RWA Nationals – Agent/Editor Panel #2 – The Agent Cartel

7 Aug



Now, on to the show.


Kristen Nelson moderated a 2 workshop session of a group lovingly dubbed “The Agent Cartel.” These woman each came with a “Five Things” list. Below are their quick lists:


PAM AHERN – 5 Things you can do to help your agent help you

1.  Keep your expectations realistic for your level — Different houses do things differently. Also, don’t compare your paperback pub to a hard cover release. Someone who has 20 successful books is going to be handled differently than someone releasing her first hopeful.

2.  Keep your Agent informed with what goes on in your Writing Career

3.  Honest & Open communications – with needs/problems as well

4.  Read in your field – don’t expect your Agent to be your expert in everything. You should know what’s going on in your speciality

5.  Remember, your Agent is human too & show appreciation.


ROBERTA BROWN – 5 Things an unpublished author do in queries to get noticed

First she stressed showing yourself to be intelligent, professional, concise and intriguing.

1.  Know her name – and whether she’s a he or a she

2.  Hook or Tagline – 1 sentence/paragraph, title, wordcount, genre

3.  Summary – expand hook — Main characters/problems & conflicts/how adversity changes their lives

4.  Writer’s Bio – List any affiliations (RWA) it shows you’re serious/ DON’T apologize for being new

5.  Closing – Thank her for her time & make sure to mention the completed manuscript is available upon request


LUCIENNE DIVER – 5 Things that make you more attractive to agents

1.  Write a fantastic novel (If you didn’t get to Nationals – this seems to be the most repeated phrase. This or “Have you met Gwen?”) — Know you have quality and where the marketing possibilities are

2.  Work on your tagline – Have a juicy soundbite

3.  Platform – Do you have a way to show and convince her where it will standout in the marketplace

4.  Contest wins – get your foot in the door

5.  Personality


ELAINE ENGLISH – 5 Things you need to know to write for two separate houses

1.  Clear picture – why are you doing it – what do you want to accomplish at each house?

2.  Be realistic – about your ability and commitments

3.  Coordinate your delivery and publication dates

4. Cross-promote when you can

5.  Talk about all of this with your agent — if for some reason your agent isn’t involved in one of the deals, she should still know the details


MICHELLE GRAJKOWSKI – 5 Ways to nail that personal pitch

Michelle openly admitted to cheating on the numbering 🙂

1.  Short/concise/attention grabbing

2.  Genre

3.  Wordcount

4.  Is it complete?

5. Target house

6.  Hook/Blurb – what’s the hero & heroine’s conflicts

7.  Let them ask questions

8.  What are you’re career goals?

9.  Writing qualifications


CAROLYN GRAYSON – 5 Ways to manage the business of being an author

1.  Author creates new assets – if you aren’t writing, what are your assets?

2.  Have a business plan — Write books that are the best investment of our time. Don’t plagiarize someone else’s business plan, what works for her may not work for you

3.  The book is not the sale – the contract isn’t either.  Those are the end of the beginning

4.  Treat your earnings appropriately – Brand seriously, use your book money to up your ROI (return on investment)

 5.  Be aware of changes in the business environment / publishing


PAM HOPKINS – 5 Things unpubs do that inhibits getting published

1.  Revise and rewrite forever

2.  Stop writing while waiting “to hear”

3.  Make entering contests a career

4.  Let critique groups stifle your voice

5.  Ignore agents advice


JENNIFER JACKSON – 5 Things you should know about an agent before you sign

What’s her super POWER?

P – Passion — how enthusiastic about you and your book is she?

O – Open minded — is she in it for the long haul, open to new or multi-genre, changing houses?

W – Writing editorial feedback — how involved is she- what do you want from her and will she provide it?

E – Expectations of agent — What do they expect productivity wise?

R – Responsiveness – How often and how will you both communicate?


NATASHA KERN – 5 Things agents do beyond getting the deal

1.  Develop and maintain a good team

2.  Marketing and PR plans

3.  Book related materials

4.  Long-term planning

5.  These were all so tied together, that one is 2 🙂


PATTI STEELE-PERKINS – 5 Ways to do things to the detriment of your career

1.  Rant and Rave online – The Internet is forever

2.  Consistently failing to deliver on time

3.  Getting drunk at RWA and announcing your deal points — deal points are right up there with your SSN, no one’s business but yours

4.  Using “FU” instead of “stet” in your answer to edits – always remain professional

5.  Burning bridges – We’ve all seen it done in lots of places in our lives. If there’s one thing that became obvious at this conference it is that agents, editors and writers are NOT insular. They talk.


So, there you have it, straight from their mouths to my notebook to my blog – but still, fairly direct, right? 



8 Responses to “RWA Nationals – Agent/Editor Panel #2 – The Agent Cartel”

  1. Randy Nichols August 7, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    Where did you get your blog layout from? I’d like to get one like it for my blog.

  2. December (funkybunny) August 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm #

    These are FANTASTIC – thank you so much for taking notes and sharing!

  3. briaq August 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    Hey December – Glad you like it. They were amazingly precise in their opinions!

    Randy – It’s a standard wordpress theme – Very easy. I just added the widgets I wanted. Check out the front page.

  4. Kaige August 7, 2008 at 4:29 pm #

    Awesome set of pointers! Thanks for taking notes for the rest of us.

  5. briaq August 7, 2008 at 5:57 pm #

    Thanks Kaige – you get next year!

  6. Unhinged (Andi) August 7, 2008 at 8:08 pm #

    Heh, heh! I’m already laying the (hopeful) groundwork for Kaige’s attendance next year…

    I just got home from work and am skimming the ‘Net, but I will be back to pour over your entries in depth. And to leave comments, because that’s usually what I do.

    Back soon!

  7. briaq August 7, 2008 at 9:16 pm #

    Thanks Andi –

    They gave us a lot of great info. I was surprised how much the agreed on – and just as surprised at WHAT they disagreed on 🙂


  1. Oi, My eyes are killin’ ME! « A Point in our Journey - January 25, 2009

    […] much information. I read all of her past posts on the Publishing Round up and notes taken from her Summer 2008 attendance to the RWA nationals- (I’m not a romance writer, but pitching is pitching and learning is […]

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