If Only I Had Some Advice for Writers

*Snark Alert!

So the other day this guy tweeted me:

“Any advice for a new author trying to find a literary agent?”

I feel really bad for the guy. I’m sure he’s nice enough, and a good writer, and he’s doing his due diligence researching agents. But in the moment, the question dumbfounded me and I just totally went off, I mean I had a complete flippin’ conniption fit. (What’s a conniption anyway?) It was just one-of-those-days (and it was only 9am) and I suddenly felt absolutely overwhelmed by someone wanting a 140-character answer to such a ginormous question.

Kind of like walking up to the nearest person at Niagara Falls and asking, “Hey, is there any water around here?”

I tweeted him back: “You didn’t really just tweet that, did you?”

Do I have any advice for new writers?

Uh, no. Not unless you count my 500 blog posts.

I know it was an innocent question – I should give the guy a break. I did apologize to him. I know this is a difficult and confusing business, and everyone’s just doing the best they can to learn what they can… in whatever way they can. (And I need to keep my knee-jerk emotional reactions to myself!)

Maybe I can come up with a stock answer to keep handy for when I get those kinds of tweets (because it happens frequently). Something like,

“Sure, thanks for asking! (1) Write a great book. (2) Query agents.”

Pretty simple, to the point, and helpful, right? Or maybe it should be more like:

“Yes. Quit now. If you have to ask, you’ll never get an agent.”

What do you think? In no more than 140 characters, how should I answer the question:

“Any advice for a new author trying to find a literary agent?”
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P.S. Please make me laugh with your answers.

P.P.S. I’m trying to have a little fun here, so please don’t take it all so seriously and have your feelings hurt.

P.P.P S. In case you’re worried this post might hurt the feelings of the guy who tweeted me, never fear. He’s already read and approved this post (thereby confirming my status as the nicest agent EVER.) Go say hi to him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ChrisPaternoste.
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  • Jenn Johansson

    >Visit my blog, read all posts, visit the blogs of other agents I link to, read their posts. If you still want to be a writer, seek therapy.

    –optional alternate ending:
    If you still want to be a writer, query me.

    Your call, I think both fit.

  • folksinmt

    >How funny. I just finished writing a chapter and my mc had a conniption fit. I had to look it up, since I technically didn't know the meaning of the word conniption. And I didn't learn much: the phrase originated around the 1830's, but no one knows for sure where it came from. It's possible it arose from the Yiddish language. So there you have it.

  • Anonymous

    >Racehlle, you can't help but be nice! How about: 1} Read good books 2} Write good books 3} Get a good agent.
    Easier said than done, right? LOL

  • Leigh Lyons

    >The best advice I ever got was being a writer is like going into a secluded room and beating your head against the wall. Do that for about two hours. If you can stand it, then you should try for a career in writing!

  • Roxane B. Salonen

    >"There's this really great blog written by agent Rachelle Gardner. Start there, follow the links, read the back posts, take a few aspirin then call me in the morning."

    By the way, I just have to add this, Rachelle, agents are not the only ones who receive such questions. How many of us authors/serious writers have been out in the world discussing our work when someone says, "Yeah, I have this great idea for a book. What would you suggest for getting it published?" Huh? Where to start? I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, remembering that I was at the beginning of this journey once, too, and just as clueless. And it is a journey. Usually, a short way into the explanation of how it all happened for me, they lose interest. If not, then I know I might have a true writer on my hands, and I do what I can to nurture them. This business is not for the faint of heart!

  • Lily

    >My typical answer would have been, 'yes'.

  • Don

    >"I'm going to tell you what I told Stephenie Meyers when she asked the same thing. The one thing that every bestselling author does is simply"

  • Gary Corby

    >Advice to a new Author on seeking an Agent:

    You seek them with thimbles, you seek them with care,

    You pursue them with forks and hope,

    You threaten their lives with a railway-share,

    You charm them with smiles and soap.

    And if you should find one at home or away;

    In the midst of your laughter and glee,

    You'll softly and suddenly vanish away,

    For the Agent's a Boojum, you see.

  • Jill

    >"Darned if I know. I just work here."

    OR

    "Start with a few years in a psychiatric ward. We're big on research."

  • Jim

    >Your answer is simply this:

    http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/

    :)

  • Holly Bodger

    >Of course! Just see http://www.google.com.

  • Katie Ganshert

    >Okay – these are halarious! I LOVE Don's…his seriously made me laugh out loud.

    Sorry, right now I got nothin'. I'll try to come back later to play.

  • Michael S. Hyatt

    >I get similar questions all the time. I wrote an article on my blog called, “Advice to First-Time Authors.” When I get the question in Twitter (which I do several times a day). I just tweet this: “I would start by reading my post, ‘Advice to First Time Authors.’ It provides step-by-step guidance: http://is.gd/cqVr.” I even have it tied to a macro via Typnator, so I type three characters, hit the space bar, and the tweet is posted.

  • Holly Bodger

    >Thanks to my husband (who is even more sarcastic than me…shocking I know) I have an even better link to give him:

    http://tinyurl.com/ojug73

  • Pam Halter

    >Learn the craft by attending conferences or workshops, join a writer's group, read blogs, write an excellent story, rewrite several times, study the market, submit queries and write another story while you wait. And wait. And wait.

  • ~Aimee States

    >"Advice? You are cracked nuts in a hand basket for wanting to do exactly what you're doing. Knowing how much of a struggle it is, allow me to spare you from a spiral into obsessive madness. STOP IT NOW."

  • Krista Phillips

    >Okay, in the spirit of FUNNY and NOT serious:

    *sure! get their home address from yellowpages.com & pay them a visit. Face to face, man!

    *Stalk them. Agents LOVE LOVE LOVE stalkers.

    *Send them a lot of money & chocolate. Bribery WORKS, dude!

    Ohhhhh, since Michael Hyatt had a GREAT answer to your dilemma too… (and really, I like his answer… linking them to a specific post) you could just go for the:

    *Sure! Follow Michael Hyatt on twitter and ask him! He won't mind…

  • Jessica

    >LOL Krista's cracked me up!

    Sorry about your day. :-( At least the guy didn't get all upset, which I didn't even think your answer was so bad.

    I like other people's answers about googling. Seriously, you can find an answer to probably any question just by searching around the net for a bit.

  • Sharon A. Lavy

    >Thanks for giving me an idea for a morning tweet.

  • Richard Mabry

    >I actually answered Chris and suggested he read the current issue of Writer's Digest, which contains a gold-mine of info about securing an agent. And he tweeted back his thanks.
    That having been said, if asked for the Twitter version of this advice, I'd say "Attend writers' conferences, read agents' blogs, polish and re-polish your work until it shines, and learn something from every rejection."
    Can't make you laugh with my answer, but I will tell you that, in Texas at least, a "conniption" is the contraction for "conniption fit," another description for a convulsion.

  • Truth4thejourney

    >Hi, I'm new here, found this to be fun.

    Here are my silly answers:

    1) Don't ask on twitter because it makes you look desperate.

    2) How about asking God for an agent?

    I also loved the answers above about stalking them! LOL! These are funny but unfortunately they have probably all been done! Shocking!

    Glad I found your blog, I'm sure I will learn loads of important things.

    Sonya Lee

  • Lisa Karon Richardson

    >You must have a writing credits to get an agent and you must have an agent to submit to an editor. Try reading Catch-22

  • Kelly Combs

    >How about:

    "Glad you asked. I've formulated a guarenteed method of success, and for 4 easy installments of $19.95, I'll be willing to send it to you."

    :-)

  • Iain Broome – Write for Your Life

    >Tell me, is there anywhere on this blog I can leave a response to your post?

  • Rachelle

    >WOW, I'm loving all these hilarious responses! Thanks for making me laugh — and keep 'em coming!

    I'm enjoying the serious answers too. Now I'll have a whole stockpile.

    Iain Broome — Sorry, I don't allow comments on this blog.

  • Fay

    >1) Bribe the agent with a yearly supply of coffee or 2) Write a damn good book and an even better query.

  • ginny martyn

    >The process of finding an agent is similar to the tryouts on American Idol…Simon will tell you to give up, Randy will tell you to try again with better material and Paula will give you a hug while you have a meltdown…or kindly use your inappropriate Tweet as basis for a funny blog post.

    Procuring an agent is one part stalking, two parts who you know and three parts …
    Bippity Boppity Boo…

  • Marla Taviano

    >An agent? Why would you want an agent? Do it yourself, and you get to keep ALLLLL your money!!

  • PurpleClover

    >I've heard better agent pickup lines! *wink* Read my blog like everyone else – best advice ever!

    We all have knee-jerk emotions that seem to spew out at the wrong time. I've done it myself and hopefully haven't ruined my chances with any agents on my comments for being overly-defensive. The first step is admittance. Let me know how the rest goes…that's as far as I've gotten. :D

  • ginny martyn

    >Incidentally… I was reading stories about mystical things to my daughter last night and “Bonus Procurator”- Latin for: Good Agent was listed along with Big Foot, The Lost City of Atlantis and WMDs.

  • Matt

    >Hide in the bushes, make noises like a three-book deal. They’ll find you.

  • John UpChurch

    >Response: Why didn't you say so? I've been desperate for new queries from those who have not researched.

  • Kat Harris

    >Uhh? In 140 characters or less? I think you did it already.

    Write a great book. Query agents.

    The only thing I'd add to that is:

    Write a great book. Query agents, but not before its great. First and second drafts are rarely great.

  • Mark H.

    >"No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

    or

    "Did you check the sofa cushions?"

  • Cecelia

    >My 140-character response:
    Visit my blog:xxxx. I give helpful writing and agent advice daily.

  • Levi Montgomery

    >Forget about writing. Starting RIGHT NOW, spend every waking moment mastering the query.

    52 characters left for "hahaha…"

    (the word verification for this comment was "rumvice" – what one gives when people ask questions that catch one off guard)

  • ginny martyn

    >I don't know where they are either but I do know they are NOT in elevators, hotel rooms or bathroom stalls during writers conferences.

  • rachelhestondavis

    >The next time someone asks you if you have advice for a writer, just say "Yes." (you never said you'd GIVE them the advice, just that you had it).

    Rachel Heston Davis
    http://www.rachelhestondavis.wordpress.com

  • CKHB

    >My suggested answer:

    Google: Nathan Bransford, Rachelle Gardener, Janet Reid, Miss Snark, Kristen Nelson, BookEnds. READ BLOGS IN THEIR ENTIRETY. Come back with specific questions.

  • Teri D. Smith

    >Considering some of your recent posts, you could have told him:

    Ask God to tell you to write a book so you can let the agent know she'd better not turn down God.

  • CKHB

    >Holly Bodger, that link is awesome! It's the clean version of the "Just F—— Google It Already" webpage…

  • Katie Hart – Freelance Writer

    >Self-publish your book. If it sells 100,000 copies, call me. If not, it was rubbish anyway. Start over.

  • Joanne Sher

    >Write amazing book. Get it edited. Query. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  • SM Blooding

    >Send cake. Ms inside. Purple paper. Lots of sparkles on top. In SASE.

    See all the acronyms makes it look legit.

  • christa

    >1. Find a haystack.
    2. Get a needle.
    3. Poke around until you hear one scream.

  • Eric

    >Since we're talking about using a Tweet, it must be a short response. Maybe you can reply with something like this:

    Burn your first draft in a pagan ritual to Nabu and spread the ashes across your desk. Breathe the smoky vapors and visualize publication.

    That will fit in one tweet and maybe send them off trying to figure out who Nabu is (incidentally, he was a Babylonian God thought to have provided the invention of writing to man).

  • ~Brenda

    >I'm new at the whole writing business, so I'm not sure I can say much. But I suppose if I were a Rachelle Gardner, and I was asked that question, I would say:

    "Please hold while I dispose of the other 456,997 characters it would take to adequately answer your question."

    Loving this blog and all the info!

    ~Brenda

  • Summer

    >Not much I can add to this except Matt's comment: "Hide in the bushes, make noises like a three-book deal. They’ll find you" just about made me fall out of my chair. Good one!

    And by the way – a conniption fit is something we know all about in the South because they happen a lot down here. They are worse than a dying-duck fit but not as bad as a hissy fit, but then you have a conniption fit for different reasons than you have a hissy fit. A conniption fit involves muttering and yelling. A hissy fit involves throwing things and sometimes guns, depending on whether there is a cheating husband involved. I do not have a cheating husband but I do try to have at least one of each fit daily. Keeps the blood flowing, know what I mean?

  • Rachel Hauck

    >Too funny! This is so weird cause I was thinking of blogging about "finding an agent" over on mybooktherapy.com today. A little insight from an author. :)

    What I think when some one tweets an agent, "Do you have any advice on finding a literary agent?" is they are trying to get YOUR attention.

    They want a response like, "Sure, send me a proposal."

    Ack, thinking back, I'm sure I asked similarly obvious/anoying questions.

    But here's my humoriys answer:

    Want a literary agent?

    Send a query letter telling the agent your friends and family love the book, and that God told you to write this story and send it to this particular agent. (so lucky to be chosen by God for this part of your publishing journey.) Be sure to say how anointed you are to tell this story, and that no other author in Christian fiction is writing about what you are writing. And if they are, they can't say it like you.

    This is how to get a literary agent, for sure!

    Rachel ;)

  • Julie Gillies

    >It's simple, really. Wow a publisher at a writer's conference. Sign a contract on the spot (for a 3 book deal). Then call me.

    Sheesh!

  • Stephanie Faris

    >It's the same as people asking "How do I get more readers to my blog?" not really wanting the REAL answer. They want the easy way out. They want one little thing they can do that takes 5 minutes and requires very little effort. That's my take on it anyway.

  • Angie Arndt

    > Any advice for new writers?

    Pray with all your heart, soul and mind that God will take away your desire to write.

    Repeat every chance you're tempted to pick up a pen or open a new document.

    If you still HAVE to write, then

    1) Learn as much as you can about the biz. (Spend every last cent and every minute you can afford.)
    2) Find a support group (like ACFW) because you're going to need therapy,
    3) Lean on the Lord for strength and guidance, then
    3) Write the story that God gives you.

  • Cindy Swanson

    >Angie said: "Pray with all your heart, soul and mind that God will take away your desire to write.

    Repeat every chance you're tempted to pick up a pen or open a new document."

    I used to have a burning desire to write, but after interviewing many of my favorite authors, I realized that I probably don't have what it takes to make it in an arena that's obviously much more difficult than one might think.

    The wonderful writers who *do* get their books published have more than just writing talent–they have persistence, wisdom, a strong work ethic, and (even though they don't tout this in their query letters) the true direction from God over their careers.

    I'm settling into the realization that I'm probably meant to be like the sportscaster who, when he didn't have what it took to be an athlete, is doing quite well asking the athletes questions–and enjoying getting to be part of something he loves.

    Following Rachelle on Twitter for just a few weeks has been enough to pretty much extinguish any lingering thoughts I had of pursuing publication. So, there you go, Rachelle–you're doing a service! At least one mediocre writer weeded out. :)

  • Megan DiMaria

    >Ha! They say that ignorance is bliss, but who knows?

    I saw a twitter to you the other day that me made me chuckle. It sounded as if the gentleman was doing you a favor by letting you know he "might" be looking for an agent, and what could you do for him.

    I guess it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

    A prisoner of hope,
    Megan

  • Catherine Gayle

    >Become either a drug addict or alcoholic. No one writes well unless they are high/drunk.

  • Samantha Clark

    >DON'T! Resist the urges! Get into a 12-step program as soon as possible!

    On the more serious side, giving him the URL for your blog — because I have to assume a writer hasn't found it yet if he or she is asking that question — is the best advice you can give a new writer.

  • Vipul

    >Become rich. Get famous. Sign contract with Random House. Contact agent. Write amazing book. Oh wait, maybe that's backwards…

  • Tisha Morris

    >Tweet them, of course!

  • Jungle Mom

    >"No. That's above my pay grade."

  • Lea Ann McCombs

    >Name a star after the agent you want and then send her a tweet letting her know.

  • Ernest Hemingway

    >Start drinking heavily.

  • R. K. Mortenson

    >Reply #1: If your mom likes your book, you're in. Send it ASAP.

    Reply #2: If your mom doesn't like your book, no worries. Opinions vary in this business. I'll probably love it. Send.

    Reply #3: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!HOOHOOHOOHOOHOOHOOHOO! TEE-HEE! (*sniff!*) hee.

    Reply #4: Prospective author/client: here's what I suggest. Begin at Lake Itasca. Kayak south. When you reach the Gulf of Mexico, turn around. Kayak north.

  • Mireyah Wolfe

    >"Go read a book. Change character names and general settings. Send book in. Get published. Be sure to have Vampires."

    My grandmother emailed me a few weeks back about how she had about ten thousand words written for her book and if I had any thoughts about agents and publishers.

    I emailed her back that even though I was close to having about sixty thousand on my book, I wasn't even considering looking just yet.

    For some reason, I haven't gotten a reply yet….

  • JennBailey

    >My advice: "Meet Oprah. It's easier and she's more accessible*. Then get her to pull a few strings for you."

    *Agents are accessible. The inaccessibility of agents was dramatized for affect in this Twitter example.

  • XDPaul

    >I definitely have advice: plagiarize Dan Brown, change your name to Dan Brown, call Dan Brown's agent. Oh, did you mean ‘good” advice?

  • awalls

    >Read. A Lot. Write. A Lot. Bang head against desk. A lot. Research. A lot. Edit. Take dogs for a walk (clears head). QUERY RESPONSIBLY.

  • Lynnda – Passionate for the Glory of God

    >Hi Rachelle!

    Here is my tweet suggestion:

    "KNOCK, KNOCK! Who's there? Olive. Olive who? Olive you when you're clueless!
    Now do this:
    Read, Write, Edit, Repeat.
    Google, Query, Print, Delete."

    Have a great week-end,

    Lynnda

    P.S. Thanks, Summer. I live in New Orleans and have NEVER heard a better definition of our southern fits! It had me in a laughing fit!

  • RobinSlick

    >Why, I'd tell them to check Craig's List.

    Under "personals".

    xo
    Robin

  • Charlie

    >The next time you get such a question, give him the name of an agent you want to play a joke on. Tell him this agent appreciates perseverance and to query them hundreds of times a day. Putting sparkly graffiti in every snail mail query would help him stand out from the rest of the unimaginative authors that simply send boring queries.

  • Glynis

    >Take your pen, place it behind your ear.Open writing pad to new page. Take pen from behind ear and write…this agent accepts bribes of chocolates and flowers ;0

  • Beth Harar

    >Find your favorite agent. Become best friends with that agent’s mother. Then ask the mother if she would recommend you to the agent.

  • jess

    >It shouldn't be that hard. Since you're a new "author"–i.e., you've just gotten a book contract–the hard work has already been done.

    So just sit back, wait for your royalty check, and feel sorry for those "writers" who haven't found a publisher yet, much less an agent. Particularly the pretentious ones who already deem themselves "authors."

  • Portia

    >How about:

    "Rewrite"

    or, the long version:

    "When you think you're ready to query, do back and rewrite again."

  • Dee Yoder

    >"You found one. Next question."

  • Elizabeth Bradley

    >Hey, I'm a designer, how about going to a dinner party where the lady of the house takes me by the hand and rushes me upstairs, where she corrals my dumbfounded self in her master bedroom and proceeds to solicit free advice on what color choices she should make? "Give me some tips, but make it fast," she says, "I've got to get back to the kitchen." Some people just don't get it.

  • lisha

    >Agents love persistence: 1. Pitch to them at public urinals. 2. Email followup questions to form rejections. 3. Beg pathetically. Foolproof!

  • Jeannie Campbell, LMFT

    >"Spend less time on twitter, more time querying agents."

  • beth

    >You said it best yourself:

    "Uh, no. Not unless you count my 500 blog posts."

  • David

    >First, bang your thumb with a hammer a hundred and eight times. Trust me, at some point, it stops hurting.

    That'll give you an idea of what it's like to "query widely".

    Still not convinced?

    Picture yourself as the only sane person on Earth, and that the world's inability to appreciate your genius is further evidence of everyone else's insanity.

    No? Not feeling it yet?

    Ah, the best piece of advice for a new author trying to find an agent:

    Quit now. I haven't found my agent yet, and you're just competition.

  • Mariana

    >"I'd tell you if I had enough space, sorry. Or, you can read this: [link to your blog]."

    (lol)

  • M. K. Clarke

    >Any advice for a new author trying to find a literary agent?"

    Invest in Tums, a great computer, & get into pushups. It keeps me & you from gnawing the nails to the elbow–gets the MS & desk messy.

    :)
    ~Missye

  • Janet Reid

    >"Any advice for a new author trying to find an agent?"

    "no"

  • Peter p

    >My response might have been:

    "Oh, now I see why Twitter has a 'block user' feature"

  • katdish

    >Three words:

    Shameless self promotion

    (It works for me, and I'm not even trying to get published.)

  • Wendy

    >I'll let you in on a little secret that I'm not supposed to tell anyone, but I'll tell you. The surefire way to get your book published is

    ;o)

  • Donna Carrick

    >Great blog post, Rachelle! In reply, Roxanne said: This business is not for the faint of heart!

    Oh, Roxanne, you sure got that right! We write and write, agonize and revise, edit and tear down and rebuild and after that is all done we catch some ridiculous plot error that a 5 year old could catch that causes us to tear down and rebuild yet again. Then we query and query some more, and go to conferences, and meet with peers, and live and breathe this "sport" of ours.

    Then some damn fool says "Yeah, one of these days I'm' going to write a REALLY GOOD book — I've got some REALLY GOOD ideas. (Not at all like my suckie ideas, I'm sure!)

    But hey, not being one to sulk, I'll usually pat the damn fool on the back and say "Hey, when you do, best of luck!"

    After 7 manuscripts and on my third publication, I can honestly confirm — it is not for the faint of heart!!

    Best to all who love this "sport" as much as I do!
    Donna Carrick
    http://www.donnacarrick.com

  • thelittlefluffycat

    >Write a great book & a great query. Research great agents. Send. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • Todd

    >I think Don's wins the prize, but I'd also suggest:

    Finish writing your book. Edit your book. Then write another book, which will be better than your first one.

    (108 characters)

  • Katie Ganshert

    >This has by far been my favorite roll of comments to read through! My husband just asked what I was laughing about. After this week, I really needed the laughs! I'd love to see a top ten list. :)

    Rachelle, you could just really confuse them and tweet back:

    I'm still looking for somebody to represent me. So how should I know?

  • Alexis

    >Response: "Try looking at the end of the rainbow."

    :)

  • JJ (Lady Di)

    >Follow katdish on twitter and get her teach "shameless self promoting". ;)

  • JJ (Lady Di)

    >Follow katdish on twitter and get her teach "shameless self promoting". ;)

  • Anonymous

    >"Yes. Never use your real name when asking such a question."

  • emilymurdoch

    >Love your blog!

    "Any advice for a new author trying to find a literary agent?"

    1)Google: "querying literary agents"

    2) Check out: AbsoluteWrite.com, or QueryTracker.net, the forums.

    3)Remember the three P's: Perseverance, Perspiration, and Palominos.

    (Riding a horse always helps in one way or another. Can't be thinking of writing, queries, requests, rejections while on a 1000 lb animal with a mind of its own.)

    4)"Things will never be the same again".

    Considering the fact that we consist of millions of writers vying for one of those 172,000 "musical chairs" (roughly how many books published in a year), not to mention the nail-cuticle-lip biting angsty waits on fulls and partials,

    6)Are you crazy? Get out while you can! Run! Don't look back!"

    I envy this guy his innocence. I was that innocent just two years ago. Just as I learned,

    7) Research, research, research,

    So will he.

    Welcome, new initiate. : )

    All joking aside:

    8)Before you query an agent, read their website and/or blog.

  • Tara

    >1. Have someone besides your mother tell you it's great. 2. Find someone who can tell you why it stinks. 3. Sprinkle with fairy dust (or prayer). 4. Submit.

  • Sara J. Henry

    >Here's how I got an agent (a wonderful one, I have to add):

    -Wrote a book
    -Rewrote the book
    -Rewrote again
    -Enlisted several readers
    -Rewrote again
    -Enlisted more readers
    -Rewrote yet again
    -Revised until I was literally wearing Band-Aids on my fingers because they were so sore from typing
    -Wrote an apparently kick-ass query letter and included my short first chapter
    -Sent it to agents who repped books I loved (Google is your friend), who I knew through cyberspace, or who I'd happened to meet

    The rewriting phase took more brain cells and energy than I knew I possessed. Getting agent offers took less than three weeks from initial queries. (I was prepared to settle in for a long wait; it didn't happen.)

    And yeah, book deal followed, and my head's still spinning.

    (I will say that many many people query far too early, long before their book is ready, and many need to take a hatchet to their query letter.)

  • sallyhanan

    >Imagine you've been a drug addict most of your life. Write as if you were. Tell Oprah about your miraculous salvation from the drug scene and "Oh, whaddya know, I have written a book." Agents will spring from the walls (but they might regret it later).

  • Shannon Taylor Vannatter

    >Write three books without ever reading a book on craft or attending a conference. After 113 rejections, sign the first Print On Demand contract for eternity that comes along. And be sure the book has a cliffhanger ending, so when the POD company overprices it and doesn't place it in bookstores, it will only sell 108 copies, so when the publisher won't publish the sequel, then you've got 108 readers hanging over the cliff.

    Now, I'll be serious. Enter contests for feedback, join American Christian Fiction Writers and attend their conferences, even if you have to sell your firstborn to do it. Okay, halfway serious.

  • Anonymous

    >"Any advice for a new author trying to find a literary agent?"

    Hide between pages one and two of yesterday's bestseller.

  • Linda Norman

    >In Sunday School I mentioned I was going to attend a writer's conference. After class, four people came to me and asked advice because they had always wanted to write.
    I invited them to attend the conference with me – it was free, 20 miles away and run by two published authors. Not one of them showed up.
    I attend conferences, two critique groups and spend time writing [besides working a full time job]- I am learning and may never get published.
    My advice – invest your time and money and good luck.

  • Meryl K. Evans

    >You can always tell 'em "elem-geeteefy." (Waiting for y'all to look perplexed). Here you go: http://lmgtfy.com/

    ;)

  • Anonymous

    >I hear you can sometimes find a good agent on eBay…whoops! Scratch that, the auction ended last night! – Lance

  • pj schnyder

    >"Your Google-fu needs work, Grasshopper. Read agent blogs. Lurk and learn."

    Just figuring to get one in there that was a little different. ;)

    On another note, you truly ARE an awesome person to be so considerate of the original trigger to the post. :)

  • Dr. David and Lisa Frisbie

    >Two steps: 1) Become famous for something; and 2) screen your calls.

  • Jim Rubart

    >Writte gud.

  • Doug Spurling

    >Don't Quit

  • Linore Rose Burkard

    >This reminds me of the many people who ask me what book to read to research the Regency (the setting of my fiction). It's a perfectly natural question, but there is no one easy answer. We were just discussing this on the HisWriters email loop, and the thing is, you can't find everything you need to write in this genre in one place.

    I explained that you go about researching and picking up bits and pieces in different places. When you put it all together, you've got a good working knowledge of the Regency–the days when Jane Austen was publishing and Dickens was just a kid. This is likely true for most any historical genre–and hey, it might even apply to finding an agent–unless you read this blog, of course.

    (Rachelle–incidentally, I just recommended your blog in a little ebook I put together for the FaithWriters Conference where I gave a workshop on Book Marketing. Anyone reading can access the ebook directly if they like:
    http://www.LinoreBurkard.com/TheLittleBookofMarketingTips.pdf )

    Enjoy.

  • Marcia

    >My response –

    Would love to reply but I'm on my way to my support group.

  • Vivienne

    >Umm. Perhaps this case is really ridiculous & the guy's just an amateur but with Twitter you never know how to ask professionals nicely. Since I want to get into publishing & work either for a publishing house or a literary agency I follow publishing people but since they keep giving advice for authors only once in a while I send them a DM & ask them for tips on how to get into publishing. It seems I was lucky I got a really nice & helpful advice from Rachelle in 140 characters. Previously I also sent a DM to the person behind Random House. I gave him or her (sorry that I don't know) my e-mail address where s/he could send his or her reply. She or he didn't even bother to say, sorry I don't want to help you. So what's better if I give you my mail address straight away or just imply you'll give me tips in 140 characters? I turn to you in the belief that you are all nice people but sometimes reading your rants on Twitter or elsewhere you (literary agents) seem to be so inapproachable.
    Vivienne

  • Bonnie Bruno

    >Roll your handwritten novel, rubberband it, and toss it on their front step early Saturday morning.

  • Peaches

    >There can never be too many m&ms. There's even a math equation about it: writing quality varies directly to m&m quantity. And if they're a good agent, they like m&ms too.
    Or if they don't, there's more for ME.

  • Rachelle

    >Vivienne,

    Agents are "inapproachable" for very good reason. As you can imagine, we get hundreds of inquiries a week (including queries). There's no possible way to answer them all and still have time to serve our clients and run a viable business.

    Therefore, those of us who really want to help others write blogs, and post tips on twitter. Unfortunately, we simply can't answer every question, or sit at our desks dispensing advice all day to hopeful writers. Everything you need to know about publishing is on the internet somewhere; much of it is also in books. It's your task to find it.

    When you eventually have an agent, trust me, you'll be very thankful that your agent doesn't spend her day answering random publishing questions from the masses. You'll want to be secure in the knowledge that your agent is doing her job to serve YOU. So even when you get frustrated, remember that. Agents and editors must focus on doing the job they're paid to do. Every blog post or tweet from an agent is a free gift, and we hope it is appreciated.

  • Gini Grey

    >Well, besides stalking an agent, dating one and then leaving your manuscript out on the table by accident, pitching them at writers conferences, and praying, trusting law of attraction and so forth, the obvious has already been stated. But I would recommend reading blogs by writers who have had success in getting an agent for their ideas. For example, Laurie Kienlen who blogs on Quips and Tips for Successful Writers, put together a proposal for a non-fiction book idea, queried 17 agents and had two responses – one she signed a contract with. This inspires me as a writer. She has examples of her query letters on her site.

  • Anita

    >Write the best book ever and the agents will find you.

  • Terri

    >Hmmm . . .

    How about,

    "Eat, Pray, Love"

    Been done? Dang it?

    How about,

    "Eats Shoots and Leaves" or in the alternative "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves"

    Whhhaaaaat? That's gone too?

    How about "Read, Write, Query" followed by "Lather, Rinse, Repeat"

    Great post! Terri

  • Lucy

    >Reed N. Lurk says:

    Personally give agents pencils printed with glittering space monkeys and your name, phone number, website and microdot blurb.

  • Amy L. Sonnichsen

    >STEP 1: Write a GREAT novel.

    STEP 2: Spend at least one year as a zookeeper, preferably in charge of some sort of enormous animal with horns. I recommend a rhino.

    STEP 3: On a daily basis, go into the animal's cage and lie down on the floor. Allow the animal to run back and forth, back and forth over your prostrate form.

    STEP 4: Query agents.

    See? Piece a' cake.

  • Vivienne

    >Dear Rachelle,
    Thanks for your reply to my comment. I understand what you're trying to say. You are right, there are million blogs about the publishing business just like about how to publish your book. And candidates from either side should really look there for information. It's just you sometimes like to ask people whose face you know in the first round. And I'm not talking about the less serious ones.
    Bests,
    Vivienne

  • Laurie Boris

    >Wait until the next full moon, and then sacrifice a Dell laptop by hurling it off a cliff while howling at the top of your lungs, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Than go buy a Mac and write something astounding. And yes, proper grammar counts.

    Alternate path: Become a left handed Iranian lesbian hermaphrodite with bipolar disorder. This should immediately get you an agent, a book auction, guaranteed inclusion in the Oprah book club, and an option for a screenplay. (No offense to left-handed people, Iranians, lesbians, hermphrodites, or those with bipolar disorder. With this disclaimer, my lawyer says my butt is covered.)

  • Terri

    >This reminded me of a post on the message board of a notorious vanity-press-that-pretends-not-to-be-a-vanity-press.

    The question was priceless:

    "Does anyone know where I can pick up an agent?"

    I will let that one stand alone . . .

  • Terresa

    >As an unpublished author, I'm going from my gut here:

    1. Invest in a bouncy house and lots of fine chocolate.

    2. Write a great book and vent with the bouncy house and chocolate.

    3. If there's any chocolate left by the time you're done with your masterpiece, send some to a literary agent (or is that considered bribing?).

  • MoziEsmé

    >Let me ask this question – do you have any advice on BECOMING a literary agent? It sounds like something I would love to do…

  • Laura Christianson

    >Rachelle,

    I laughed when I saw this post; the same thing happens on my ExploringAdoptionBlog.com every week. I have over 800 articles on it, most of which are information about various aspects of adoption. Yet I constantly receive e-mails that read, "Tell me about the pros and cons of adopting."

    I received so many requests during "research paper season" (the end of fall and spring semesters for high school and college students) that I finally got fed up and wrote a post titled, "No, I Will NOT Write Your Research Paper About Adoption" (http://tinyurl.com/ob9gv8).

    In the post, I include links to some of my most popular "pro/con" articles, hints on how to use my site's internal Search feature, and even a sample bibliography entry (in case they decide to quote me).

    Now, whenever I get a request from someone to do their homework for them, I just send them the link to that post. Works like a charm!

    Laura Christianson
    Author of "The Adoption Decision" and "The Adoption Network"

  • Bridelines

    >I feel the pain of the author asking…because I've been asking that question for a while…and I finally got an agent last week!! You just need to KEEP ON QUERYING. There are so many agents and you need to search every single website possible to find all of them!

  • Jennifer Madsen

    >LOL How about….

    Stop tweeting and go "tighten" your book.

    ;-)

  • Amber Argyle-Smith

    >Go shoot yourself in the big toe. It'll be much less painful.

  • H.Nance

    >Write you idea on a clay pot. Glaze it and bake it.Send it to the agent with flowers in it. Pray… until they call.

    Might want to put your ph.# on the pot too! Up high, not on the bottom. That increases your visibility!

  • Anonymous

    >Just looked up conniption: a fit of rage, hysteria, or alarm

    Just an FYI

    :-)

  • Ebony McKenna.

    >Hi Rachelle,
    in the past few weeks, a couple of friends have asked me to give them general writing advice – because they've decided to write a book.

    So I'm going to send them here . . .

    kthxbai!
    *runs and hides*

  • JB

    >1. Why? Isn't good writing working for you?

    2. Advice? You mean like, don't send inane tweets to agents?

    3. Advice? Sure! Go catch a falling star and wish upon it in a jar. (More effective than your current strategy.)

    4. Advice? Boy do I! I'll trade you for advice on how to bug the bejesus out of literary agents.

    5. I can haz book deel?

  • Nurit – 1 family. friendly. food

    >I'd challenge him back: "Any advice for a literary agent trying to find promising new authors?"

  • Mary’s Place

    >Where does one start, lets get to the heart. Go to the net and follow the set who knows what to do, to kindly help you. Visit the blogs like Rachelle Gardner and Mike Hyatt. Follow the leads, and Ill know you'll buy it. Proceed from there and you will see that they care. And you will find sucess and not lose your hair.
    In His Love and Care, Mary

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