5 Simple Things Agents Can Do To Make Writers’ Lives Easier (and 3 Things Writers Should Do Regardless)

1. Set up an auto-responder email letting writers know that their query letter was received. By doing this, agents will cut down on the number of repeat queries they receive from writers unsure if their e-mail went through correctly. For those agents whose policy it is to only respond if interested, writers won’t wonder if their queries were received in the first place or send a follow-up e-mail just in case.

(Meet new literary agent Victoria Marini, who represents fiction, nonfiction and kids books.)



Nancy Parish runs the blog,
The Sound and Furry. She is a
contributing editor to the GLA blog
and runs the Footnotes series. She
is currently writing novels for children.

2. Respond to all partial and full requests. When a writer receives a request for a full or partial manuscript from an agent, it’s a big deal. It means we’ve gotten over one hurdle—the dreaded query letter, and now someone is actually going to read our work. So please respond, especially at this level. Even a form rejection is better than silence. That way we can move on. Please, I beseech you!

3. Provide periodic status updates on their slushpile reading. If writers know the agent has read everything they’ve received by a certain date, and we’ve sent a query during that time, and haven’t heard from them; then we can skip the status e-mail—and avoid clogging up their inbox and just re-send the query. Status updates can come on a blog, Twitter or in an interview.

(Why you should only query 6-8 agents at a time.)

4. Be specific in what they are looking to publish. Online and at conferences, agents—as a species, often give vague descriptions of what is on their wish lists. Agents may do this so that they don’t miss something wonderful. The tradeoff is an inbox clogged with queries about books they have no interest in reading, let alone publishing. But: If agents were to be more specific and even list examples of published works that they like and want to see more of, the result might just be a clog-free inbox.

5. List online interviews they’ve given on their agency website. Part of a writer’s job when trying to land an agent is to research agents. That research includes learning the tastes of perspective agents that we might like to query. We are more effective in our research when agents list recent interview links on the agency websites—or better yet when they tweet them!

3 Simple Things Writers Must Do Regardless:

1. Target your agent search. Stop sending mass queries to every agent on the planet.

2. Do your research. Don’t just look to find agents who accept the genre you write. Read interviews the agent’s given, read books they’ve represented and most of all, look at the agency website for the most up-to-date information. Start with a book like Guide to Literary Agents too see the big picture and start the narrow down, and then continue your research online.

(Literary terms defined — the uncommon and common.)

3. Don’t’ respond to agent rejections. Save the “Thank you’s” for when the agent sells your book. Seriously, don’t clog the agent’s already crowded inbox with thank you notes for nice rejections. It’s still a rejection. Same thing goes for sending a nasti-gram e-mail when you receive a rejection. It’s not going to change agent’s mind and you’ve pretty much assured that they won’t represent you—ever. It’s best to let it go.



The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.


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3 thoughts on “5 Simple Things Agents Can Do To Make Writers’ Lives Easier (and 3 Things Writers Should Do Regardless)

  1. Author CJ Black

    Wonderful post! All the points you touched on are important for both agents and authors. A good business relationship is always useful in any line of work. And as a previous commenter stated getting the requests are one of the most important times in the process.

  2. Natalie Aguirre

    Great advice, Nancy. These are things that both agents and authors can do to help each other out. And you’re right, getting a request for a partial or full manuscript is a big deal for an author. So getting some response, even if it’s a rejection, is so important.


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