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Month: September 2015

31 Ways to Snag a Literary Agent


I’m so glad you made it here to My Place Beneath the Pines. I am really excited about this series. It has been swimming around in my brain for over a year now, and I’ve been dying to get it onto paper. My name is Jessie and I am a literary agent with The Blythe Daniel Agency, which is in Colorado Springs. I however, am a Texas gal. I am a mom to triplets, married to the Coach, and live in a tiny dot of a town beneath the East Texas Pines. This January will mark my fourth year as an agent, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Before I was an agent, I was in sales, and owned a promotional products company. Currently, I represent both fiction and non-fiction in the Christian (CBA) & General Market (ABA). For the next 31 days, I am going to teach you 31 Ways To Snag a Literary Agent. This is the most common question that my clients are asked, “How did you get a literary agent?” You see, this question never gets old and it rarely gets answered, because every author has a unique experience. If you know ten authors who have already gotten agents, then you probably know ten different stories as to how they got theirs.

I’ll tell you some atypical things about the way I sign people: I rarely sign from a query letter, a few times I’ve been so impressed with an author that I’ve signed them on the spot (although this is really rare), and I have signed quite a few clients by scouting them (meaning I found them on the glorious world-wide web instead of them querying me). Oh how I love to surprise people with contracts. Maybe I’m weird. But, seriously, I love to reward amazing writing, and I take great pleasure in finding talent in obscure, undiscovered places. It’s like Christmas…all the time.  I can’t speak for other agents, but I hope that when this series is over, you have a better understanding of what YOU should do next in order to snag the agent of your dreams. Check back here daily for other posts in this series or subscribe here to get the entire series delivered straight to your inbox.




Day 1: Wait Well
Day 2: Start a Blog and Write on it Frequently
Day 3: Go to a Writer’s Conference
Day 4: Hook Me in the First Sentence
Day 5: Personalize Your Pitch
Day 6: Ask for An Appointment
Day 7: Listen and Revise Accordingly
Day 8: Write Articles
Day 9: Enter a Writing Contest
Day 10: Have a Team
Day 11: Secure Writing Endorsements
Day 12: Tell Me a Story Only You Can Tell
Day 13: Don’t Bash Your Old Agent
Day 14: Be Proactive About Growing Your Platform
Day 15: Be Finished
Day 16: Know Your Characters
Day 17: Ask for a Referral
Day 18: Have a Speaking Career First
Day 19: Pay Attention to Signing Windows
Day 20: Self-Publish Well
Day 21: Take the Offer in a Timely Manner
Day 22: Show Your “Plus” Side
Day 23: “Fixer Upper” Your Email if You Want to Snag an Agent
Day 24: Be Persistent with Reminders
Day 25: Show me the Irony
Day 26: Follow the Submission Guidelines
Day 27: Search #MSWL on Twitter
Day 28: Books to Help you Master Your Craft
Day 29: Ask an Agent Q&A
Day 30: Ask an Agent Q&A Day 2
Day 31: Just Keep Pitching

This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read other topics or join in click here.


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5 Questions to Ask Before You Self or Indie-Publish (@MountHermon)


(Today I’m guest posting over at Mount Hermon. Join me there.)

A common debate right now in the publishing world is whether or not authors should traditionally publish or self-publish. Every writer has heard wildly successful tales from both sides of the fence. As an agent, I fully believe that strong publishing partnerships are priceless. When you find the right publishing house to partner with, your career should be better for it. At the same time, I do think there are certain types of projects, circumstances, seasons—and certain types of writers—that lend themselves well to self-publishing. There are many instances where a quality, self-published title has helped an author get a contract from the agents and publishing houses they hoped to secure in the first place. If you are a writer who is considering the self-publishing route, join me over that the Mount Hermon blog for a few questions to consider before you go on your way.


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Writers Be Brave

I wish you could see me now. One of my sons has decided, as of five minutes ago, that he could probably ponytail my hair. My hair was technically already in a ponytail, so he pulled it out. And some major tugging. And pulling. And pain commenced.  I asked him, “Are you almost done?!?!?!?” To which he replied, “You’re just gonna have to be brave.” 

It was a fitting statement for the entire reason I set out to write a blog post tonight. I just got back from a great conference that I attend every year, American Christian Fiction Writers  Conference. It’s been a tough year for Christian fiction. If you read Christian Fiction, you might want to run over to your nearest bookstore or online reader and support your favorite authors, and find some new ones to love while you’re there. These gals and guys have had a hard year. There are numerous houses that have closed their doors to fiction in the Christian market. I just bought a turkey mug from Wal-Mart that has a big ‘ole turkey on the front that says “The struggle is real.” And at conference, the struggle for fiction writers was not only real, it was palpable.

But, in spite of the bad news, I felt there was an energy at this conference that hasn’t been there before. I’m not sure if it was just in my agent appointments or if other editors and agents felt it too. There were readers there, not just writers. They made themselves known. These same avid readers, many of them young people, were also there pitching some really genius ideas. And they were young. These were the “millennials” that the CBA has failed to capture and convert to CBA fiction buyers. But, they were there and it was exciting. Most of the ones I met were there to pitch Young Adult novels, which is extremely challenging to sell in the CBA. But, what struck me the most was the bravery of the people that pitched to me. Bravery to pitch their writing, to explain their complex plots, and tell me boldly why I should sign them. Their ideas were great, they were professional, and their courage was refreshing.

Bravery is contagious. And I hope it begins to catch on amongst Christian fiction writers over the next year. Publishing needs/wants go in cycles. Maybe CBA fiction is down right now, but I really believe there is a shift on the horizon. I see the struggle clearly, but I think we can figure this out. Will you do something for me? Will you stick with your fiction no matter what you see on the horizon? Will you trust God with the stories and characters that live in your head—that beg you to give them life on paper? And last, but not least, writers, will you be brave? Sometimes we must believe in what we cannot yet see. There may be a little tugging on the horizon, possibly even a little pain as we re-group as an industry, but I believe that the best is yet to come for writers of Christian fiction.


P.S. Please join me in October as I teach “31 Ways to Snag an Agent.” Please sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out on anything.



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