Questions Literary Agents Are Frequently Asked | #AskAgent | iWriterly


Heya literary nerds, I’m Meg LaTorre Snyder
and on this episode of iWriterly, I’m here to talk to you about F.A.A.A.Q. Frequently asked #AskAgent Questions. As many of you know, Twitter has become a
hot spot for book publishing industry professionals to tweet out advice, and host a number of
giveaways and #AskAgent sessions. For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter,
select hashtags can be used while tweeting, which make it easier to search adn follow
specific conversations. One of the popular hashtags for literary agents
answering live questions is none other than #AskAgent. Leading up to my query box opening, I hosted
a number of #AskAgent sessions, and I noticed a lot of writers had a lot of the same questions
and made a lot of the same mistakes. So before we start jumping into what #AskAgent
is, let’s lay a foundation of what #AskAgent is not. #AskAgent is NOT a time to pitch your work
to literary agents. Save those pitches for Twitter contests and
conferences. #AskAgent sessions are NOT a time for manuscript-specific
questions. Instead, gear your questions toward industry-specific
inquiries, such as what to include in a plot summary in your query, how to tackle a story
with multiple POVs in a query, and so on. However, be careful that you don’t ask questions
in a session that can be easily answered by Google. #AskAgent isn’t a time to complain about
a specific literary agent, editor, or about the state of the industry. Yup, we know the industry is tough. But in all things, be kind. We do remember. Another tricky thing for #AskAgent sessions
is they seem to crop up all the time. If you see an agent tweeting out they’re open
to #AskAgent questions, double check when they made that tweet. A lot of times writer’s will tweet out questions
in response to #AskAgent sessions that happened a day, two days, three days, a week, a month
ago. Don’t want to do that. Make sure your questions are timely and within
the timeframe that #AskAgent sessions happen. Alright, so now, to the reason why you’re
all here… Frequently Asked #AskAgent Questions What are the ideal word counts for certain
age groups and genres? The answer, I wrote a blog on this topic! Check out some of
the links below. If I met an agent at a conference or through
a workshop, where should I mention this in the query? Usually, that information is best placed at
the front of your query. You also want to mention any industry referrals
or requested materials at the beginning of your query. Is it OK if this is my first novel? Answer? Absolutely! Literary agents are constantly looking for
debut authors with awesome talent and awesome stories. Make sure to edit and polish that manuscript
thoroughly. We should not be seeing any first drafts of
the manuscript. At this point, you probably should have edited
it somewhere around four, five, six, a lot of times. Any tips on how to make my query stand out
in the slush pile? Definitely! I wrote a blog on this in Writer’s Digest. Check out some more links below. Quick pause to our Q&A, as you may have noticed
so far, some of my answers are simply check out this link, in which case you do want to
be mindful of any agents hosting #AskAgent sessions, a lot of people will write blogs
for different industries, or maybe they have their own podcast, or YouTube Channel, like
iWriterly. Make sure you check some of those out before
the #AskAgent, um, Ask Agent Sessions. Because, a lot of your questions will be answered
there. How long should my query letter be? Similar to cover letters, queries should be
one page in length, sometimes less. What is the best way to format a query? While there’s no single “best” way to
write a query, I’ve found that a lot of writers who write excellent queries tend to
follow this breakdown: Dear [name of agent]
First paragraph through the third paragraph are all Plot summary Fourth paragraph is why you’re querying this
specific agent, along with the wordcount, genre, and age group. The final paragraph is your Bio and writing
credentials. And follow that up with a signature. Any recommendations on the plot summary/story
blurb in a query? Why, yes! Check out more links below! If I’ve submitted to another agent at your
agency who declined and have since edited my manuscript, can I submit to you? This is a tricky question. The short answer is, if you’ve done a MAJOR
revision to your manuscript, and it is super super edited, and super super sparkley, yes. However, it it’s just a brief editing of sentences
and not a really big rehaul of your story, then the answer is no. But be carefule, simultaneous submissions
to multiple agents at the same agency is NOT allowed. In general, you must select one literary agent
per agency to submit to. If I’ve submitted to a literary agent at
your agency who declined, can I submit to you? I can’t speak to all agencies, but in short,
a rejection from one agent is a rejection from all. So this would not include any writers that
have done a major major rehaul on their manuscript. Can I submit different manuscripts to multiple
agents at the same agency? So, to start, you should only submit one manuscript
per query letter. You do not want to query multiple manuscripts
within the same query letter. In addition, you do not want to query two
different literary agents in general, at the same agency. Should one agent decline one manuscript, you
can then query a separate literary agent with a different manuscript. What do you represent? Check out more links below! As you guys are probably seeing, um, there
are tons and tons of resources online, so make sure that you guys do your research before
asking some of these questions. Are you interested in a series? Of course. However, remember that you want to make a
literary agent fall in love with the first manuscript first. If the literary agent doesn’t love that first
book, they not going to be interested in reading (and therefore representing) an entire series. For fantasy and science fiction, do authors
provide their own maps and diagrams? If not, who makes them? This one’s kind of tricky. So, in the initial submission, the author
would typically submit them. Should the book be sold, and obviously you
received literary representation, then it would be professionally done. No need to go crazy and create these fancy
maps and things for your initial submission to a literary agent. Usually a vague map is helpful, but not exactly
necessary. If I had my novel professionally edited, should
I mention that in my query? Sure! When pitching to agents at a conference, what
are some key points to cover to make a good impression? The first thing I like to recommend, is remember,
agents are people too. First and foremost, be yourself. In the pitch itself, get right to the meat
of the story. Focus on the plot and how your protagonist
ties into the plot. If an agent gives you a personal rejection
and doesn’t say anything except, you’ll get an agent soon. Does that mean they didn’t see anything wrong? It depends! It might mean that your story was well written,
but not for them. It could be that they represent writers that
write in a similar style, or have a similar story. Or it could be that your work or your manuscript
is really close, but is in need of additional editing. And obviously, it could mean a lot of other
things, but those are some of the examples. Alright, A Few Additional #AskAgent Insiders If you’re unsure about a specific literary
agent’s submission guidelines, check their individual bio pages. As I mentioned, in some of our previous iWriterly
videos, these bio pages will list sometimes more specific or different guidelines than
the general submission guidelines page. These pages will answer most if not all of
your questions so be careful asking some of the specific submission guideline preferences
in the #AskAgent sessions. As I mentioned before, check if a literary
agent has a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, or some kind of outlet where they offer tips
and advice for the publishing industry. These are excellent places to get some of
your #AskAgent questions answered, for free! Don’t forget to like or subscribe to your
favorite outlets, the more feedback we get, the more insiders you get. Do your research. #AskAgent sessions are not a time to forego
research. Remember, Google first, and then bring some
awesome insightful questions to the #AskAgent sessions. And last, but not least, be careful to ask
for literary references to someone else who represents a certain age group or genre in
the industry. In general, this is the type of research you
should be doing yourself. Thanks for tuning into this episode of iWriterly
where we talked about F.A.A.A.Q. Frequently Asked #AskAgent Sessions. I’m your host Meg LaTorre Snyder, and if you
liked what you saw, subscribe, like, comment, tell me what you want to hear about next time,
and I think that’s it. Keep Writing! Keep Writing. Fourth Pada… Paa… Stuff… *Sighs*
I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know what…. *Sighs*
I’m just going to say, I’m just going to say something else… Uh, Nope, ut uh. *Sighs*
At your ages, agestry? Who? What? Blah La La. Hallelujah!

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