How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critiques) Starts Dec. 12, 2016

How do you hook an agent right away, keep them hooked, and make the most of your new publishing relationship? In this Boot Camp starting Dec. 12, 2016, “How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent,” you’ll learn how to get a literary agent’s attention through a great submission, and also how to navigate the process of working successfully with an agent. You’ll also work with an agent online (the instructing agents are from Sandra Dijkstra Literary) to review and refine your all-important query letter and the first 5 pages of your novel. As always, seats in the boot camp are limited, and many WD camps sell out — so consider signing up sooner rather than later. The December 12 camp is a great opportunity to get professional feedback on your writing.

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This Boot Camp will cover a range of important questions:

— What keeps an agent reading? What makes writing jump off the page?
— What are the most common Chapter 1 mistakes that make them stop reviewing your submission?
— What are the steps you need to give your query and manuscript the best possible shot?
— What are the turn-on’s and turn-offs when it comes to queries?
— How do agents make judgment calls?
— and much more.

With real-life examples of queries that do and don’t work, you will learn how you can refine your own query letter and get an agent to request your novel.The world of literary agencies can be an intimidating place. You’ll be lead through the inner-workings of finding the perfect literary agent, working with an agent and how to get the most out of your relationship. See what a day in the life of an agent looks like, and get tips about how to find your perfect author-agent match that will result in a successful partnership.

The best part is that you’ll be working directly with a knowledgeable and experienced agent, who will provide feedback specific to your work. (Sign up for the boot camp here.)

Here’s how it works:

On Dec. 12, 2016, you will gain access to a special 60-minute online tutorial presented by agents at the Dijkstra Literary Agency. It will explain the submission process of submitting to an agent, what they find appealing in a query letter and what an author-agent relationship looks like from the inside. You will also be notified by email which agent you’ll be working with Monday afternoon.

From 11:00 am to 1:00 pm (PT) on both Dec. 13 and Dec. 14, instructors will be available to answer questions and provide additional feedback via the Writer’s Digest University message boards. Only registered students can access these boards. You’ll also be able to ask question of your fellow students. Feel free to share your work and gain support from your peers.

After listening to the presentation and participating in the discussion sessions, you’ll be able to revise your query & first 5 double-spaced pages as necessary. Then, you’ll email those pages directly to Jill Marr, Elise Capron, Thao Le, Jessica Watterson, or Roz Foster, by the end of the day on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. They will spend up to four weeks reviewing their assigned critiques and providing feedback as to what works and what doesn’t. (Usually a WD boot camp has a three-week turnaround for critiques, but we are allowing an extra week this time because of the holidays.)

Please note that any one of the instructing agents may ask for additional pages if the initial submission shows serious promise. (Sign up for the boot camp here.)

RECAP ON DATES:

Monday, Dec. 12, 2016 – Access to Tutorial and Teaching
Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 – Blackboard Discussion 11 am to 1 pm (PT)
Thursday, Dec. 15 – Materials due to agents
Jan. 12, 2017 – All critiqued materials due back to attendees

About the Instructors:

ELISE CAPRON is an acquiring agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She also manages the SDLA office and works closely with Sandra Dijkstra on author development and management. She is most interested in serious, character-driven literary fiction and well-written narrative non-fiction (particularly serious history with a good story).

A graduate of Emerson College, Elise holds a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing, and served on the editorial staff of the Emerson Review for several years. She interned at Harcourt and the Dijkstra Agency before joining the agency full-time in late 2003.

Elise is interested in fiction that has unforgettable writing, a terrific narrative voice/tone, and memorable characters. She loves novels with an unusual or eccentric edge and is drawn to stories she has never heard before. She aims to work with writers who are getting their work published regularly in magazines and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Some of Elise’s recent and soon-to-be-published fiction titles include Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead) and How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf); Courtney Brkic’s The First Rule of Swimming (Little, Brown); Rachel Toor’s On The Road to Find Out (FSG); Jonathon Keats’ The Book of the Unknown (Random House); Rikki Ducornet’s Netsuke (Coffee House Press); Maureen McHugh’s After the Apocalypse (Small Beer Press), which was picked as a “Top 10 Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly; Ali Liebegott’s The IHOP Papers (Carroll & Graf); Peter Plate’s Soon the Rest Will Fall (Seven Stories Press); and more.

On the non-fiction front, Elise is looking for fascinating true stories told in a compelling way. Currently, Elise is especially interested in working with up-and-coming scholars (particularly historians) who are looking to transition from the academic market to a trade readership. Some of Elise’s recent and soon-to-be-published non-fiction titles include Jack Shuler’s The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose (Public Affairs) and Blood and Bone: Truth and Reconciliation in a Southern Town (University of South Carolina Press); Leo Braudy’s Haunted; Jane Vandenburgh’s The Wrong Dog Dream: A True Romance (Counterpoint); Jonathon Keats’ Forged: Why Fakes Are the Great Art of Our Age (Oxford University Press); Cynthia Barnett’s Blue Is the New Green: An American Water Ethic (Beacon); Billy Smith’s Ship of Death: The Voyage That Changed the Atlantic World (Yale); and more.

Please note that Elise is specifically not interested in: fantasy, young-adult/middle-grade, picture books, romance, sci-fi, business books, cookbooks, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or self-help. And while she is interested in narrative non-fiction, please note that she takes on very little memoir.

JILL MARR is an acquiring agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

She graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and a minor in History. She has a strong Internet and media background and nearly 15 years of publishing experience. She wrote features and ads forPages, the literary magazine for people who love books, and continues to write book ads for publishing houses, magazine pieces, and promotional features for television.

After writing ad copy and features for published books for years, she knows how to find the “hook” and sell it.

Jill is interested in commercial fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense and horror, women’s commercial fiction and historical fiction. She is also looking for non-fiction by authors who are getting their work published regularly and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Jill is looking for non-fiction projects in the areas of history, sports, politics, current events, self-help, cookbooks, memoir, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor and music.

Some of Jill’s recent and soon-to-be-published non-fiction includes the Travel Channel’s Nick Groff’s Chasing Spirits (NAL); Maybe We’ll Have You Back (Skyhorse) by actor Fred Stoller; Get Over It (Seal Press) by Christina Pesoli; Doulas A. Wissing’s Funding Our Enemy (Prometheus Books); Why We Love Serial Killers (Skyhorse) by Scott Bonn; America’s Greatest “Failing” School (Nation Books) by journalist Kristina Rizga; Don’t Lick the Minivan (Skyhorse) by Leanne Shirtliffe; William Jones’ More Than the Dream: The Untold Story of the March on Washington (Norton); Rocking the Pink (Seal Press) by singer-songwriter Laura Roppé; Stop Reading Baby Books (Skyhorse) by JJ Keith; Drunks: America’s Search for Sobriety by Christopher Finan; and Argyle Armada: Life with America’s Top Pro Cycling Team (VeloPress) by Mark Johnson.

Some of Jill’s new and upcoming fiction includes Bloodman and American Woman (Thomas & Mercer) by Robert Pobi; Reckless Disregard(Seven Stories Press) by Robert Rotstein; Three Souls (HarperCollins) by Janie Chang;Madam(Plume) by Cari Lynne and Kellie Martin; The Cordell Logan thriller series (The Permanent Press) by David Freed; Benefit of the Doubt (Tor/Forge) by Neal Griffin; Garbo’s Last Stand (Entranced) by Jon Miller; The Crossroads thriller series (Thomas & Mercer) by Eyre Price; The Dog Year (Berkley) by Ann Garvin; The Change Your Name Store (Sky Pony Press) by Leanne Shirliffe; and the Jaden Terrell series that includes the Shamus Award nomineeRacing the Devil and A Cup Full of Midnight (The Permanent Press).

Please note that Jill is specificallynot interested in:YA, children’s books, sci-fi, romance or anything involving unicorns.

ROZ FOSTER is an acquiring agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She works from New York.

She has a B.A. in English Literature from UC San Diego, studied philosophy for a year at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and earned her M.A. in English, with an emphasis in composition & rhetoric and creative writing, from Portland State University. At PSU, she taught writing in exchange for tuition. She’s been learning French since 2009.

Roz spent over five years as a qualitative researcher in high-tech consumer products marketing. In 2008, she co-founded a web design company for which she provided non-profit organizations with audience-focused market research, project planning, and digital design. She joined SDLA in 2013.

Roz is interested in non-fiction in the areas of cultural studies, sociology, business, history, politics, current affairs, science and design. She looks for driven, narrative storytelling and sharp concepts that have the potential to transcend their primary audience. She’s also interested in literary and commercial fiction, literary YA with crossover potential for the adult market, and literary sci-fi. In fiction, she looks for a resonant, lively voice; rich, irresistible language; characters with compelling development arcs; and a mastery of dramatic structure. Across the board, she’s looking for books that make her feel like the author is tuned into a rising revolution — cultural, political, literary, or what not — that’s about to burst on the scene.

Please note that Roz is specifically not interested in: sports, cookbooks, screenplays, poetry, romance, fantasy, or children’s books.

THAO LE joined the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency in 2011. She handles finances and select contracts and is also an agent.

Thao is looking for adult sci-fi/fantasy/horror, NA (new adult), YA (young adult), and MG (middle grade). She enjoys both gritty, dark narratives and fantastically quirky stories. She is also looking for light-hearted, funny, and moving contemporary YAs with a raw, authentic teen voice. She’s particularly drawn to memorable characters, smart-mouthed dialogue, strong plots, and tight writing. Her favorite books are ones that reimagine familiar tales and tropes in a completely fresh new way and she has a soft spot for multicultural stories and lush settings.

Recent sales include: Katherine Harbour’s fantasy THORN JACK (Harper Voyager), Lisa Freeman’s surf YA novel HONEY GIRL (Sky Pony Press), IPPY Award-winning S.K. Falls’ new adult novel ONE LAST SONG (Forever Yours), James Kendley’s paranormal thriller THE DROWNING GOD (Harper Voyager Impulse), Wendy Spinale’s steampunk Peter Pan retelling EVERLAND (Scholastic), and Kathryn Tanquary’s middle grade fantasy THE NIGHT PARADE (Sourcebooks).

Thao is not looking for: biographies, business books, cookbooks, memoirs, picture books, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, self-help, short stories, or travel books.

JESSICA WATTERSON graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in Sociocultural Anthropology and English. Jessica has made books a serious part of her life for many years. Jessica is most interested in all subgenres of adult and new adult romance, and women’s fiction. She is looking for heartfelt and unique romance that will instantly draw a reader in and keep them hooked.

(Sign up for the boot camp here.)

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2 thoughts on “How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent — Agent One-on-One Boot Camp (With Critiques) Starts Dec. 12, 2016

  1. Tanya G

    Hi Chuck,

    Do you have any opinion or wisdom with respect to pitching a US agent if you live in Canada? Is it reasonably acceptable to have an agent in a different country?

    Many thanks,

    TG

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