Posted by: Jodi | March 12, 2014

Agent Q and A

At this year’s “Time out for Writers” conference there was a panel discussion where we writers got to pick the brains of a group of agents about anything and everything.  Here are some of the notes from that panel.

question

Question: Just how important is it for authors to grow a social media presence before publishing?

Answer: Social media is important but not a deal breaker.  If we find a book that has a terrific potential it doesn’t matter if the author has a social media presence or not, we are going to pursue publishing that book.  That said, if authors are willing to do it, it can only help them in the long run and we encourage writers to start sooner than later.

Q: When it comes to grammar, what is the preferred style guide?

A: As authors trying to get published, it is imperative that they can prove that they can create quality work. The work should be polished and have as few errors as possible, but don’t sweat every comma.  Each publisher will have a slightly different style and they will do a final line edit.

Q: Different genres have different standard word counts. How strict are they?

A: As long as the story is good and trimmed of all unnecessary parts; that is, parts that drag the story down or don’t further the plot, don’t worry too much about word count.  After reading, an editor will decide if the book is too long or needs some extra beefing up.

Q: Is it helpful for writers to seek out more schooling or pursue an MFA?

A: It is a personal choice for the writer.  Many enjoy the contact and companionship of like-minded people.  When agents look for clients they look for good stories that are well written, not how schooled the author is.

Q: What do you look for in Children’s books?

A: There is no specific one thing, it has to have that certain something that makes us want to read.  

Q: Do you ever get tired of reading?

A: Yes.  There are times that we need to take reading vacations where we take time to read the books and authors we love and remember just how good reading can be. 

Q: What books do you recommend authors to read?

A: Orson Scott Card “Viewpoints and Character” and “Self editing for fiction writers” by Renni Browne

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Like posts like this? Be sure to check out my other posts from this year’s “Time out for Writers” conference –

Writing Suspense

Descriptive Prose

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Also, your comments and questions are always appreciated!

As always – Happy Writing!

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Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing the information.

  2. This is such a relief to hear! The way some other writing communities tell it, you need a double Ph.D in creative writing and publishing, to spend more time on social media than on your actual writing, 10k fans on FaceBook (which you’re somehow supposed to produce without ever letting them see more than a couple paragraphs of your novel), and you must already be an expert on the publishing industry (which makes an agent seem obsolete, imo).

    I’m so glad to hear that the quality of a story still counts for something! Thanks for posting this! It makes me feel a teensy bit better about writing.

    • These agents were great, very down to earth and approachable. It was very reassuring to hear that they care most about awesome well written stories and the rest is just frosting. Tons of frosting on a crummy cake doesn’t make the cake taste better or more desirable. Good frosting on a good cake (preferably one that’s nice and moist with chocolate…) makes it irresistible.

      You gotta do some social media, some continued learning, it’s part of the game. But don’t drive yourself crazy!

  3. There are some great tips here – thanks so much, Jodi 😀

    • Thanks for coming by!

  4. Thanks for sharing this info. You’ve always been thoughtful and supportive of your fellow writers in that way.

    • Just letting the good karma fly! Thanks for the kind words.


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