Anatomy of a Winning Query

Have you noticed that agents tend to talk a lot about what not to do in a query, but less about what makes a great one? It think it’s because the good ones are each unique; it’s hard to come up with a formula that makes a terrific query. But the unexciting or badly composed queries have a lot in common with each other; many people make the same mistakes, and we’re just trying to help you avoid them. It’s much easier to say what not to do than describe what to do! Nevertheless, I’ve been wanting to write a post answering the question, “What makes you immediately want to say YES to a query?” Yesterday I got the perfect opportunity. I received a query that made my heart palpitate and my fingers stumble all over each other as I typed the response...
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The Magic: It’s the People

I had a meeting scheduled with a woman to talk about her writing. I’d never met her before. I was stressed and having a rough week, and I’d considered postponing the meeting until a time when I could have more brain space. But it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. So as I was getting ready for the meeting, I prayed that God would show me how I could be a blessing to this writer. But then I realized I could really use some blessing, too. (Rough week, remember.) So I prayed something I usually don’t: Let her be a blessing to me, too. When I got to the meeting and sat down and we started talking, I immediately felt a kinship with her. I was fascinated by her story, loved her writing, really heard her heart. We started finding little connections between...
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THE MAGIC: The Joy of Discovery

Have you ever read a wonderful novel and thought, I really want to meet this writer? Wouldn’t it be great to sit down and chat over coffee with your favorite authors? There’s something about a well-written novel that makes you want to get to know the person who put their heart and soul into creating it. That was one of the biggest motivations for me to enter this business. I’m a voracious reader and I absolutely adore fiction, and there’s nothing more exciting to me than working with authors on their books. I especially enjoy that moment when I’m reading a new manuscript and start to get goosebumps because it’s so good. When I realize… I can’t stop turning the pages. It’s a thrill I can’t compare to anything else. Back when I was an in-house...
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The MAGIC I spent all last week on a rather dry rundown of the publishing process and I really started to bore myself. I want to talk about another side of this whole literary journey. I want to talk about the MAGIC. Isn’t that why we’re all here anyway? The love of the written word, the incomparable joy in a story well told, the aha moments in those books that change our lives with the turn of a phrase? Surely there is nothing more magical than the feel of a hot-off-the-press volume in your hand. The smoothness of the cover, the weight of the paper, the fresh brand-newness of it—and mostly, the promise of what lies within. Yes, even as an agent, my heart is in the magic. Sure, I love the business side too. I thrive on submitting and selling and contracts and negotiating. I love the...
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