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Book Country 'Ask an Agent' Blog Series!
Janet Umenta, Book Country Assistant
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 9:59 AM
Joined: 4/7/2014
Posts: 142

Hi everyone!

Post any question you would like to ask an agent here. Thanks! happy


Mimi Speike
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 12:54 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

I have read that agents are far too busy to pick through the offerings on these sites, yet several people here have announced that an agent contacted them after reading them on here. Which situation is closer to reality?
Janet Umenta, Book Country Assistant
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 1:50 PM
Joined: 4/7/2014
Posts: 142

Interesting question, thank you!
Ian Nathaniel Cohen
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 3:50 PM

Do agents who represent historical fiction typically represent historical adventure fiction?  (Particularly non-YA swashbucklers.)  From what I've seen from agents who represent historical fiction, the works they tout on their websites are mostly romances and dramas.  Most of the agents I've come across who represent historical adventure fiction specifically are only interested if it's YA. 


Am I just finding the wrong HF agents, or should I be looking to market to agents who represent thrillers instead? 

--edited by Ian Nathaniel Cohen on 7/1/2014, 4:37 PM--

Mimi Speike
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 7:09 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

My book is a piece of arch humor, flamboyant in style and quasi-historical in substance. It is not a neat, known genre. I am looking for advice on who might be likely to consider a character-driven goofball adventure with literary inclinations. Does such a service exist?


--edited by Mimi Speike on 7/2/2014, 9:16 PM--

Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 4:45 PM
Joined: 10/15/2013
Posts: 78

I really like your first question Mimi, and I'll be honest it's one I've wondered (and dreamed of) since joining.  You hear the rumours but wonder how true they are.
Mimi Speike
Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 2:22 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

Not too many folks are jumping in here, so I don’t feel too bad about asking another question.


My thing is odd. (Tristram Shandy meets Beatrix Potter begins to describe it.) I'm a graphic artist. I'll try to court interest with visuals. I will create a paper-doll of my wise-guy Elizabethan cat, with a blurb on the back, like they did on early advertising, to mail to agents, publishers, etc. Do you think this strategy might get me a look-at?


Hey! Animals In Pants! That’s my genre! A venerable one it is, too. Paper-dolls of my smart-cookie critters have to be a part of my fun. I insist on it. I am an antique-paper-toy collector, and full of ideas.


Anyone sick of hearing from me? Get your asses in gear. The Lord, or else the Flying Spaghetti Monster, my deity of choice, helps those who help themselves. So I've heard.


--edited by Mimi Speike on 7/4/2014, 12:33 AM--

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 3:08 PM
What would an agent want to hear in a five-minute verbal pitch?
Andrea Murray
Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 5:27 PM
I'm writing a series. Should I query book two if I've self-published book one?
Robin Gregory
Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 5:49 PM
Joined: 3/1/2014
Posts: 4

Are agents becoming interested in representing non-traditional, that is to say, independent or self-published works?

If so, what could an author expect from them?




D J Lutz
Posted: Friday, July 4, 2014 11:50 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 130

I am using QueryTracker.net to research agents and what they are currently accepting. I noticed some agents are members of AAR; others are not. How beneficial to the writer is an agent's affiliation with AAR?
Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, July 4, 2014 2:59 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

I have never queried. What is the etiquette? (Simultaneous approaches, waiting periods, etc.)



--edited by Mimi Speike on 7/4/2014, 11:35 PM--

Janet Umenta, Book Country Assistant
Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 11:26 AM
Joined: 4/7/2014
Posts: 142

Hi everyone,


We just posted Part I of our "Ask an Agent" blog series! See if Lucy Carson answered your question! 



Next week, we will have another "Ask an Agent," so keep your questions coming.



Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 3:39 PM



I've self-published three novels, going back to 2008, and my books have been a Spur winner and a Spur finalist. I realize that an agent's job is changing and everyone has a different approach. But I'd still like to ask: What can an agent do for a self-published author that I can't do for myself?



Jaycee Ford
Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 3:02 PM
Joined: 4/25/2013
Posts: 17

Would agents be typically open to self published works, or perhaps, an author who is interested in hybrid publishing?
Danielle Bowers
Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 7:32 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 280

My Ask an Agent question:


In today's market authors are very involved with promoting their work via Twitter and Facebook.  When looking over a query, do agents look at the author too and evaluate their networks?  Does this have any weight?

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014 9:37 AM

Some of the best, catchiest writing in my book is a bit of an amble in--the kind of thing that could be broken out and submitted around as a short story, but does not work as an opening chapter. When querying an agent, is it ever okay to submit work that is not from the first three chapters/first fifty pages? If this is ever okay, is it smart to highlight what you've done? 


Additionally, are comps always necessarily "imagine Author #1 written by Author #2" format? Might one advise referring to extraliterary genres or media, such as visual arts or music? 


Finally: say you've achieved little public attention in your book's genre, but you've worked writing journalism, grant proposals, or other technical or nonliterary work: best to mention in your brief query letter bio, or excise? 


Thanks very much.




Mimi Speike
Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014 8:08 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

I have read that Kirkus was sold, and that it now offers reviews for a fee. Are those reviews of the same integrity as the ones prepared for their catalog? Does the name Kirkus mean what it did? I should think that a good review from them would be a powerful marketing tool. Do you agree?


--edited by Mimi Speike on 7/12/2014, 12:13 AM--

Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014 3:44 PM
Joined: 6/18/2014
Posts: 2

Is there a cozy mystery agent who could explain prologues to me for that specific genre?  Are they "out"? My favorite currently published authors use them and some don't introduce the protagonist until the first chapter.  Thank you!
C.M. Rivers
Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014 5:04 PM
Joined: 2/28/2014
Posts: 7

Is there such a thing as a poet requiring an agent to seek out the right publisher for a volume of poems?
Angela Martello
Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014 5:57 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394



I had done a couple of rounds of querying agents a couple of years ago. I admit, the books (I wrote a science fiction trilogy; I'm not a published fiction author) weren't really ready for prime time then. I've been doing a lot of rewriting and revising and just good ol'fashioned editing and am wondering if it's okay to re-query agents I had approached in the past.



Steve Yudewitz
Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014 10:29 PM
Joined: 4/28/2011
Posts: 24


Assuming the query letter generates your interest and the writing is strong enough in the chapters you see (and yes, that's a big assumption happy), what kind of things do you look for in the writer? Or is the writer somewhat irrelevant when it comes to closing the deal with the publisher?





Janet Umenta, Book Country Assistant
Posted: Friday, July 18, 2014 9:51 AM
Joined: 4/7/2014
Posts: 142

Hi everyone!


Part II of 'Ask an Agent' is up! Literary agent Melissa Sarver White answered your questions about the verbal pitch, query etiquette, how to query a book if you've self-published before, and what the AAR means for authors. 



Mimi Speike
Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:06 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

I am trying to create a short pitch. In my piece, nuts-and-bolts plot is secondary. Arch humor is key. My bare-bones summary would be: A know-it-all cat cavorts through loony episodes on a grand tour of an alternative history sixteenth century Europe. Not too compelling, I fear.  


How about: Sly! - starring Sylvester Boots, a wise-cracking Elizabethan cat - is a flamboyant chronicle of quasi-historical skullduggery. The focus is on extravagant characterization that exploits and embellishes human foibles. Is this useful?  Or does a pitch consist of who/what/where/when/that's it?


--edited by Mimi Speike on 7/23/2014, 6:50 PM--

Janet Umenta, Book Country Assistant
Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 3:02 PM
Joined: 4/7/2014
Posts: 142

Thank you all so much for submitting questions! Part III of Ask an Agent is up.


We are launching our Ask an Editor series in August. Submit questions in the discussion board: Book Country Ask an Editor Blog Series. 




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