Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Literary Agent Blog Roundup

I have to hand it to my compatriots, this has been a really stellar week in the literary agent blogosphere. I was saving all sorts of posts for tomorrow's This Week in Publishing, but there are so many good agent blog posts this week I thought I'd do one roundup.

First up, there's a new agent in the blogosphere, so let's all give her a warm welcome and crash her Inbox with query letters!! (just kidding -- give her some time to catch her breath). Colleen Lindsay is a new agent with FinePrint, and she has a blog called The Swivet, which is rapidly becoming, nay, is already a must read.

Fellow rhetorical question warrior Jonathan Lyons has a list of his pet peeves, in which he joins the noble fight against queries beginning with rhetorical questions, and he also has a great post on the fact that vampires are not, in fact, dead, and what agents and editors usually mean by pleas of "no more vampires" is that they don't want unoriginal takes on the genre.

Over at BookEnds, they're well into their next first-100-words contest, and this one is erotica so... well, I know I'm blushing. They also have a post discussing the types of projects that would be appealing to a book packager, and whether you should first seek an agent.

Jenny Rappaport and I said hi this week, and also she has a post on current industry trends.

Following up on her post about how advances work, Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Literary Agency has still more great information on how royalties work. If you want a great nuts and bolts breakdown, check it out.

Janet Reid has a seriously awesome list of words that automatically raise the bar on whether an agent will request your work, as in, it had better be really incredibly good because we see these things so much.

I have to say, this is such a great time to be an aspiring author. Never before in the history of the written word has so much information about the publishing industry and agenting been so readily available to authors. Make sure you're absorbing the wealth of information that is now available, because with greater ease of access to information comes higher expectations that authors will take advantage of it.


sex scenes at starbucks said...

I love agent blogs, but yours is still my favorite. (And he already rejected me, so I'm not sucking up.)

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Thanks, Nathan. This gives me a couple more to add to my list, so I'm no longer at the magic number of 13 agent/editor blogs I read.

It also gives me a couple more ways to avoid work...

It's all a plot to keep us from writing.

So, yeah, thanks. Thanks a LOT. Geez.


Miffed said...

See all you lovely blogging US agents, you make it so much easier for us lunatics, I mean aspiring authors, to track you down. But UK agents seem much less keen on blogging – or is it that I haven’t managed to find the ones that do yet?

Adaora A. said...

It's true. The wealth of information available online is amazing. Aspiring writers can connect with agents to figure out the basics of what is required when submitting so you don't make a fool of yourself. I'm releaved it's not Leo Tolstoy or Charles Dickens (two of my favorites), era.

@sexscenes - This blog is definetly still king of them all.

Welcome to another 'agent who blogs.' It's time to add her to your blog roll ladies and gentleman!

Heidi the Hick said...

OOh I feel like I'm onto something- I already read 5 out of those 6 excellent blogs.

I agree that this is a great time for writers. My education doesn't reach much further than high school, so I feel pretty lucky to have Blogiversity! Thanks for putting everybody together.

Laurel Amberdine said...

It's a lot of fun to read agent blogs, and very inspiring. Real people out there! Who are interested in finding good writers!

Without Miss Snark, I would never have got the courage to query anyone at all.

Like ss@s, this is my favorite agent blog.

Mary said...

I love The Swivet. After discovering it a couple of weeks ago, it's now one of my favourite blogs!

Ryan Field said...

"I have to say, this is such a great time to be an aspiring author."

And this really is no understatement. Fifteen years ago when I was just out of college all you had were trade journals and contacts you met through work...if you were lucky enough to land a job with a any capacity...even magazines. And, you had to be in NY if your were serious. All info about lit agents were in books that weren't always very accurate. And, all queries were done through snail mail. The web really has opened up many opportunities for writers, editors and agents. I have an editor who works for a NY publisher, but now actually lives in Spain. That wouldn't have been possible without the Internet.

Furious D said...

My bookmark list is going to be huge after this.

Thanks for the links I have to check them out.

Josephine Damian said...

OMG! I've never heard of Colleen's blog until you mentioned it.

In addition to the stunning blog banner, she's a cat lover! And she supports lots of great causes, too.

She had me at "hello!" but I positively fell out of my chair when I saw she not only knows who I am :-O but did an enire linked post about my Donald Maass series!


But to hell with me. The cats are still my favorite. Between pictures of them, and the images of Agent Kristen's Chutney taking Manhattan (in a doggie hoodie no less), I'm convinced that you, Nathan, need to post your own pet pics.

Do you have a pet? If not, maybe it's time you got one. (Want one of mine? I have plenty to spare. Ten!).

Jenny said...


Seventeen years ago you could have signed up for Genie and Compuserve and chatted with bestselling authors, agents, and editors from major publishing houses in a way that is completely impossible now.

Back then everyone used their real name and treated the people they met online with complete respect.

There was no spam. Imagine that! No viruses. When you met someone online they assumed you were an educated intelligent person and were eager to connect with you, see what you were up to, and if there was something they could do to help you out, they'd do it.

I was a mom stuck at home in a small New England town with two toddlers living--hardly a publishing insider. Even so, I would message every day with authors who were on their way to becoming New York Times bestselling authors. Two of them gave me author referrals. Another successful author introduced me to his editor who bought a book from me.

Because people still read magazines and magazines still paid freelancers, I was able to earn a decent living writing magazine articles from home at $1 a word. I could get as much work as I could handle.

And of course, back then, people were buying books in numbers you don't see any more. There was no Google to answer every question, so when people wanted to learn something, they bought a book.

There were two or three times as many publishers competing in every genre as there are now. Most of them read over the transom submissions. Paper was much less expensive. Advances were the same as what they are now, but money was worth a lot more.

And back then, everyone was always telling us about the REAL golden age that had been twenty years before . . .

Anonymous said...

Nathan, with the current influx of agents embarking into the blog zone, I am curious as to what your motivations are? (I for one, am thrilled of course for any and all information related to the publishing industry). Sorry to turn the tables on you. Just curious!

Nathan Bransford said...


My motivations are twofold -- I really do want to help people navigate the publishing process as a way of giving back, and because it really isn't very fun rejecting 10,000 people a year. I try to give advice that people might find helpful because I just can't really help people out individually because I just don't have the time.

And also the blog affords me an opportunity to give prospective clients and people in the industry a sense of my personality and to see the way I work, in the hopes that I might be someone they would want to work with in the future. I've said previously that I want to be the first person that people think of when they query, and that's a big reason I blog.

benwah said...


You've acheived that goal, at least with me. You were the first agent I queried even though I suspect our interests don't entirely overlap. Thanks for today's links. I hadn't seen Janet Reid's blog yet.

Jessica said...

Same here. You were my first query!

Thanks for the links. With so many great blogs to add to my reading list, when will I find time for writing? :)

Chris Redding said...

Lots of info.
And yet you'll still get queries that start with a rhetorical question, and are for a 170,000 word fantasy romance memoir.

Tom Burchfield said...

"It's all a plot to keep us from writing." Scott

I think it was Flannery O'Connor who complained about Writers' Schools encouraging more writers than the world really needs. Could the surfeit of agent blogs be the answer to her prayers? Beware! (I have to admit, it's not working with me!)

Ryan Field said...

I'd like to add one more thing: The amazing, interesting people with whom I've connected as a result of personal writer blogs, and the web in general, in the past five or six years still astounds me. When one of our books comes out, we plug for each other as much as we can. When there's a personal crisis, we offer support. And the learning that goes on is better than any course I ever took in college.

Tiffany Kenzie said...


You have achieved that make me want to write something outside of romance and erotica--so I can query you :) You are a doll! And I'm addicted to your blog! You offer so much, in industry info and charming personality...

booklady said...

I loved the links and am about to check them all out, but I had to tell you that your last paragraph expresses exactly the same sentiments I have had lately. While some declare that publishing is doomed and new authors have no chance, I still feel lucky to be trying to break in at this time because there's so much out there if you're willing to do a little research. Agents, editors, and authors are available on an unprecedented level. It's amazing.

Filamena said...

So I guess the real question is, with a bloggosphere of a million and a half good agents, editors, and pro writers out there all offering their brilliant insight into the industry, who has time to write?

How do you divide your time up? How is a writer supposed to?

I'm not really complaining, I'm simply curious as to others opinions on the matter.

Jessica said...

Interesting question, filamena! I stay at home with two small children during the day and have a strict no-writing rule while the children are around, as I could easily get caught up in writing and not notice that they are halfway out the window! So during the day I do quick things like check the agent blogs and the websites like Absolute Write, and then I do all my writing at night, after the family is in bed.

mlh said...

It's a wealth of information at typing fingertips. Finally! Agents don't seem so unreachable or impersonal now, like robots hidden in editor's closets at conglomerate publishing houses.

I'm actually talking, or rather writing, to a live person!

Mary said...

I’m with Josephine on the pet thing!

Nathan, IMHO, your blog needs animal pictures. If you don’t have a pet, why not make one up? Even Miss Snark had her poodle! (But no way am I suggesting Killer Yap was/is not a real pet.) ;)

Shell said...

I found your blog through Agent Query and want to say how much I have enjoyed it. Thanks A LOT for this round up.

La Gringa said...

Hey, Nathan!

Thanks for the shout-out!



allrileyedup said...

I just came to your blog through Publisher's Marketplace. What a great round up of info. It is a nice time to be aspiring writer. Hope I figure out how to put all this info to good use.

holly said...

good advice, i love going on to agent blogs because every agent gives their own individual advice for every author. it helps for aspiring authors...

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