Blog Blast: Literary Agents’ Advice for Writers

Happy weekend, all! As a followup to my last post, I’ve gathered recent posts composed by literary agents for writers. I hope you find them as insightful as I did.

Have the BEST book idea? Mike Larsen, of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents, shares 16 Questions for Test-Marketing Your Book Idea on his award-winning blog. 

Think your book is publish-ready? In her post, I Don’t Believe You, Janet Reid, of Fine Print Literary Management, suggests you think again.

Can publishers predetermine which books will sail to the top of the charts? No, according Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Gain her insight here: A “Sure Thing?” 

Eager to attract an agent? Dawn Dowdle, of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, shares her top pointers here: Agent Advice.

Frustrated by having to write AND build your platform? Read Publishing in a Brave New World: Rachel Gardner, of WordServe Literary Group, on the value of publishers and why authors should stop complaining about platform-building.

Thinking of wallpapering your home with rejection letters? Carly Watters, associate agent at the P.S. Literary Agency, tells us How to Avoid the Rejection Blues.

Thinking of attending a writer’s conference? Learn How to “Pick-Up” a Literary Agent and other conference tips from former literary agent and founder and CEO of Literary Agent Undercover, Mark Malesta.

Pssst! Contrary to popular belief, literary agents are not only humans, but often congenial, helpful and sharp as whips. (Few pout as much as Rosie.) The first agent to read my manuscript sent me such a kind “rejection” letter, I considered adding his family to my holiday gift list. My perhaps worst response came from a woman who said she found my novel “quite disturbing” and that I best convert the whole thing into a family drama. Seeing as I write suspense thrillers, I wasn’t offended. 😉 I did, however, question my agents-to-approach picking skills…

Have an agent-related story to share? Lessons you’ve learned or are grappling with?

Interact in Moderation: How Commingling Breeds Success

When I completed my first novel, I called my mother, somewhat farklempt. “Take a nap,” she said. “You just birthed a novel.”

‘Creativity’ has historically been used interchangeably with the term ‘genius,’ a Latin word derived from the Greek ‘ginsethai.’ Translation? “To be born.” In other words, Mom was right on that birthing bit.

And our creative artistry may require as much…um, pleasurable interaction as literal ‘birthing’ does. (No, I’m not referring to THAT type of interaction, although hmm… I do think that helps. Another blog topic entirely…) Back to my point.

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in Nov. 2009, researchers found a significant link between creativity and social interaction among corporate employees. Employees with intermediate social interaction exhibited significantly more creativity than those with weak or strong social ties.

We can take this to mean that A) sitting at home in our writing caves 24/7 can zap our creativity, B) partying every night and much of our days on Twitter, Facebook and other social media what-have-yous can do the same, and C) moderate amounts of social engagement can boost your creative juices. Yeah-oo!

Writers conferences provide an awesome opportunity for concentrated amounts of interaction so that we can spend most of our time in between with our craft.

Last week, I had the joy of spending several days at Bouchercon—an annual convention where readers, creators and devotees of crime fiction unite. As usual, I experienced the slightest bit of guilt before leaving Los Angeles. I should be writing. Is it worth the time “off?” Perhaps I’m spending too much money. Seeing as it wasn’t my first conference, I already knew the answers to my concerns: You’ll probably write there. Your writing will improve as a result. This IS part of your work. DUH, of COURSE it’s worth it. And important. And a blast.

I connected with friends I met last year, made new ones and experienced more than a few epiphanies regarding my writing throughout. In a word, it was inspiring. One highlight involved meeting Pat Frovarp and Gary Shulze—co-owners of the “Once Upon a Crime” bookstore in Minneapolis, near my former stomping ground and where I hope to have my first Midwestern book signing.

And now I’m back in my L.A. “office” (my bull dog-topped sofa), with heightened vigor for my writing routine. And see? I’m still finding time to pop in, post, Tweet, FB, etc.

If you’ve considered attending a writers conference and haven’t yet taken the leap, please do so. I can almost guarantee you’ll thank me. 😉

A few fabulous resources:

Southern California Writers Conference Open to all genres and levels; craft, business, fiction/nonfiction; tight-nit group with lots of support. A great place to start! For a fee, have some of your writing reviewed by an agent, editor or author.

Bouchercon 2012 Plenty of time to prepare/save up, etc. 😉 For readers, writers, agents, publishers, book sellers and editors of crime fiction. Fantastic panels and speakers, fun fun fun!

Dallas Fort Worth Writers Conference Ample access to agents and others pros, terrific speakers, workshops, etc.

Writers Conferences and Centers Search for conferences by keyword.

Comment on your experiences or goals regarding writers conferences or similar interactions (clubs, critique groups, etc). One lucky winner will win a $15 Amazon.com gift card!