Skip to main content

13 Things You May Not Know About Agents

You've read lots of articles about literary agents, but here are 13 things you might not have heard yet.

1. We really hate how often we have to say “no” to writers. It’s one of the most excruciating parts of our job! So don’t imagine us gleefully rubbing our hands together and cackling happily when we send that rejection letter.

2. We are always rooting for you. We love working with writers, and we always hope the next query or the next pitch meeting will be a winner.

(What are overused openings in fantasy, sci-fi, romance and crime novels?)

Guest post from Rachelle Gardner, agent at Books & Such Literary Management.
Rachelle is currently seeking nonfiction from writers who have made a good start
on building a platform, particularly with blogging. Visit Rachelle on Twitter, Facebook, or rachellegardner.com. Be sure to read Rachelle's submission guidelines.

Rachelle 2014

3. While many of us do a great deal of editing on your manuscripts and proposals, the bottom line is that it's the writer's job to provide a marketable book. Agents shouldn't be counted on to make it sales-ready, only to polish it up.

4. We are very invested in your book and once we’ve decided to represent it, we often feel like it's "our baby" too (even though we KNOW it's yours!)

5. If it seems like we're too busy, it's because the economics of this industry demand we carry a certain amount of volume to make a living wage.

6. We prioritize taking care of current clients above the search for new clients. So sometimes, queries and writer's conferences take a back seat.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 1.10.02 AM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

7. Most of us are interested in your long-term career, not just the size of the next advance.

8. We hate the slowness of publishing just as much as you do!

9. We want to set you up with the publisher and editor who will be best for you, not just the one who's offering the most money.

10. When we've tried to sell your book but we're not successful, we're almost as disappointed as you. Not only are we emotionally invested, we've put in a lot of time for no paycheck.

11. When you send us a manuscript to read, we usually don't do it during the work day. We read in the evenings (our "free time") and on the weekends. With Kindles and iPads, we may even be reading your manuscript on the treadmill at the gym.

12. We're aware of all the new options for writers these days, and we're doing our best to help steer each client in the right direction.

13. If your writing career keeps you awake at night, there's a good chance it has kept us awake on occasion, too.

Questions: What are some things agents may not know about writers?

(Secrets to querying literary agents: 10 questions answered.)

------------

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers' Conferences:

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 3.39.23 PM

Your new complete and updated instructional guide
to finding an agent is finally here: The 2015 book
GET A LITERARY AGENT shares advice from more
than 110 literary agents who share advice on querying,
craft, the submission process, researching agents, and
much more. Filled with all the advice you'll ever need to
find an agent, this resource makes a great partner book to
the agent database, Guide to Literary Agents.

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

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 not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the kimo.

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.

Tyler Moss | Reporting Through Lens of Social Justice

Writing Through the Lens of Social Justice

WD Editor-at-Large Tyler Moss makes the case for reporting on issues of social justice in freelance writing—no matter the topic in this article from the July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave clues for people to find them.