Publish date:

Agents Talk Synopses, Literary Journals and More in Interview

I really enjoy the "Agents & Editors" series in Poets & Writers magazine. I just read the most recent article, and you should, too, because it's here online for free. Agents sit down in kind of a roundtable discussion and talk about publishers, queries, writing and everything else.

I really enjoy the "Agents & Editors" series in Poets & Writers magazine. I just read the most recent article, and you should, too, because it's here online for free. Agents sit down in kind of a roundtable discussion and talk about publishers, queries, writing and everything else.Here are some notes from the May/June installment of this series, which features Maria Massie of Lippincott Massie McQuilkin, Jim Rutman of Sterling Lord Literistic, Anna Stein of Irene Skolnick Literary Agency, and Peter Steinberg of the Steinberg Agency. There is too much good information to really explain here, but I will share some good points that I found interesting and may be not widely known.

Image placeholder title


Synopses

Stein and Steinberg both said they hated synopses and didn't read them. Strangely enough, someone at the Boston writers' conference the other day mentioned to me that synopses are often not read by agents. This was news to me. I think that, for genre fiction especially, they are valuable. For literary fiction, where the quality of the prose is paramount, they are somewhat worthless - and Rutman actually mentioned that exact point in the article.

How Agents Find Writers
The agents talked about how they don't find fiction writers online. (Though unspoken, they may find nonfiction writers that way.) They find fiction writers in literary magazines, but even there - agents are likely too late. The consensus was that the majority of good writers getting good stuff published in literary journals were either already repped by an agent, or an agent saw the story first and just called the writer five minutes ago.

Writers Editing Their Work
All four agents had a lot to say on how writers submit work too soon. Their advice was to find brutally honest writing peers and request no positive feedback - only negative feedback. Rutman mentioned how college professors (and possibly friends and family, too) will encourage you to send it out there and get the process moving, but that is dangerous because the work is likely not ready yet.

Advice to New Middle America Novelists
Massie said: If you're in middle America and you just wrote a novel but have no idea what to do now, you should try to get great short work published in quality literary journals. Do that, and agents will flock to you.

On Switching Agents
One of the agents (unknown as to which one) remarked that this is almost always a bad idea, and that writers need to have more patience and more trust.

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

Image placeholder title

A fan of fiction? The Write Great Fiction Series
has 5 awesome books at one discount price.

Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:


The Benefits of a Book Coach for Writers

The Benefits of Having a Book Coach for Writers

What is a book coach? How could they help authors? Award-winning author and writing instructor Mark Spencer answers these questions and more in this post about the benefits of having a book coach for writers.

Clare Chambers: On Starting Fresh and Switching Gears

Clare Chambers: On Starting Fresh and Switching Gears

Award-winning author Clare Chambers discusses the fear and excitement of switching genre gears in her new historical fiction novel, Small Pleasures.

Poetic Forms

Exquisite Corpse: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the exquisite corpse (or exquisite cadaver), a collaborative poem that would make a fun poetic game.

How Opening Ourselves to Other People Can Make Us Better Writers

How Opening Ourselves to Other People Can Make Us Better Writers

The writing process is both individual and communal, as receiving constructive feedback and outside encouragement helps our drafts become finished manuscripts. Author Peri Chickering discusses how opening ourselves up to others can make us better writers.

What Forensic Science’s Godmother Taught Me About Writing Mysteries

What Forensic Science’s Godmother Taught Me About Writing Mysteries

Stephanie Kane discusses the impact of Frances Glessner Lee, the godmother of forensic science, and her crime scene dioramas on writing mysteries.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Still Alive

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Still Alive

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, reveal that a character who was thought deceased is actually still among the living.

Mark Anthony: On Destigmatizing Paranormal Communication

Mark Anthony: On Destigmatizing Paranormal Communication

Author Mark Anthony hopes to educate and normalize paranormal communication with his new spirituality book, The Afterlife Frequency.

Ways Animals Have Interacted With Writers Through the Centuries

Ways Animals Have Interacted With Writers Through the Centuries

Across the globe and spanning lifetimes, animals have always operated as more than simply animals within the stories they reside. Author Richard Girling discusses how animals have interacted with writers throughout the centuries.

Margaret Verble: On Combining Facts and Imagination in Historical Fiction.

Margaret Verble: On Combining Facts and Imagination in Historical Fiction.

Pulitzer Prize-finalist Margaret Verble discusses the process of writing her new historical fiction novel, When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky.