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Understanding "The Call": Perspective from an Author and Agent on Representation

Author Melody Delgado and her literary agent Cyle Young share their process of finding each other in the slush pile.

I went about searching for an agent in the usual way—using online sites. My search focused on trying to gather information about agents who represented works in my chosen genres: picture books, middle grade humor, young adult, and historical romance.

After I polished my query letter, I sent it off to some possible agents. I didn’t know a lot about the process then, but I know now there were definite reasons why I signed with the agent I did, and I am happy with my decision.

Melody Delgado has been a published writer since 2000. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines such as AIM (America’s Intercultural Magazine), VISTA, and CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE LATINO SOUL. She has published two picture books. TEN ROARING DINOSAURS was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and DO YOU KNOW HOW I GOT MY NAME? was recently published by Little Debbie/McKee Foods. Her YA inspirational, historical romance, ROYALLY ENTITLED, was released digitally by Clean Reads in May, 2017. It is the first in a three-book series called The Brides of Brevalia. A humorous children’s novel, OOPS-A-DAISY, is coming to print on September 5 of this year and is also the first in a children’s series, The De La Cruz Diaries. It will also be published by Clean Reads.

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A few months after sending out a few queries, I received an email and a phone call from Cyle Young of Hartline Literary. We had a lengthy, but informative discussion on the phone. I felt he answered all my questions sufficiently. He also asked pertinent probing questions about my writing, which helped me gauge his interest. Since I write so many diverse genres, I knew it would be easier to work with one agent who would be able to represent everything that I write. Some agents only represent picture books or fiction, but not both. Others only represent adult novels or strictly nonfiction.

I knew Cyle and I would be a good fit, because he represents many genres and every age group.

Hartline Literary Agency has a long history in the industry. Their favorable reputation was another major factor that influenced me to want to work with them. Cyle provides in depth teaching videos for his clients. The videos cover topics from “How to Polish Your Manuscript” to “How to Present Your Manuscript or Proposal for Submission.”

I felt I would be in good hands if I signed on with Cyle and Hartline.

Like many authors, I have lots of friends who are writers and I am active in online writing communities. The number one frustration I hear from other writers concerning agents is a lack of communication and availability from their agents after signing on with them. Many authors have no idea which publishers their book is being shopped to or even if their book is being shopped at all.

Cyle has been great about keeping me in the loop. Recently, Cyle and I had an offer from two different publishing houses for my middle-grade novel, OOPS-A-DAISY. It was reassuring to know I was in good hands. We exchanged several emails and had multiple phone conversations regarding the details of each offer. He listened to what my preferences were and then acted accordingly. While I was thankful to get any offer—much less multiple offers—one of the important factors for me regarding my novel was that it be available in print and not just digitally, since many young readers find out about books from libraries and bookstores. Cyle listened to my request and made this happen for me.

During the negotiations, I mentioned to Cyle that I had started writing follow-up books to both of my novels that he sold, ROYALLY ENTITLED, an inspirational, historical, YA romance, and OOPS-A-DAISY, a humorous middle-grade novel. Thanks to great communication, he not only was aware of what I was working on, he was able to push for two series contracts. He essentially turned a two-book deal into a six-book deal.

While I depend upon my critique group and other writers to help me get my manuscript ready for submission, it is good to know there are resources available to help me in my publishing journey. I also appreciate knowing that my agent is on top of trying to actively sell my manuscripts, keeps me in the loop with specific details, listens to and considers my preferences, and negotiates the best deal possible.

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The Agent’s Perspective

Representing Melody Delgado was an exceptionally rare scenario for me as an agent. I don’t often represent authors who I have not met in person. Not because I don’t want to, but because many authors don’t understand how to sell themselves in a cover letter or proposal. I find it is much easier to mentor writers who I have already developed a relationship with at a writing conference or retreat. But as you will see, Melody captured my attention and she spoke to my interests, and I became her agent.

Cyle Young is a force-sensitive dragon rider trapped in the modern world. When he and his three muggle padawans aren’t racing chocobos, they search for a magical wardrobe or time stone that may help them return home before The Nothing, Skeletor, or Skynet takes over this dimension. Cyle credits his 20+ writing awards to his discovery of the “One Ring to Rule Them All.”

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He lives in the Midwest and when he is not shopping manuscripts for Hartline Literary Agency, he can be found lounging in his hammock beside the tranquil Grand River.

Within only a few days of becoming an agent with Hartline Literary Agency, I received an email from Melody about a historical romance novel entitled ROYALLY ENTTLED. The story was set in the Kingdom of Brevalia and my mind instantly conjured up images of Princess Diaries. I don’t know why—but that’s what I thought about. Even though I was a 37-year-old former Division 1 football player, I loved that movie and Melody’s book blurb kept pulling me further into her cover letter.

When I read on, I discovered that Melody was a published picture book author with Houghton Mifflin. That revelation was enough to garner an immediate response. Not only do I know the company, I love the books that they have published. As an author, if you’ve been published with a large publishing house, it is always important to let an agent know.

When I read about Melody’s TEN ROARING DINOSAURS, my interest went off the charts and I couldn’t wait to speak to Melody about her picture book.

I also noticed in the letter that Melody wrote for Chicken Soup for the Soul, which I considered another valuable asset. If other significant publishers have already reviewed an author’s work and deemed it to be of enough quality to invest hundreds to thousands of dollars in, that speeds up my review process.

Melody mentioned in her opening statement that she also was under contract for another novel. All of this information helped me decide to send Melody a request for a phone conversation. On the phone, we immediately connected and both realized that she’d be a great fit for my unique client pool.

My relationship with Melody has gone smoothly. She has continued to hone her craft as an author and she follows my advice and instructions. We speak as often as necessary to communicate the status of her submissions and Melody continues to stay abreast of the industry and publisher’s editorial needs. Every agent dreams of having clients that are as responsive as Melody, and I am lucky to have her as one of mine.

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If you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at

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