How’d Ya Get Me?: A Love Story From a Literary Agent Looking For Writers


Well, hello there! I’m an agent. Aloof and hard to snare, like this season’s Prada bag or a yeti. I mean, how do you stand out in a query in box along with the 497 other queries? [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] How do you dazzle at a conference amidst 40 other pitches? HOW DO YOU CRASH THE GATE?

Well, first of all, write good stuff. Then? Well lookey here. You are reading this blog. Which means that you are snooping around Writer’s Digest. Which means that you are tapping into the actual educational opportunities to support and expand the craft, technique and detail of your creative endeavors. You are giving yourself an edge, a key, a boost in order to make sure no stone goes unturned in your quest for publication. You are paying attention to trends and tales of other writers in order to design your own path towards you goal. Gates are scattered all around the ground before you like the crumbs from this Boston Cream Pie that I for sure shared with many other people and didn’t just eat with a spoon by myself while binge watching Columbo.

[Want to land an agent? Here are 4 things to consider when researching literary agents.]

But for real. Tapping into this blog, and delving into research and resource materials that WD can provide, is a wonderful way to equip yourself for the agent hunt. An extra tool in that author tool box. I can say this confidently and with proof as Writer’s Digest and its many platforms have been very good to me insofar as being the conduit for some of my most recent sales. In fact , next to that formidable slushpile of mine, the next highest percentage of my client list has indeed come from Writer’s Digest. Don’t believe me? Well stay tuned to this blog this week, as you will hear from four of my upcoming releases who all came to me through Writer’s Digest: the magazine, the webinars, the conference. Yup, all found me through WD and stood out because of it.

This week you’ll meet:

Renee Ahdieh, (The Wrath and the Dawn, May 12) who used a blend of technology and guts in order to make sure I had her YA on my radar. Read Renee’s post here.

Anne A Wilson, (Hover, June 2nd) , a former naval helicopter pilot who used the same laser- like focus she has in the cockpit to get her women’s fiction in front of me, twice.

Monica Ropal, (When You Leave, April 7) who filled her restless waiting period for the responses from requested full manuscripts with a webinar to see what else she can be doing to get her contemporary YA mystery that extra push.

And Kat Spears, (Breakaway, Sept 15) who compiled research gleamed from the pages of Writer’s Digest and on-line interviews to hone in on a specific, tight list of agents to query for her debut YA contemporary, SWAY.

[Get Query Help: Click here for The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter]

Now obviously there are multiple ways to skin a stegosaurus, and I am FAR from guaranteeing that you will find an agent or a career in publishing through Writer’s Digest. All I can say is that I found these folks with a little help from the ol’ WD—help that is at your same fingertips. And no matter how you go about obtaining that giant lizard pelt, it can’t hurt to keeps tabs on like-minded folks who have been there/done that or are trying to get there/do that.

So this week, sit back, grab a spoon and a Boston Cream pie, and tune in every morning to read shameless plugs for all the good stuff that WD can provide, because I want you to find me. In fact I’ll come back here too and check out their blogs and the comments, after all, someone has to be my next client, right? And the odds literally are that they could come from Writer’s Digest … somehow.

T4770OnDemand Webinar
Let Barbara Poelle (who wrote this post) and literary agent Holly Root
pull back the curtain and show you exactly what goes on when an agent
reads your query in SLUSH PILE SHOWDOWN:
Download it now

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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
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29 thoughts on “How’d Ya Get Me?: A Love Story From a Literary Agent Looking For Writers

  1. Debbie

    I’ve read many of your articles and in fact, chatted with you on the WD FB Ask an Agent day. I just finished a romantic suspense and decided to start looking for an agent so naturally, came to Chuck’s Agent list and lo and behold, here you are again! Sounds like fate to me!


  2. authorericprice

    I’ve always herd, “It’s just as difficult to find an agent as it is to find a publisher.” In my personal experience I’ve received a lot more rejections from agents than publishers (2-3 times more). Maybe it’s time we change the saying to, “It’s harder to find an agent than a publisher.” I’ve sold two novels, five short stories, and a poem. I’ve won many awards, one of which for Best First Novel, yet I can’t interest an agent. Wow. I sound like I’m complaining. I don’t mean to. I’m trying to make a point for people getting started. It’s a tough business. Sometimes you get frustrated and discouraged. If you want to see you’re name in the by line, you’ve got to stick with it. I can take the rejections. I know if I get a well written query in the hands of the right agent, I’ll get a contract. I’d like to thank you and Writer’s Digest for all the resources to help authors.

  3. jeffphillips

    A depth research will deliver a good result in case of case study analysis writings. By including apt documents, examples and confirming citations from any particular source also may include.
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    Barbara has to be a dream agent, everyone’s first choice. I’ve taken courses, used editors, beta readers, and with this second book, A Killing Grief, am determined that I will have a first class agent and legit publisher. My first book, Killing in Time, was picked up by a small independent British publisher, released in 2012 at Bristol. I didn’t have an agent! Wow, what a mistake…..tears, etc. I am a physician and scientist, and I fault myself for not understanding that all of the re-writes in the world do not make up for understanding the business well.
    Some agents are already reading it. Is it okay to query you Barbara? Just yesterday, a woman I don’t really know came up to me and told me how much she loved Killing in Time, my first book, and she wanted to know where she could get the second one. It meant so much to her. That was a shot in the arm to me; I am downloading the webinar right now, just pre-ordered Hover.

    1. wilsonanne

      Thank you for pre-ordering HOVER! I really appreciate that! And just to put in my two cents, I would definitely query Barbara. Follow the submission guidelines on the Irene Goodman Literary Agency website, and in your query letter, mention that you participated in this Writer’s Digest “find an agent” blog week or that you found it helpful or something like that. Good luck to you!

  5. dymphna st james


    I am working on my first revision of my novel (women’s fiction) and plan to after the revision to send back to my developmental editor for my notes and the do a second revision. After the second revision I plan to proof and polish the copy and then send the manuscript to WD developmental note draft service where I will get a critique and a synopsis and an opinion on if the manuscript is ready to submit to an agent. Does this sound like a good plan?

  6. wilsonanne

    For some reason, there’s no reply button for your latest comment, Libby. Anyhow, did you serve? Regardless, I love your salutation. Go navy, always, right? And by the way, I would never classify HOVER as a military romance. There are thriller elements, suspense elements, and yes, a love story, but primarily, it is the story of a woman’s growth. I hope you’re able to read it at some point so you can see what I mean.

    1. Libby Austin

      Only as a spouse. My husband was active duty for 11 years and is now in the reserves. He’s a Naval Academy graduate, and Navy Blue and Gold is our children’s bedtime song, complete with hand over heart and the Beat Army cry at the end. Even Mommy has to take part in the sing-along.

      I pre-ordered a copy of Hover this morning after I read the blurb. My interest has definitely been tickled. I’ll be on a semi-vacation when it releases, so I think it’s going to be a vacation read.

      1. wilsonanne

        This is awesome, Libby. Thanks for letting me know about your background. I appreciate you pre-ordering HOVER. I will really be interested to see what you think.

  7. M.L. Stover

    I highly recommend participating in Writer’s Digest’s Webinars. They get the most amazing people!

    And having the good fortune of becoming Barbara’s next client thanks to one of these Webinars would just be the bee’s freakin’ knees.

    1. wilsonanne

      Yes, the webinars are great. I think my guest blog article will be posted on Thursday, and in it, I talk about the value of the webinars. So you’re on the right track, for sure.

  8. sierragodfrey

    Ok yeah, I have pretty much adored The Poelle (that’s what we writers call her*) from, like, the first mention of monkey knife fights. So as someone who just typed “The End” (although in truth I wrote “Finis” to be arty about it; then I changed it to “The End”) on my women’s fic ms, and as someone who knows a dang good agent when she sees it, this’ll be my first stop for the official stalking online of The Poelle. Because hello? I’m aiming to be number nine, folks. NUMBER NINE.

    *not really, although I submit that we should, and it starts now.

    1. wilsonanne

      Glad you’re joining us, Sierra. Yep, Barbara’s pretty awesome. Hopefully, this week of articles and reading about our experiences will help you in some way. Would love to see you as number nine!

  9. Libby Austin

    Definitely have my attention. I’m interested to read the upcoming articles. The challenge of finding and contacting agents has been a daunting one, so I hope to gain some wisdom on how to guide this venture.

    1. wilsonanne

      Please let us know if you have questions as you read our articles. You’re already several steps ahead of most authors just by virtue of joining in on a discussion like this and educating yourself. And by the way, we were all in your shoes once. So hang in there!

      1. Libby Austin

        Thank you, Ms. Wilson! I appreciate the encouragement. I’m looking forward to hearing what y’all have to say. I know the biggest key is to keep writing and perfecting your craft, but it helps to understand the business side of the business you are working in.

        Congratulations on your career! Thank you for serving? Are you still active duty? What do you fly?

        1. wilsonanne

          Hi Libby! Yes, you definitely have to understand both sides of the authoring world–craft and business–so you’re on the right track there. And not to sound like an infomercial, but that’s what’s so cool about Writer’s Digest. They offer webinars and tutorials and all of that on all aspects of an authoring career. So an outstanding resource. I’m no longer on active duty. I served for 9 years from 1989 to 1998 (a loooong time ago)! I flew the H-46 Sea Knight (tandem rotor) and the H-1 Huey. The H-46 takes center stage in my novel, HOVER. 🙂

          1. Libby Austin

            Aww the good ole’ Huey. It never fails when you meet an “old timer” that they will have at least one story involving a Huey. Even the first USMC Birthday Ball I attended featured a story about a Huey delivering the Marine his birthday dinner with a couple of beers on a hilltop in Vietnam.

            Military romances are typically ones I shy away from. In my experience, they’re either so far-fetched (even for fiction) that I’m left scratching my head, wondering if the author has ever spoken to someone in the military, or so well written the story hits too close to home. Hover sounds different than the usually military romance. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it on my Kindle.

            Go Navy! Beat Army!

  10. barbarapoelle

    Oh- I am accidentally also answering questions at the twitter hashatg #FoundMyAgent this week. Why not, right? But for real, if you ask in public, be ready for the answer IN PUBLIC mwahahahahaha

  11. wilsonanne

    As you’ll learn in my guest blog article later this week, I found Barbara through one of her amazing webinars on Writer’s Digest. The facilitators of these webinars really do look at and critique every query they receive. It’s the kind of literary agent attention that’s difficult to get elsewhere.

  12. barbarapoelle

    Okay, for real, I just officially counted and I have signed EIGHT clients from WD webinars, conferences, etc. There’s gold in these here hills!


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