One Writer’s Journey

September 15, 2017

Looking for an Agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 6:43 am
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mswlAre you looking for an agent?  One of the best ways to find out what agents want is to explore the hashtag #MSWL on Manuscript Wish List Day.  The most recent #MSWL Day was Tuesday, 9/12.

I have to admit that I started out with good intentions.  Since it was Tuesday, I didn’t have yoga so I popped over to Twitter several times to see what various agents and editors had posted.  The easiest way to do this is the search #MSWL and then just click on the Twitter bird to add the newest tweets to the top of the feed.

The first time I popped by there were 40 or so posts.  Several of them weren’t terribly specific – just agents reminding you to go by the MSWL site and check their listing.  Honestly, I can see how this makes sense.  For many agents, these listings are incredibly thorough.  You get what the agency likes, what they want to see, recent favorite books and movies and more.  I saved a short list of names to check out.

Then I got busy writing.  The next time I popped by there were almost 70 new tweets.  I skimmed them and copied out the ones that overlap by own work.  The next time I came back, there were between 150 and 200 new tweets.  (help)

At that point, I decided that I better spend some serious time with the submission that is due a week from today.  I’ve worked on my chapter and outline for two days, popping back over to Twitter on Thursday.

By Thursday I know that the agents and editors have had their say.  Instead of searching “#MSWL,” I got a bit more specific.  First I searched “MSWL PB.”  That gave me 8 listings.  Yes, there were a lot more than that but there were 8 that describe my work.  Then I searched “#MSWL nonfiction.” Again, I narrowed down the search results to (drum roll) 8 listings.

One of the things that I noticed on #MSWL Day was the number of agents asking people to take their time to submit.  Make sure your work is ready to go.  Don’t get in a kerfuffle and send in something that isn’t ready just because you saw a tweet.

If you’re looking for an agent, pop on over to Twitter and do a search.  Don’t forget to check out anyone that intrigues you.  I’m sure the majority of agents that post are legit but, as G-ma used to say, use your head and be careful.  And, good luck finding the help you need to get your work into the hands of young readers!



March 8, 2017

Query Letters: Connecting with the agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:04 am
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A query letter is a business letter.  Check.  That’s easy and straightforward enough that most of us get it.

A query letter is also the writer’s opportunity to connect with the agent.  But remember, it is still a business letter.

Did you hear the agent speak at a conference?  Then say so.  “When I heard you speak at the Mashed Mangoes SCBWI conference, your wish list included picture books about tropical fruit.  Enclosed…”  In much the same way I’ve reminded agents that we had dinner together as fellow conference speakers.

In much the same way, you should also let the agent know if your manuscript is a good match for a recent #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) post on Twitter or their profile listing on the Manuscript Wish List web site.  Just be sure to keep is short and simple.  “On March 2, 2017, your blog post included a call for …”  “Your February 22, 2017 #MSWL tweet …” You don’t have to quite them word for word.  Just mentioned the post, tweet or whatever.  This will let the agent know why you have chosen them and that you aren’t sending your work to every agent in the SCBWI directory.

But keep it business like.  If the agent likes dogs and you have a canine manuscript, say so but don’t gush on-and-on about man’s best friend.  If the agent tweeted about Firefly and you have a manuscript with the same feel, say so without confessing your undying love for Nathan Fillion or Gina Torres.

Loved her hair?  That’s awesome.  But keep it to yourself.

Think he has great taste in messenger bags?  Cool!  But don’t mention it.

You want to make a connection but you don’t want to come off stalker-ish, creepy or just plain strange.  I know, I know.  Most of us don’t need to be told that but my job at one conference was to follow the editor to the restroom and make sure no one bothered her while she was doing her business.  Yep.  I was a bathroom bouncer.

Make that connection but be professional.  As Cobra Bubbles would say in Lilo and Stitch, “Do I make myself clear?”


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