Monday, August 29, 2011

The Great-WAIT Agent Search

I just finished reading Writers Digest’s newest mailing and it’s all about AGENTS!

Since I’ve been going through that search myself over the past few months, I thought I’d share a little from Writers Digest with my own thoughts sprinkled in between.
Before you read this post though, you should REALLY check out Sarah Forgrave’s blog for her spectacular news that DIRECTLY relates to my post J

Though there are fabulous articles throughout the  October issue of Writers Digest, one of the most fascinating articles was the Get An Agent – Submission Workshop.
Within this article, Literary Agent Kristin Nelson went through the first few paragraphs of several submissions and discussed why she ‘stopped reading’ each one.

Here are the highlights:

1.       Too Much Dialogue – What? I thought dialogue was a good thing. It is – but dialogue alone is not going to impress an agent/editor. MEANINGFUL dialogue is the key. Dialogue that builds the story and the characters. For the first submission, Kristin says that she thinks the author is ‘simply starting the story in the wrong place.”

2.       Overuse of Description – ouch! I LOVE using description. How can that be wrong? – According to Kristin, too much description can pull the reader out of the story. It’s the whole getting lost in the ‘trees’ analogy, it seems. Kristin says “Less is always more when it comes to descriptive writing.”

3.       Lack of Tension – yep, I get this one! Basically, the ‘why should I keep reading’ question.
       One thing we must always ask ourselves is:  “Am I giving the reader a NEED to turn the page?” “Am I making the reader ask question? Making him/her care about my characters? Feeling the first few paragraphs with enough uncertainty, humor, or suspense that the reader MUST keep reading?

Personally, this process has been humbling for me- but a great learning tool too. Most of the time, I do not receive anything more than a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ letter. But on the few occasions I have received more, the agent has given me valuable information to help me grow as a writer.

Is it discouraging?

Is it frustrating?

Does it make me want to throw in the towel?
Er…for a few minutes (or hours) it might – but then I realize if I can’t handle the heat, I shouldn’t write.

Besides, God’s got a perfect fit out there for me. Someone who will fall in love with my quirky writing style, my various array of ideas, and will have a ‘vision’ for my writing future.
My goal: Become a better writer.

I want an agent who will help me get there.

What about you? Why do you want to find an agent?
If you have an agent, what is something that you have learned from him/her? Or something you particularly appreciate about him/her?

pictures courtesy of:


Anonymous said...

I agree Pepper. Like you say, I wouldn't want something other than my BEST work going out to the public and agents are there to help you get that or stop you from putting something out that might not reach your very best writing.

Thanks for the post!

Beth K. Vogt said...

I have a wonderful agent. What I appreciate most about her is that she "gets" me. She believes in my writing. She goes to bat for me when things need to be talked out with the editor. It's nice to not feel like I'm alone in this big, bad writing world--I've got an ally.

Joanne Sher said...

I'm looking for an agent, and I want one who completely believes in my book and will help me to make it the best it can be (LOL and sell it too - bonus, yanno?). I think I've queried 10 or so - about half I got a "no" from, and several I got no response (those were ones that said if you don't hear from us by such and such a date, see it as a no). Got great feedback from one.

Frustrated some, but plugging away. God's timing!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Pepper. :)

I'm still very new to this agent thing, so I'm feeling my way around. I like what Beth said, though...I've already discovered that an agent can help us learn the "why" behind those rejections, which is a huge help when we crave that specific feedback.

And I think you do a beautiful job with description! It was the biggest strength I noticed in your writing (among many others). :) You did a great job of presenting it in a way that sucked me deeper into the story instead of pulling me out.

Casey said...

Great points, Pepper! I know you are going to find the perfect agent for you. It's gonna happen--and I better be one of the first to know. ;-) LOL!

Pepper said...

Thanks for stopping by. And hopefully our 'best work' will only continue to improve as we grow in our writing skills.

Whew... I have A LOT to learn :-)

Pepper said...

I want an agent like YOURS. Totally.
I want someone who believes in me and loves my writing.
I think you should do a guest post for us!!

Pepper said...

I'm walking that road along with you!
Our perseverance. God's timing!

Pepper said...

Just sayin'
And I'm SOOOOOOO happy, happy for you!
And Wendy!
well, any other Alley Cats who might be on the Agent track ;-)

Thank you for your kind words - and the next best thing to having my own agent, is to be able to celebrate with people I respect so much!

Pepper said...

No worries, Case.
You already know I have a big mouth :-)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Oh, no...can't tell Casey first. Tell all the Alley Cats first....meeeeeoooooowwwww.
Great point.
It helps me see that an agent is a strong advocate for us. We want to find the right person who is willing to be our partner. On the other hand, I need to be the right person for the agent if I expect them to do their job well.

Mark said...

All super valid points and ones I've grappled with myself. Thanks for the tips:)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Oh, Pepper, did you write this post specifically for me today? :) I've had so many ups and downs in the agent hunt, particularly in the past year, it's hard to keep being encouraged. But I know that the agent God has for me, and his timing, is perfect, and it makes the waiting (and the ups and downs) a little easier. Thanks for this post!

Pepper said...

Know how ya feel!
I guess, in this case, we're looking for a true 'agent from God' :-)

Keli Gwyn said...

I have an agent who saw promise in my manuscript even though my story had serious problems and was willing to help me make the sorely needed changes. She really knows her stuff and helped me get the story to a marketable stage. I'll be forever grateful to her for that.

I'm sooo happy to be celebrating with Sarah and Wendy and hope I'm happy dancing with more of the Alley Cats soon.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I'm so not ready for an agent. I have so much to learn and so much writing to do before I would consider myself ready. When will that be? I have no idea, but I hope when that time comes, I will be ready to handle the rejections. :)