you wanted to know about literary agents (Neil Gaiman's blog entry. Sample: "If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get."

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Going the Unagented Route--with Fiction (Nicole O'Dell, guest posting on Rachelle Gardner site)

How to Get Happily Published (Judith Applebaum)
How to Get Your Book Published (Jane Friedman, 6-12-17). One of Jane's many helpful articles on writing, publishing, self-publishing, marketing, platform building, and so on.
How to Write a Novel Synopsis (Jane Friedman, 9-16-15)
How to write the perfect synopsis (Tilly Bagshawe, Gingerbread, 11-2-17) Excellent tips. See also 5 Tips on How to Write a Synopsis (Courtney Carpenter, Writer's Digest, 2-12-12) "A synopsis conveys the narrative arc, an explanation of the problem or plot, the characters, and how the book or novel ends....It summarizes what happens and who changes from beginning to end of the story."

Indie Bound (a community of independent bookstores)

So you want to write a book (Sarah Wernick's excellent guide to basics)
Ten Factors to Consider When Writing Book Proposals (Dennis E. Hensley,
The Ten Most Common Reasons Book Proposals are Rejected — and What These Reasons Really Mean (Marcia Yudkin)
Title Z ($, track book sales)
The top 5 secrets to getting a book deal (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal)
What's Your Platform? Another Way of Asking, Who's Going to Read Your Book? (Kendra Bonnett, on Telling Her Stories)
Writing a book proposal, by Sarah Wernick (So You Want to Write a Book)

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24 Agents Who Want Your Work (Chuck Sambuchino, Writer's Digest 11-10-09)

Twitter handles
These are a little on the old side.
Best book editors on Twitter (Jason Boog, Adweek/GalleyCat, 3-30-11)
Best literary agents on Twitter (Jason Boog, Galley Cat, 4-8-11)
24 Twitter Accounts For Readers Who Think About Books All Day, Every Day (E. Ce Miller, Bustle, 4-14-16)
Twitter Hashtags Writers Should Follow When Seeking a Literary Agent (Diana Urban, 2-6-14)
Seventy-Eight Agents to Follow on Twitter (Poets & Writers list, July/Aug. 2017)
The best literary agents on Twitter (John Kremer's list)
KidLit/YA Editors on Twitter (Debbie Ridpath Ohi's @InkyElbows public list, Children's book/YA editors (strong interest in kidlit/YA), editorial assistants)
Thumbs Down Agency List (Writer Beware's list on Science Fiction Writers of America of agencies to avoid)
Twitter for Writers: 7 Quick Tips (Belinda Pollard)
10 Twitter Lists Every Author Should Follow (Wise Ink, 4-9-12) Some of these are a little out of date, obviously.
Who Reps Whom (QueryTracker, Helping authors find literary agents)
Writer Beware (A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss blog about scams involving agents, writing contests, and the like) Other resources on Writer Beware (warnings about amateur, marginal, and incompetent agents and MANY links useful for novices)
Your Rights As an Author (Nathan Bransford)

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Blogs about the book business
(by agents, authors, editors, and publishing experts)

A Book Inside. How to Write and Publish a Book. Author Carol Denbow on how to write a fiction, nonfiction book or novel; find a publisher or publishing option; and market your book for free. Tips and expert advice.
Advance Copy Backstories on books by members of the National Association of Science Writers. For this column, medical writer Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors--and writes these nifty cameos about the Q&A pieces.
Agent in the Middle (Lori Perkins, specializing in novels and erotica)
AgentQuery's blog rolls (blog rolls for blogs of agents, of editors, about PR& Marketing, being in the know generally, Book Reviews & Interviews, Digital Publishing, On Writing.
Alice's CWIM blog (from the editor of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, now moving her blog to SCBWI)
Ask Daphne (Kate Schafer Testerman -- teen chick lit, urban fantasy and magical realism, adventure stories, and romantic comedies)
Ask the Agent: Night Thoughts About Books and Publishing (Andy Ross)
Between the Lines (Books & Such Agency)
Book Cannibal (Cameron McClure on fiction)
••• The Book Deal (Alan Rinzler's blog for writers and book people on the strange ways of book publishing)
••• BookEnds LLC
BookSquare (Kassia Krozier’s blog--dissecting the publishing industry with love and skepticism, "thinking too much about books, technology, and people")
Book Square (Kassia Krozser, )
Brian O'Leary, Magellan Media (cutting edge blog with separate posts for magazine, book, and association publishing)
Brooklyn Arden (Cheryl Klein, children's books editor)
Building Books (hosted by Glenn Yeffeth of BenBella books)
Buried in the Slush Pile (an editor's blog about children's book agents and publishers)
Chip MacGregor (a Christian agent)
Dear Author (Jane Little, a romance review for readers). See post Author’s Rights When a Publisher Files Bankruptcy (6-24-07)
Deidre Knight (The Knight Agency)
Dr. Syntax (Peter Ginna of Bloomsbury Press)
Dystel & Goderich
Editorial Anonymous (blog of a children's book editor)
Editorial Ass
Et in arcaedia, ego (Jennifer Jackson)
Fine Print Literary Management
The Forest for the Trees(Betsy Lerner)
Galley Cat (Media Bistro blog about books and publishing)
Hartline (Joyce Hart)
JA Konrath
••• Janet Reid (about agenting and publishing)
Jennifer Laughran
Joe Wikert's Digital Content Strategies
Jonathan Lyons
Business Musings (Kristine Kathryn Rusch) (Mary Kole, representing children's literature)
Miss Snark (no longer posting, but lots of good stuff in this agent's blog archives)
••• Nathan Bransford(some read this former agent daily, when he was an agent; now he works for CNet and he's still one of the best bloggers; click on and read "The Essentials")
The Passive Voice Lawyer David Vandagriff's popular blog. Listen to designer Joel Friedlander's interview with him about how he started his blog as an a snarky anonymous "content curator" (especially interesting about disruptions that change publishing) and his posts about contracts.
Preditors and Editors (many resources here for sci-fi writers) -- in transition!
The Profitable Publisher (Marion Gropen, on independent publishing)
••• Pub rants(Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary, based in Denver--one of the best blogs). See also her informative Agenting 101 series, which includes such entries as Deal Points, Grant of Rights, and entries about bonuses, royalties, payout, options, author warranties, royalty statements (several on this!), out of print sales threshold, term of contract, and no-compete clauses.
POD-dy Mouth (stopped blogging in 2007 but you can read backlist)
Publishers Marketplace blogs (21 of them, on various topics)
Publishers Weekly columns and blogs
••• Query Shark (study great examples of how to revise a query so it works -- Janet Reid's other site)
••• Rants and Ramblings (Rachelle Gardner, good general advice; specializes in Christian/inspirational)
Redlines and Deadlines
The Rejecter (an assistant at a literary agency, who rejects bad query letters)
Richard Nash (the #1 Twitter User Changing the Shape of Publishing)
The Scholarly Kitchen (what's hot in academic publishing--some fascinating articles)
••• The Shatzkin Files (Mike Shatzkin's smart, knowledgeable, and deeply thoughtful blog about trends and issues in the publishing industry, for The Idea Logical Company)
••• The Swivet (Colleen Lindsay, an unrepentant nerd and literary agent with FinePrint Literary Management, apparently on a blogging break)
25 Twitter Accounts to Help You Get Published (Online Education Database, 11-6-12)
Upstart Crow. Check their Literary Toolbox,especially the Writer's Bookshelf (especially on book illustrations)
Writer Beware!

Seventy-Eight Agents to Follow on Twitter (Poets & Writers, July/Aug. 2017)
Best Literary Agents on Twitter (Jason Boog, GalleyCat, 4-8-11)
Networking on Twitter: How to interact with agents,writers and stand out from the crowd. (Claribel Ortega, 1-2-18) and I Got My Agent on Twitter! 10 Tips for Online Pitching Contests like #DVpit & #Pitmad (9-6-16)
How Literary Agents Find Talent on Twitter (Daniel Vahab, Mashable, 6-15-12)
Twitter Hashtags Writers Should Follow When Seeking a Literary Agent (Diana Urban, 2-6-14)

See also Book Publishing (Traditional)

A few special features:

Writing Advice Database (Nathan Bransform, agent-turned-author, with solid advice on a wide range of subjects)
Choosing a freelance editor: What you need to know (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal)
Formatting Your Manuscript (Nathan Bransford)
How a Book Gets Published (Nathan Bransford)
What Do Literary Agents Do? (Nathan Bransford)
How to Find a Literary Agent (Nathan Bransford)
How to Write Query Letters ... or, really, how to revise query letters so they actually work (Query Shark, Janet Reid's specifically query-helpful site)
Frequently asked questions, answered by Nathan Bransford

Top Literary Agents for.... This series (compiled in 2007, by the blog Literary Agent News) is far from perfect. Caveat emptor. I'll add comments as I get them from readers: Top Literary Agents for Memoirs, for literary fiction, for true crime books ("does not include the #1 agent in the genre, Jane Dystel, or anyone at Dystel Goderich; and Wendy Keller agency says thanks, but they've never sold a true crime book"); for horror novels, for mystery novels, for science fiction novels, for fantasy novels, for young adult novels, for romance novels, for self-help books, for travel books, and for business books. Tell me if these links are, or are not, useful. For more up-to-date information, check out the sites profiles of individual agents.

Five agents talk about their business (for YA Fantasy authors)
5 Reasons Agents Don’t Explain Their Rejections (agent Rachelle Gardner, guest posting on Books & Such, 2-21=13)
Frequently asked questions
---Frequently asked questions about agents – and answers (Association of Authors' Representatives, AAR)
---Publishing Secrets: Battle of the "UNs"--Unagented, unsolicited manuscripts (Jeff Herman)
---Everything you wanted to know about literary agents (Neil Gaiman's blog entry. Sample: "If you're writing fiction, the True Secret Answer is "get an offer." If you've got an offer, you can get an agent. If you don't have an offer, you don't want the kind of agent you're likely to get."

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Going the Unagented Route--with Fiction (Nicole O'Dell, guest posting on Rachelle Gardner site)

How to Get Happily Published (Judith Applebaum)

How to Get Your Book Published (Jane Friedman, 6-12-17). One of Jane's many helpful articles on writing, publishing, self-publishing, marketing, platform building, and so on.

How to Write a Novel Synopsis (Jane Friedman, 9-16-15)

Indie Bound (a community of independent bookstores)

An Editor (Who Helped 'The Help') and an Agent Talk About Revision. Listen to Alexandra Shelley (editor of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help") and literary agent Eleanor Jackson discussing revision, publishing, and how to know when a book is 'finished' (on She Writes Radio). Too often writers send their drafts out before they are ready to submit. Good advice.

Before You Write That Book . . . (Barbara Ehrenreich's blog, 3-19-07) Realistic advice from an interesting and worthwhile writer. (If you're like me, you'll wander through the other discussions on her blog. She writes about Real Problems and Real Life.)
Building a Memoir Writing Platform: What Is Your Message? Part 1 and Part 2 (Kendra Bonnett, 2-28-10, on Women's Memoirs). What's your message is part of figuring out who is your audience, which means who will buy your books! A very helpful discussion.
Building Your Author Platform (links to excellent advice on the subject)

Choosing a freelance editor: What you need to know (Alan Rinzler, 7-2-09). Particularly good advice.
The confessions of a semi-successful author (Jane Austen Doe, Salon, 3-22-04) About the "noir" side of publishing.

Helpful Tips from a Harvard Writer's Conference (Livia Blackburn, A Brain Scientist's Take on Writing) Her thoughts after attending Publishing Books, Memoirs, and Other Creative Nonfiction, a three day course sponsored by Harvard Medical School.
Hooks that snag great book deals (Alan Rinzler, The Book Deal, 1-17-10) "The hook — those critical initial sentences of a query letter from an author, or the opening of the book proposal itself — are the first and most important words that agents and acquiring editors read."
How a First-Time Author Got a 7-Figure Book Deal (John Romaniello, on The Tim Ferriss Show, 4-15-13, explains how a first-time author can get a 7-figure book advance.)
How to Format a Book Manuscript: 10 Tips Your Editor Wants You To Know (Blake Atwood, The Write Life, 3-20-17)
How to format your manuscript (Nathan Bransford, 2-14-17)
How to Get a Book Deal with World's Largest Publisher by Timothy Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek (not a typical book or author -- a super-self-promoter!)
How to Get Your Book Published (Jane Friedman's blog post + 300+ responses, 6-12-17) There are three paths to getting your book published; here she talks about the traditional approach. An excellent overview.
How to Write a Bestselling Book This Year — The Definitive Resource List and How-To Guide (Tim Ferriss, 2-4-14) f you want to write a bestselling book, don't reinvent the wheel.
How to Write an Effective Book Description (Richard Ridley, CreateSpace 3-31-11)
How to write a nonfiction book proposal (Nathan Bransford, 5-9-18) Platform: Do you have the credibility to write this book? Do you have an audience you can draw upon to promote the book and a plan for activating it?

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No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov (David Oshinky's story about Knopf's rejection pile, NY Times, 9-9-07)
Publishers Lunch , a free daily sample from Publishers Marketplace
Publishers Marketplace ($25 a month, for more detailed news of book deals, and archives)
The Publishing Connection (helps writers connect with editors, agents, and publishers)
Publishing will always need its gatekeepers (Robert McCrum, The Guardian, 3-1-18) It's all very well for the writers, but where will editors and publishers fit into this brave new digital world? Yes, digital technology is transforming book publishing, but writers will "still need intermediaries: the job description will change, but the function remains broadly the same."

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