Agent Tina Wexler On: 6 and 1/2 Ways to Impress an Agent

1.Write a really amazing query. Which is to say: take your time, try describing your work multiple ways until you find the best approach, read successful queries online and have as many people as possible read yours so that you’re certain it makes sense and is a shiny apple. 2. Demonstrate knowledge of an agent's list. This doesn’t mean you have to read every book they’ve ever sold—I leave that job to my mom—but by showing them you know a bit about who they represent, you’re telling agents you’ve done your research on who to query.
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Editor's note: I am declaring November 2010 to be "Agent Guest Column Month," and therefore, every weekday, I will be posting a guest column by a literary agent. Day 4: Today's guest agent is Tina Wexler of ICM Partners.

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1. Write a really amazing query.
Which is to say: take your time, try describing your work multiple ways until you find the best approach, read successful queries online and have as many people as possible read yours so that you’re certain it makes sense and is a shiny apple.

(Read young adult author Gina Damico's "How I Got My Agent" column -- all about how she came to sign with literary agent Tina Wexler.)

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Tina Wexler, an agent at ICM Partners, is predominately
interested in middle grade/YA fiction and adult
nonfiction. Tina currently serves on the board of
the Rutgers University Council on Children's
Literature and is an active member of SCBWI.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of an agent's list. This doesn’t mean you have to read every book they’ve ever sold—I leave that job to my mom—but by showing them you know a bit about who they represent, you’re telling agents you’ve done your research on who to query.

3. Do your research on who to query. Period.

4. Write a really amazing manuscript. Which is to say: take your time, put your work through multiple revisions, read published works in your genre, and consider joining a critique group or finding a writing partner whom you trust who can help make your manuscript a shiny apple.

5. Be nice. Agents, like most everyone, want to work with people who are personable. This does not, however, mean “Fawn over the agent” or “Send a bushel of apples to the agent.”

6. Don’t ask me, “Why all the talk about apples?” because if you’ve read my client Donna Gephart's How to Survive Middle School, you already know it’s because I'm constantly daydreaming about Bubbe’s Jewish Apple Cake. But do ask other questions you may have. Be a part of the conversation. Agents want critical thinkers who take this getting-published thing seriously.

6 ½. Take this getting-published thing seriously. There’s plenty of fun to be had, but remember, this is a business, not a hobby or a get-rich-quick scheme. Agents want hard workers, writers dedicated to their craft who view getting published as the first step of a long journey, writers whom they will want to be with on that journey.

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