Saturday, April 5, 2008

Judging Writers and the Agent's tough job

I've just finished judging entries for a local contest. I've learned an amazing amount. Much of it encouraging to all us creative folks who struggle with rejection.

First, the work matters. It's easy to spot a beginning writer. It's easy to spot a writer who's worked on the craft and written some. It's easy to spot a writer who's written a great deal and who has learned many lessons from writing all those words. (Talent doesn't seem to enter into it--but that's for another post.)

Second, I've gained an understanding of not only what agents go through, but that the agents tell the truth when they say "Sorry--just not my type of thing." The best entry I judged was excellent, compelling and professionally written at a high, high level. But if I had been an agent, I would not have taken this writer as a client. Why? Not my type of thing. And as an agent, it needs to be "my type of thing" for me to know who, how and where to sell the manuscript.

And a final note, somewhat related: I've had a manuscript out, making the rounds. In my research of agents, I've come across some great agent blogs: Nathan Bransford, Lyons Literary LLC and Bookends, LLC to name a few. These blogs give great information and advice on finding an agent and the publishing world.


Kathy McIntosh said...

Good post, oh so true. And thanks for the links to agent sites.

Swubird said...


Great little article on "...not my type of thing." I'll definitely check out those agent blogs and learn a thing or two. When you get a rejection slip it sure seems cold, and you feel like your material isn't worthy. So it's good to hear that the reason may be as simple as your material is good but it just doesn't fit with what one agent was looking for.

Have a very nice day.

The Muse said...

That sounds interesting. Contests are always fun. Of course it's a lot of work for you.

I hope your manuscript gets picked up quickly.

I'll have to check out those links. Not because I'm there, I'm nowhere near there, but because I'm curious.

Have a good one!

Dave King said...

A really interesting post. Good to have what we've been told before or have suspected (or maybe doubted) confirmed by someone with no distracting agenda.

Helen Ginger said...

I think you're right about the way an agent has to look at a manuscript. A rejection is not always an agent rejecting the writing and judging it's "goodness." Sometimes it's an agent deciding that it's not what they have the contacts to sell or it's not the kind of book they love and in order to sell and push for that book, they need to love it.

Conda Douglas said...

Glad you appreciate the links, Kathy--there are a lot of agent blogs out there and I think these are some of the best.

And Swu--yeah, I have trouble remembering what I just blogged about when I get a rejection!

And Muse, you'll get there...

Thanks Dave, it really was a great learning experience, judging. I also caught a lot of the mistakes that I do in my writing in the entries.

Conda Douglas said...

Welcome, Helen, and thank you for the great comments. And yes, I've heard agents at conferences say exactly what you said: "They have to love it." Doesn't mean anything about the quality of the manuscript.

I've visited your blog--what an excellent amount of great info you have--I'm visiting again. Often.