Category Archives: Querying

Agents + Author Agreements

Before considering signing any document remember to do your research. Check out Absolute Write, Publishers Marketplace, AgentQuery, and QueryTracker. Until you sign you’ve done no harm.

Contract Clauses

Some of the paragraphs of your contract should include: a time limit, number of books contracted, scope of representation, commission, subsidiary rights, disbursements, expenses, communication and statements, audit, notices, contacts, powers, bankruptcy, termination, dispute resolution, death (of agent or author),  reversion of unexploited rights, agent leaves agency, and a revised definition of out-of-print and electronic availability clause.

Long ago I worked as a union member. I’ve learned to live within and honor contracts. If every contingency is addressed then both parties know what is expected. Knowing the rules helps teams work together.

How to get there?

Any questions that come up during negotiations should be included within the 2536572_Tcontract or be addressed in a letter of understanding. What happens if the author writes outside their genre? What if the agent hates the author’s next book? How does the author get their money? Does the agent have right of attorney? How long is an author expect to wait for a response to a communication? Does the agent offer editorial, marketing, or public relation services? What happens if the agent leaves the agency? What happens if the author or agent dies?

No contract can cover everything. But what you can do is consider the most common issues, agree on what the rules, or the acceptable actions. That way the focus is on business success rather than anything else.

Is there anything I should have included that is missing? Any advice for us?

Reference Material:


How to Prepare to Meet Your Agent

In my first post about an agent calling I was rewarded with more information. Sometimes instead of a phone call, an email is sent asking for a valentine-145353_1280phone appointment. I had to agree this an excellent use of time management.

Before committing, make sure you allow enough time to refresh your memory about why you submitted and make sure what you thought is still true.

This is not out of order. Webpages get updated, and wish lists change. What could sell six months ago might be hard to give away. And lastly, all agents research a possible client before reaching out, so they must see something in you.

It saves time and energy to be prepared.

I suggest you follow their example. Check their website, blog and any posted interviews. Look for recent sales, client list, publishers they query, professional associations, and their latest #mswl Manuscript Wish List. Try not to waste valuable phone time asking questions that have been asked + answered. Use them to pique other questions specific to your needs.

Once you’ve found the basics here are some other topics to consider:
• Plans for your booksocial-367942_1280
• Possible markets
• Recent sales in your genre
• References (clients and publishers)
• Is the book ready or are you facing more revisions
• Are they involved in the promotion of your work
• Why do they want to represent you or your book?
• The contract and its highlights
• Business hours and preferred communication methods

Note: I’m going to assume that you’ve submitted to reputable agents and have checked reliable online resources such as Publishers Marketplace, AgentQuery, and QueryTracker to verify all is true.

There are hundreds of questions to ask someone you don’t know, so I’ve probably missed a few :-). I suggest keeping the questions open ended, and professional. What questions would you ask?

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When An Agent Calls

There will be a moment after hunting down, and submitting to agent after agent when they call you back. That’s right. They call you. You know why? Because you’ve piqued their interest and they want to sign you discuss signing you.

Rejections come in email form. Not so for the acceptance.

That alone is very exciting but there’s more. When the call comes you need to think about things. Things like staying calm and not sounding like a lunatic. That dandelion-335222_1280lunatic part is more for me than anyone. I make absolutely no sense when upset or excited. I always need a moment to gather my thoughts and enhance my calm.

So when they call, take a deep breath and know this. They just want to chat. It’s a more of a getting to know you moment than a marriage proposal. This is exciting for them too or at least I hope so. They may have found their next big money making client.

And that my friend would be you.

So after sharing how excited you are about them calling, and thanking them for their interest in your work, you are going to ask for some time to think things over. Explain you’d like to use the time to prepare some intelligent questions on what might happen next.

I know this will be hard. You can’t say yes no matter how much you want to.
Picture this. You see a possible spouse candidate on the bus. You smile. They approach you and one of you proposes… Gak.

What comes from this?

If one of you asks the other to go for coffee sometime or a drink, there is a slower stride that may lead somewhere. It’s comfortable. Bit by bit each of you will discover if you’re made for this partnership.

When you call your candidate or they call back, you’ll be more prepared for what happens next. Whether it works or not, you’ve lost nothing but a little time.

Anyone out there have an agent? Care to share (very generally) how it came to wolf-159979_1280pass after you got your call? Anything you’d’ve done differently? I’m sure we’re dying to know.

For the record. My call didn’t come. 😦



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IWSG #15 – Twitter Pitching Results

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.


Last month I reported my info on #PitchMad and since then I’ve done a second pitch party called #WritePit. Both were heart pounding fun. At first I hoped (prayed) for just one fave to prove that my pitches weren’t as bad as they suddenly looked.

I worked so hard. I needed twenty four tweets; one for every half hour of the twelve hour party. It is suggested that no two be the same. Beside the #WritePit or #PitchMad, they also asked for hashtags indicating genre and probable audience which knocked my 140 character closer to 130.

And I got Faves!!. It was amazing. After my first fave, I was so elated I knew I’d never stop using the twitter pitch to reach out.  I’ve been asked to submit seven times—five publishers and two agents. It feels good to have them approaching me rather than the other way around.

So far no acceptance, but a strange thing happened while I sent off my hopeful submissions. Confidence raised its head and urged me to submit elsewhere. So my plan is to send another batch of submissions out to my top ten agents.

Top ten, you ask.

Yes, a recent tweet reminded me of something we should all keep in mind when setting a goal.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.


Anyway the insecurity is on the down low and the swollen head is up high. I’m going to daisies-676368_1920enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

How’s life treating you? Try any pitch parties? Submit? I love to read about it. 🙂

Query Letters — Bio and Closing

So far I’ve touched on the  subject line, hook/personalization of the query letter, leaving the book blurb for the thousands of posts already in blogosphere. Today I’d like to bring up the author bio.

Think of the bio as quick or mini resume. You’ll want to include previous work scribbling-152216experience, training, awards, etc. All the information needs to fit into one paragraph and needs to be aimed specifically toward your writing career.

This mini resume doesn’t include hobbies, likes & dislikes, etc. The receiver of the letter knows the most important thing about you and that is you’re a writer with a goal.

If you don’t have writing credits that’s fine. Most publishers/agents want to know how much experience you’ve gotten under your belt. It doesn’t have to be publications. What writing associations do you belong to? What crit groups do you belong to? Did you submit this story and it win an award? Check the submission page for specific questions they want to know about you and be sure to share here. Include online links, and keep in mind they will look you up.

Sooooo, your blog/website is the place for a more detailed bio if you want to introduce the full package. Here you can include general life experiences, education, hobbies, and even where you live (but for safety sake social-367942_1280keep your personal information general). Make sure your online pages are up-to-date, including twitter, facebook, instagram, and all the rest of them.

Back to the query, the last paragraph is very important. Here you thank your editor/agent for their time (they’re extremely busy and have made time to look at this letter), invite them to contact you (think of this as a warm handshake), and express a hope to hear from them soon. Be friendly, and professional when wrapping it up.

In closing you can use the standard: sincerely yours, best regards, etc. with your name directly under it. After all the work you put into this, don’t forget to follow all submission guidelines. Failure to do so will be an immediate rejection. They will not open your email.

Good luck and I hope this gets you to the next step — a partial request or better yet a full. 🙂

Writers: Are there any tips that helped you get to the next step?

Book Bloggers: I know we don’t write the same kind of letter to you for review, but I encourage you to add any feedback you feel is appropriate. 🙂

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