Ask the Pro: Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner

Here are Rachelle Gardner’s responses to our list of questions:

DREAM CLIENT: Of course I love all the clients I already have, and I make a point to only take on projects I really believe in. My dream is to discover new authors and help them build successful writing careers, which is why I work with a lot of previously unpublished writers. So I’m trying to live my dream on a daily basis. A dream client is someone who writes wonderfully; understands promotion and knows how to build a tribe; always makes a deadline; is gracious with critique and direction; and is kind, grateful, smart and makes me laugh.

BIGGEST PET PEEVE: E-mails with questions like, “How do I get published?” or “Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?” Well, no, except for the 500-plus blog posts I’ve written already. There’s such an incredible wealth of information available, there’s no excuse anymore for ignorance about how
publishing works.

WORST QUERY: Unfortunately that’s a tough one, because there appears to be a number of writers out there who wouldn’t know a query letter from a feather duster (clearly they’re not readers of Writer’s Digest or agent blogs). I guess I would have to say the worst is the one that has arrived in my inbox at least once a week for the last year or so from the writer known amongst agents as Mr. Queryspammer. It’s the worst because it just keeps coming and coming and coming no matter how many times I reject it, delete it or mark it as spam. The author doesn’t change his pitch and claims he will keep at it until he gets published.

FAVORITE CONVERSATION WHEN AGREEING TO WORK WITH A NEW CLIENT: I love when I’m talking to a potential new client and we begin to click on the phone. We discover we have some similarities in background or approach to life. I’m able to capture the author’s vision for the future and help them imagine it even more clearly, and we begin to discuss strategies for how to get there. We’re both excited about the road ahead. It’s such a great feeling.

“You should probably change careers.” This advice, given by a well-meaning friend on a day when I was lamenting some of the frustrations of publishing, made me think hard about what I truly want. I discovered I didn’t want to do anything else.  WD

BIGGEST CAREER SURPRISE: When I joined WordServe as an agent, I thought I’d start a little blog just to let people know I was here. My blog has taken on a life of its own and opened doors I never imagined. It’s a terrific and fun community of writers, and it’s where the “writer” part of me gets to play. I’m constantly surprised by the sheer number of writers out there. Everyone has something to say!

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