How I got my agent . . .

When I’d written (and rewritten) a good draft of A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT and needed to start submitting it to publishers, I knew I needed an agent. I wanted to be smart about my search, so first I read Donald Maass’s book THE CAREER NOVELIST to figure out what kind of agent I wanted.

career novelist

Then I read Jeff Herman’s book on literary agents and editors because it not only told me what each agent was looking for, but all kinds of extras: their hobbies, pet peeves, backgrounds. I listed every possible agent for me on 3 x 5 cards and then stacked them in order of preference with my faves at the top of the stack.

J Herman bk

As I composed my query letter, I remembered some advice I’d heard from Noah Lukeman (author of THE FIRST FIVE PAGES.) I made sure that in the paragraph describing my book it was clear who the story was about, where it took place (time period and location,) and what the main problem in the story was. (Noah said that if you can’t tell the reader those three things in one paragraph, there’s probably something wrong with your story, not just your query letter.)

first five pages

When I’d polished up my letter, I sent it to the top ten cards on my stack all at the same time. Only one of them wanted to read the manuscript, but that didn’t matter, because that agent was Ann Rittenberg and she signed me and she’s a fabulous agent. I hope those of you out there looking for representation are as fortunate as I was.

Ann Rittenberg

Ann Rittenberg


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