Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two Places at Once (and a lecture from a Literary Agent)

I can be such a dolt when it comes to the Internet. Something happens, I'm a part of something, and I start talking about it like it's the greatest thing since pumpkin spice lattes. That being said, yesterday, I was notified about a live broadcast of a talk being given on the campus of my university. I'm an online student, which makes my commute to New Hampshire (where said university is located) much faster. One of the writing professors had Melissa Flashman, a literary agent with Trident Media Group, come and speak to his class. He was kind enough to put it up online for anyone interested. (Thus, I was sitting outside of my loft in Georgia and watching a lecture in New Hampshire. Two places at once. My nerdy self proudly declared on Facebook that I had a new superpower :D Don't brought me joy.)

Most of what she had to say I've heard before, either from other agents or through reading blogs that deal with submissions and agents and all manner of important things. The major things I took away from her talk was her encouragement to writers and her insistence that "fiction is a matter of taste". In other words, if your query is turned down by an agent, don't despair: it is more than likely a case of the agent isn't interested in your topic.

Agents are people too (no really, they are!) and they are subject to the same likes and dislikes we as humble want-to-be-published-authors are. We read what we like and turn our noses up at what we don't. Guess what? So do they. Because your dream agent turned down your work doesn't mean it isn't good. It simply means they weren't interested in fairy zombie frogs at the moment. But here's the secret: someone else may be! The key to all this is finding the agent who is most likely to be interested in what you're writing about.

And how, pray tell, do we do that? She had some info into that as well. Her biggest tip on querying agents was to go through the books you enjoy reading, the books that are most like the story you just finished. See who the author thanks. Their agent is always there. If they aren't named in the book, look the author up online and you're bound to find their agent. Then, when your book is as polished as it's going to get from your hands, query those agents. Add a line in your query that states "I read THIS GREAT BOOK by THIS GREAT AUTHOR, whom you represent. My story is similar and I think you'll enjoy it." Something to that effect.

I don't know about you, but I found this very encouraging. Sometimes, it helps to hear things we may already know from the experts themselves. I had heard all this before, but hearing it from the mouth of an actual literary agent made me take a deep breath and realize that there really is hope for me, for you, for every published author hopeful out there.

Happy Thursday and dream on!


  1. Great post. I <3 finding new blogs that are made of neato keen things.

    From a newb follower :)

  2. Great advice! And I love the idea of being in two places at once. :) Great superpower in my opinion.

  3. Thanks for the post!

    I used to look up the people listed in acknowledgments just for fun, to see who some of my favorite authors knew; until I started writing, I never actually thought about querying them. I haven't tried (yet), but I keep them in mind.

  4. That's such great encouragement! Reading is always subjective. I may have to write a book about fairy zombie frogs now. :)

  5. Hi Kelley! Thanks for following :D Always happy to meet a fellow blogger!

    Hello Janet! I've been told before that I have super powers, but this is a new one. I may take to practicing it. It could come in handy until we figure out how to portkey!

    Hi Eagle! Somewhere, I heard someone mention looking up who an author thanks and using that as a help in finding an agent but I had forgotten that advice. I was glad to hear it again :D Happy Friday!

    Hello Meredith! I think you should! And when you finish, I'd love to be the first person, in the history of ever, to read a tale about FZFs :)


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.