5 Tips From Literary Agent Carly Watters

Here are 5 great takeaways from our Writer's Market Podcast with literary agent Carly Watters. (Plus a link to listen to all the other great tips she has to offer writers.)
Publish date:

In this excellent Writer's Market Podcast (which I just happen to co-host with my friend, Writer's Market editor Robert Lee Brewer), we interviewed popular literary agent Carly Watters. In the interview, we discussed many topics focused on writers, such as what to do when pitching an agent, what do agents do, what's the important part of platform/social media and more (you can listen to the entire interview here or here on iTunes). While there are dozens of excellent tips in the interview, which you should definitely check out, here are 5 takeaways I think are important for writers to know:

1. Never bring negativity into anything. Don't mention flaws or perceived flaws (For example, "I'm not sure if this manuscript is right for you," "This is my first time completing a manuscript," "I'm sorry for taking up your time." By writing a book you've earned a spot in a literary agent's inbox. [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] Try to give everything a positive spin.

2. Focus on the writing and the craft and make it the best you can. You should spend at least 80% of your time writing, with the other 20% focused on building an audience online. ("I can teach platform. I can't teach writing.")

3. Engagement with your blog or social media platform is must more important than having a really large following. (It's more valuable to have people who are commenting on your work, chatting with you on Facebook or Twitter than to just have a high number of followers. People interacting are more likely to be book buyers.)

4. To get the most out of talking to an agent at a writing conference, remember to say hi and be friendly with agents during the breaks of an event. Agents human, so they like interacting with everyone without necessarily being pitched. Let agents get to know you a bit—it can only help when you go to pitch one an agent.

5. Prologues are usually unnecessary. Just start with Chapter 1. "If the information is so necessary, then don't hide it in a prologue."

If you want more great tips on what agents want and more in-depth explanations of the thoughts above, as well as advice on how to find success when entering writing competitions (not to mention some funny stories that Robert and I have in dealing with literary agents), listen to the full podcast here at WritersMarket.com or click here to listen to and subscribe on iTunes.


Plus, check out these other great interviews on the Writer's Market Podcast:

Brian Klems
What Is Creative Nonfiction in Writing?

What Is Creative Nonfiction in Writing?

In this post, we look at what creative nonfiction (also known as the narrative nonfiction) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing and more.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Four WDU Courses, a Competition Deadline Reminder, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce four WDU courses, a Competition deadline reminder, and more!

Funny You Should Ask: What Is Going to Be the Next Big Trend in Fiction?

Funny You Should Ask: What Is Going to Be the Next Big Trend in Fiction?

Funny You Should Ask is a humorous and handy column by literary agent Barbara Poelle. In this edition, she discusses the next big fiction trend, and whether or not all books are the same.

From Script

A Change in Entertainment Business Currency and Disrupting Storytelling with Historical Significance (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, learn about how crypto currency is making a wave in the entertainment business, what percentages really mean in film financing, the pros and cons of writing partnerships, an exclusive interview with three-time NAACP Image Awards nominee, co-creator and former showrunner of CBS’ 'S.W.A.T.' Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Putting Off Submissions

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Putting Off Submissions

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is putting off submissions.

The Transformative Power of a Post-First-Draft Outline

The Transformative Power of a Post-First-Draft Outline

Have you ever considered outlining after finishing your first draft? Kris Spisak walks you through the process.

Poetic Forms

The Skinny: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the skinny, a form created by Truth Thomas.

The Benefits of Writing Book Reviews

The Benefits of Writing Book Reviews

A book review is more than sharing an opinion—it's a conversation between readers. Sam Risak shares the benefits of writing books reviews, as well as best practices for getting started.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Give In

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Give In

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character give in to something or someone.