This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Agent Search - It's All About Faith

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Creating the Proposal1. Write a general query letter that can be adapted as a cover letter. It should include the title of your manuscript, word count, and genre/sub-genre. Then you should include a brief description, follow-up with your credentials, and a closure statement offering to forward a proposal.

2. Write a 3-page synopsis. It should be in present tense and double-spaced. Only highlight the main plot points, and be sure to include how your story ends, even if there is a surprised mystery. The agent and editor will want to know.
3. Make sure the first three chapters are edited, polished, and the best you can make them.

4. Some agents will require further details in a proposal. Some may ask for a market analysis, a competitive comparison, and a sell-sheet. Be sure to include a one-page bio and a photo if possible.

5. For nonfiction a proposal should include your cover letter, chapter outline, TOC, one-page bio, three sample chapters, market analysis, competitive analysis, your credentials for authoring a book on your particular topic, and promotion plan.

Search Strategy
1. You can do an online agent search, but there are a lot of scams out there. You want to know that who you are targeting is a legitimate literary agent.

Resources I recommend is the most recent version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide by Sally E. Stuart and The Guide to Literary Agents by
Kathryn S. Brogan, Robert Lee Brewer, and Joanna Masterson.

Cross reference agents with the Preditors & Editors website at Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) at

Look at what each agency/agent offers and compare it to what you write. Highlight the ones that will be most applicable to you. Create an A list and B list. The A list includes the ones you feel confident about. Make sure you send those out first. The B list includes the maybes.

Tips in Finding a Good Agent
1. A legitimate agent will never charge you a reading fee or editing fees before they sell your book.

2. Most agents will offer you a written contract. Some agents will offer a verbal contract, but I have found the written contracts to be better.

3. A good agent will always answer your questions and will not make you feel like you’re bothering them if you do have a question. They encourage open dialogue and communication.

4. As long as you’re not harassing them every week, a good agent will not mind giving you a status update on your projects.

5. Agents should always forward a copy of an editor’s response whether it is a rejection, revision request, or an acceptance letter.

6. Agents should not mind giving you a list of their other client names.

7. Agents who belong to the AAR are usually legit.

8. Agents who have sales credits unless they are new.

9. Agents who attend writer’s conferences.

Tips of What to Avoid in an Agent1. Agents who charge reading fees.

2. Agents who have little to no enthusiasm for your work and always seem to have an excuse about how bad the market is or how little your subgenre is selling. Be observant. You’ll know if the market is bad. You’ll hear about it from other places besides your agent.

3. Your agent doesn’t want to share names of other clients they claim to have, or rejection letters from publishers.

4. If you get bad vibes every time you call or email your agent for a status update, especially if it’s been several months.

5. Your agent seems to go to all the other conferences that doesn’t specialize or concentrate on the subgenre you’re writing in.

6. Your agent seems to know less about the market, trends, and which editors to submit to than you do. There is nothing wrong with your agent asking your preference or telling you to keep them informed if you hear something, but not knowing anything is a huge concern.

7. If your agent seems to be avoiding you, giving you inconsistent information, completely ignores your opinions without justifiable reasons.

8. Your agent wants to rewrite everything you write. There is nothing wrong with suggested edits, but line editing everything to the point that your voice is altered or your theme or meaning changed, that is too much.

9. If your agent seems unprofessional in communication, or doesn’t respond to your emails or phone calls.

10. Tries to refer you to paid editorial services. Some agents receive kick back fees for every referral they make.

Rejection Letters
1. Form letter – This is basically a “Dear Author” letter that contains no personal feedback or indication that your submission was actually read.

2. Written note – This is usually a handwritten note on top of your manuscript or on a piece of stationary. It does indicate a little more effort that they’ve seen it.

3. Edit suggestions or revision request and offer to resubmit – This is usually a professional letter with specific feedback about your manuscript and is addressed to you.

Requests1. Proposal request – They will ask for a synopsis or the first three chapters.

2. Complete – They’d like to see the whole manuscript.

Contracts1. Verbal contract – An offer of representation over the phone. No written agreement exists between you.

2. Letter contract – A letter stating they will represent your work and the terms of service. Usually this is a broad outline and if they sell something you’ll receive a more formal contract.

3. Formal contract – This is an actual contract with clauses, specific to the service the agency will offer, and is very detailed. It requires a signature of agreement by both parties.

Agent/Author Relationship
1. Your agent works for you, not the other way around. You pay them a percentage fee of what they sell, not a penny before a sell. Your agent may give you edit suggestions, but most of the time they prefer you to do the writing and editing and let them do the selling. They will give you advice on which publishers and/or editors will be best to pursue for what you write. It’s a relationship that requires trust.

2. Agents do the contract negotiations for the author to keep the author out of it. That way the author can work with the editor on the content of the story, cover design, and marketing ideas, but the agent handles the business side of things. It keeps it clean for the author/editor relationship.

3. Agents know what clauses to avoid and demand in contract negotiations. The publishing industry is forever revolving. It’s too much for an author to keep up with. Having an agent that you can trust will relieve a lot of stress.An agent/author relationship builds trust, loyalty and requires faith. You will do a lot of praying. I’ve had three types of agents, secular, one who accepted both secular and Christian authors, and a Christian agent that only accepted Christian authors and provided a Christian contract. The Christian agent has been the best agent I’ve ever had. We pray together, uplift one another, and fellowship in our faith. We are friends and that makes the trust come easier.

Trust in God to lead on the right path.


I thank God that I read your blg because it is all about "Fauth" Pray for me!

Thank You again,
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