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Learning How to Talk to Agents

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

I've been looking over agents, lists of agents (check out: here, here, and here), requirements for agents... everything lately. I feel like people talk about literary agents, but sort of as this far away planet that maybe one day we'll get to experience, but no one is asking wtf do I say to one when I need to approach them? From what I'm seeing, it's all about the query letter and the book proposal. Short Fuse has two amazing resources to help writers with these, check out their 'How to' for Queries and their 'How to' for Proposals and experience having your mind semi-put to ease.

The query is nice, no lie. I wrote a query letter for my novel today and was very pleased. The book proposal is the woooorst though. Luckily for all my fiction writing friends, it seems as though the book proposal is typically reserved for nonfiction endeavors. I'm planning on adding in statistics, comparable works, and even similar books that went on to become movies. Anything to make my novel sound marketable, cause that's what the book proposal is for. It's very much you stating whether or not your book will make money and why.

Or at least that's how it feels at the moment. I'll be completely honest, I'm only... two pages into my book proposal since I only started it today. I wonder if agents who ask for book proposals see less submissions in the nonfiction genre? It definitely feels like a deterrent, but at the same time maybe it means that with fewer nonfiction submissions, mine is more likely to be picked up if I do the work? Hmmmm...

My poetry manuscript is still under review at two companies now, and I have not heard back from the agents I originally sent it to, so I think it's time to braaaaaanch out and tree this project right in the face. Which is to say, I'm going to start aggressively submitting my poetry manuscript after I spruce up my query letter.

Writing things I completed this week:

-Went to a writing sprint! It was useful in that I wrote quite a few poem drafts and completely trashed any horror novel aspirations I may have had for the time being.

On a side note to this, as I connect more and more with writing communities from my MFA, the Macon Writer's Group, in Beijing... I'm really noticing a universality to the types of questions writers are asking: sci-fi tropes, sci-fi around the world, first person versus third person, preferred reader's writing style, what to include in a nonfiction story, etc.. I should put together a list of books for people who are interested to read. that helps to answer these questions.

-Wrote tons of poem drafts that I need to type up!

-Wrote two outlines for two very different stories this week and am looking at how to schedule my time to potentially work on both simultaneously. I feel as though both could be beneficial endeavors, particularly for getting my foot into writing full time. Apparently my work schedule is going to be crayyyyyy all the way through August, so I'm working my way down a list of things rather slowly: 1) Send novel queries

2) Send poetry queries

3) First chapter each novel that I outlined

4) Keep individual poetry subs at 30 5) Keep up with the Macon Writer's Group (MWG) 6) Create new poems

I'm thinking my week will look something like: Friday: Create proposal, send off novel queries, send work to MWG Saturday: Poetry Queries, type up poem drafts and finish them

Sunday: Chapter one novel Monday: Chapter one other novel Not like that will happen so nice and orderly though... I see you life, waiting to fuck up my best laid plans. Enjoy these photos of Chaoyang park in Beijing, and I'll see you next week!


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