What Literary Agents Are Looking For

I found the article I mentioned in the Query Letter – email or letter post and thought it worthy of another thread.


Here Stephen Barbara of the Donald Maass Agency discusses the growing trend of writers who spend more time worrying about how their query letter reads than they do working on improving their manuscript.

So I raise the supposition again in defense of self-publishing – if an average agent receives 50 queries a day (this might be conservative see – Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency admits her agency has a dedicated query-reader to keep up with 150+ letters each day) and the majority are well-crafted wouldn’t an agent rather see a writer’s work that has proven herself in the marketplace even if with limited sales and reviews?


2 thoughts on “What Literary Agents Are Looking For

  1. Jeffrey, I agree with the premise that indie authors are testing the marketplace in ways that traditional publishing cannot embrace. Relatively small sales over an extended period of time can be financially rewarding to an individual if not a corporation. It’s a wonderful time to be a writer since we now have the tools to be effective entrepreneurs.

    • Thanks Jan – do you know about Litopia () There’s a lively discussion there about this. Mostly seems to be a bunch of stuffy Brits defending traditional publishing. Though one wonders what is going to left of traditional publishing after the U.S. Department of Justice charged major publishers with collusion and price fixing with Apple.

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