Book Review–Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino


This is the twenty-seventh book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.

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Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino

Published August 5th, 2010

“Now includes subscription to GLA online (the agents section of!”

Now in its 20th year, “Guide to Literary Agents” is a writer’s best resource for finding a literary agent who can represent their work to publishing houses, big and small. The days when a writer could deal directly with a large publisher are over. Literary agents represent writers and shepherd manuscripts to the right editor; and a good representative is the difference between a published book and a manuscript that never gets read. To help writers acquire an agent, “GLA” provides names and specialties for more than 750 individual agents around the United States and the world.

“GLA” includes more than 90 pages of original articles on finding the best agent to represent your work and how to seal the deal. From identifying your genre to writing query letters to avoiding agent pet peeves, “GLA” will help writers deal with agents every step of the way.


I found this at my local Ollie’s discount store last year (2012). Figured it was still relevant enough and although there are many resources online, I can often be old fashioned–I like reading physical copies, especially if it’s for researching purposes.

I’ve finished reading the articles. The ones I found to be useful were used on my writing blog to help others. This book had some great advice and a listing of agencies, conferences, and more. Even though it was written in 2011, I still found most of the information to be relevant and didn’t see much difference between this one and the newer one. I really liked the article with the author of Freezing Point. If you are thinking about publishing, this is a great resource to check out.




Querying News

Hey guys, today I started seriously researching agencies. Out of sixteen I circled in the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents book, I found five possibilities. The rest were either no longer accepting material or had shut down. Since I’ve barely scraped the B’s, this seems promising. After I check out the list of agents from the book, I will begin to find more online unless something major happens. I’ve decided that I am going to seriously begin querying in August, after Camp NaNo.

This means that I will no longer be doing querying tips unless I am given one from a real agent that I’ve queried. Instead, I will post all updates for the week regarding my querying journey. I hope you will find them as useful as the tips have hopefully been.

Anyway, after today there is only ONE more day until Camp NaNo. Tomorrow I will post my writing prompt result for the month and then I’ll be mostly posting about Camp NaNo during July. I’m very excited!



Agent & Querying Tip of the Week: More Agents’ Pet Peeves


As usual, today’s tips come from the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents.

More Agents’ Pet Peeves

The following are mistakes that agents see on a daily basis. Here are things to avoid when you are querying:

1. Reacting badly to rejections.

Of course it sucks when your work is rejected. But reacting badly to the agent is not a good move on your part and will only hurt you more. Accept the rejection and move on. If the agent offers you some tips, be grateful and try to take their advice. Keep in mind that sometimes your work just isn’t a good fit for a particular agency.

2. Not behaving professionally.

This is along the same lines as the above tip, but deals with all interactions. A writer should always behave professionally. How you react as a writer is important when agents and publishers are looking your way. No one wants to deal with a difficult writer. Save the venting for close friends and family in private.



Agent & Querying Tip of the Week: Agents’ Pet Peeves


As usual, today’s tips come from the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents.

Agents’ Pet Peeves

The following are mistakes from writers that agents see on a daily basis. Here are things to avoid when you are querying:

1. Misaddressing Agents on Query Letters.

The correct salutation is “Dear Ms. or Mr. Agent Last Name.” Not “Dear Agent First Name Last Name”, “Dear Agent First Name”, “Dear Agent”, or worse, “Dear Sir/Madame/Whom It May Concern.”

2. Submitting Work to Multiple Agents at the Same Time.

While this may seem like a good idea, it will most likely backfire.

“When introducing your work (or yourself) to an agent, show you are ready for the literary marketplace by selecting your agent candidates with a serious and intelligent eye. Sending to multiple agents scattershot does not attract their attention, If your e-query doesn’t end up in the trash, it’s likely stuck in a spam filter,” says Katharine Sands.

3. Using your Query Letters to Link Agents to Websites.

If you send a query full of links explaining yourself and your work, it’s going to turn agents off. The point of a query is to hook your agent’s attention by WRITING, not posting a bunch of links.



Agent & Querying Tip of the Week: Agent’s Views on Self-Publishing


As usual, today’s tips come from the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents.

Agents and How they View Self-Publishing

There are many ways for new writers to get their work out into the world without going through the traditional publishing route. Self-publishing is becoming more and more popular, but it is still highly debated among the writing community. It’s difficult for self-published books to be available in bookstores. It’s also not easy to get an agent to take your self-published novel to fame. While not all agents consider self-published novels, some do. However, they receive so many submissions for self-published books that yours needs to stand out from the rest. Here are what some agents have to say about self-published books:

1. Many agents are open to representing self-published works (and getting them a new contract).

“Most agents will at least hear out an author with a self-published book to the same extent that they would hear out any query letter,” says agent Stephany Evans.

2. If a literary agency only accepts queries for new work, do not send one for your book.

Also make sure that the agency handles books in your genre.

3. Some agents will not consider self-published works.

“A self-published book is already viewed as a ‘used product’ There are so many great new manuscripts out there for editors to choose from, so why take on one that already has some community?” says Andrea Brown, founder of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

4. When querying with a self-published book, your sales will be a crucial factor when it comes to an agent considering your work.

Why? Agents want proof that the book has a market. It’s recommended to start querying after at least 3,000 copies have been sold. However, if your book has sold too well (more than 10,000 copies), agents may be wary against considering them. Why? Some agents may suspect that the book has sold so well that there isn’t an untapped market left. In other words, they may feel like they have no chances to sell the book to enough new readers.

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5. Agents are looking for authors with strong selling platforms.

Authors who succeed at promoting and selling their book(s) can be valuable in an agent’s eyes.

6.  Self-publishing will have a stigma that agents and authors will have to overcome.

The stigma against self-publishing is probably the biggest reason that there are odds against getting them traditionally published. Some agents may assume that self-published works don’t sell well, are unedited, that the author doesn’t know how to market the work, and that the work has been rejected numerous times. Even if none of the above are true of your work, you’ll still have to fight against the assumptions. How? By writing a great query letter.

7. Be open to change.

Even though your book may be selling well, that doesn’t make it immune to reworking it. If an agent is interested in your work but wants it to be revised, try to be open to the changes.

“I’ve found that a lot of self-published writers don’t want to revise their book. These projects can be a waste of time for agents and editors who are looking for new talent,” says Debbie Carter of Muse Literary.

8. If you are querying new work but have self-published in the past, be honest.

Don’t hide the fact that you have self-published. The publishing industry can easily find previous works. Previously published work must be addressed up front. If you are worried about weak sales or the stigma of self-publishing, include mentions of the works at the bottom of the query letter in your bio paragraph. That gives you a chance to sell yourself in the rest of your letter before the agent sees your self-publishing past. If you mention it in the first line or two, agents may stop reading. If your query hooks their interest first, your publishing history at that point may have little effect.



Agent & Querying Tip of the Week: Sometimes it’s the Timing


As usual, today’s tips come from the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents.

Sometimes it’s the Timing.

There’s an article in the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents where Karen Dionne, author of Freezing Point, describes how her first year with her agent and editor went. It was a touching article. Karen learned a lot from the process. The most important thing that I believe she learned is that sometimes if your book fails, it’s not always you or your work–it’s the timing.

A lot of work went into Karen’s first novel, but it didn’t sell. So she went back to the story she’d been writing while searching for agents–Freezing Point, which is an environmental thriller. She sent out the manuscript to fifteen editors, but not a single one bit. Six months later, Karen’s agent called to tell her that an offer have been made on Freezing Point. What changed?

Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, had come out. Environmental issues were suddenly popular. “Eco-thrillers were now a hot commodity,” Dionne writes in her article. After the book had been published, irony struck–magazines and reviewers were all commenting on her novel’s timeliness. The book had been started ten years before it hit the shelves.

So if your agent believes that your work is great and it’s not being grabbed up by editors, it may not be your fault. It just might be the timing.


Agent & Querying Tip of the Week: Does Location Matter?


As usual, today’s tips come from the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents. Today we will be discussing whether location matters when it comes to choosing a literary agent.

Does Location Matter when Selecting an Agent?

Due to the rise of technology and social media, the physical location of an agent has become less important. It has allowed agents more freedom to operate outside of big cities like New York. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and private chat rooms are used frequently by agents to stay in touch with contacts on the web.

Some writers are convinced that an agent has to live and operate in a big city (particularly New York, which is considered the hub of the publishing world) to be successful, but other agents (and writers) disagree. Although nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting, technology has made it possible to succeed without needing to always meet in person.

Kristin Nelson, founder and president of Nelson Literary agency, believes that reputation, not location, is an agent’s greatest asset. Kate Schafer Testerman, founder of KT Literary, bases her decision to sign an author based on their writing, not location, and suggests authors should do the same when choosing an agent.