Over the weekend, I attended the Storymakers Conference in Provo, Utah, with my fellow editors and 450 other writers.
I was lucky to host Laura Rennert, a talented agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She had great advice, along with agent, Nephele Tempest, of The Knight Agency (it was fun learning to pronounce Nephele's name and we all agreed she should be an actress with such a fine stage name--Neh feh lee). Both agents were friendly and outgoing women who were simply a delight to hang around with.
I think the most interesting thing about listening to an agent speak is learning what their preferences are. Most of their advice is the same across the board. Bottom line, they are looking for good writers with compelling stories.
Nephele Tempest told us to not be afraid when pitching to agents--they are just people who love books and are fortunate to work in an industry they love.
I liked that. I love books and therefore, it already gives us writers a lot in common with agents.
Laura Rennert made a point of saying that publishing contracts vary by quite a large degree. But she told us not to get caught up in the number or the size of the publishing house. She said that the books she represents will find the right home for that particular book. She also talked about fine-tuning your craft in her workshop. Out of the criteria that she considers when reading a submission, she said that voice is the hardest thing to edit. And her advice on finding the right voice for your work? Write. A Lot.