Thursday, May 30, 2013

OWFI's Agent Panel's Quotable Quotes

The first weekend of May is the annual writers' reunion/conference for Oklahoma Writers Federation.
My writing group's party room. Yes, we have wine with our name on it.

Here are a few helpful quotes from the agent panel:

On Query letters

"Be short, sweet, professional." --Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management

"Please include a phone number." --Paul S. Levine  of Paul S. Levine Literary Agency

"A 2000 word query letter is not going to excite anyone."--Paul Lucas of Janklowa & Nesbit

On Pitches

"The best pitch is the one that makes you want to read more of the book.  The worst one is the one that makes you wonder why they're writing a book." --Jim McCarthy

"Best pitches are the ones that make me want to sign that person.  The worst are when I think I can't wait to talk about this at work on Monday."--Jim McCarthy

On Self Publishing

"I'm very open to self-published authors.  I'm more enticed if you've sold a butt load of copies."--Jim McCarthy

On Social Media

"Own it if you're going to do it.  Delete it if you're not." --Paul Lucas

Other tidbits

"Looking for projects I think are fun."--Paul Lucas

"New Adult is very happening." --Sara D'Emic of Talcott Notch Literary Services

"Don't be an asshole.  It's not worth it." --Jim McCarthy

Happy writing, ya'll!

Does anyone else have a quotable quote from a writing conference? Please post in the comments.


  1. I think that I have one that agents should not say. Here it is..."Do you have a rich uncle?". (insert chuckle here) Sometimes, you just have to take advice for what it is worth. ((Hugs)) Brandy Walker

  2. Didn't have to check my notes for this one because now I think of it every time I send out a query letter. Paul S. Levine: The typical agent at the Big Six is 23 years old, lives in a tiny New York City apartment with about three other girls, and thinks nothing significant happens west of the Hudson River or east of the East River. He said he was joking, but only partly. I'm beginning to believe him.

    1. I think he was righter than he wanted to admit. Also, about editors. I think that's why the heartland should embrace self-published books more - then people could hear our unfiltered voices.

    2. That's an interesting point, Christine, and one I've heard several agent and editors mention recently. At SCBWI several editors said that traditional routes aren't for everyone. It's important to analyze one's work realistically.

    3. Dee Dee, I didn't write down something else Levine said, but I remember the gist: He said he doesn't have to fall in love with a project to work on it. He just has to think it will sell. Ha!

  3. The guy that said "Do you have a rich uncle" was a publicist not an agent. Agents should never ask you to pay upfront, that's a red flag warning. Of course, a publicist asking if you have a rich uncle is also a pretty big red flag. ;o)

  4. Brandy and Jennifer...oh my! I've heard a few rumors about that "publicist." If an agent said that to me I'd suspect he or she was suggesting "a rich uncle" self-publishing me was the only way my book would see the light of day. Boo!