Agent/author Regina Brooks gives advice for authors

“As founder and president of Serendipity, a boutique literary agency, Regina Brooks dedicates her skills and years of experience to helping a diverse client base get their work published. Founded in 2000, her agency has represented numerous authors in children’s fiction, young adult, and adult nonfiction and fiction…

Here, she shares her insight both as an agent and a writer.

Effective queries

Just like ironing your slacks for that job interview, a good query is really about etiquette, about demonstrating you know the rules of the game and are excited to play. It should go without saying that excessive grammar and spelling mistakes spell doom. A winning query is concise, engaging, and easy to follow. Too often I have to pass on a project because after reading the query several times I’m still unsure of what it’s about. Particularly with fiction, many writers try so hard to ‘not spoil’ their stories that they wind up saying nothing of substance about the book.

Nonfiction that stands out

One of the most important considerations for nonfiction is platform, even if the book is a memoir. It doesn’t mean the author has to be famous, necessarily, but they should be consistently putting themselves out there. Too often writers are hesitant to pitch short pieces while they’re working on the Big Book, and this is a shame. If I were to do an online audit of the author’s credentials, I should find awards they’ve won, articles they’ve published, talks they’ve given, surefire evidence that they are the ideal writer for the given topic. It needs to be recent, too.”

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