Agent Interview: Marietta Zacker

We’re excited to have gotten a chance to ask Marietta Zacker, a participating agent in this year’s #LatinxPitch, some questions regarding what she’s on the lookout for and what an agent typically needs to see in pitches to have them click that “like” button.

Thanks so much for your time Marietta!

Q: Tell us a little bit about what you’re looking for in your query inbox this year and how it might have changed from previous years.

A: I have a vision for an illustrator’s collective that highlights an array of untapped talent. I’ve always represented illustrators and author/illustrators, but the time feels right to find an expanded portfolio that truly shows a range of character work as wide and deep as the people represented in our world. I would love to work with an artist that is as dedicated as I am to showing our diverse world.

I will continue to look for stories and novels and images created for any age group (from the youngest reader to the young adult audience) that make me laugh, cry, or feel any sort of way, which, for me, typically means finding characters who stand out and are irreplaceable.

Q: What tips can you offer to writers or illustrators that might be planning to participate in the next #LatinxPitch event as they gear up for the event?

A: I would suggest that you not overthink it, and also, not rely solely on being ‘discovered’ in a pitch event. It’s a window that could certainly get blown open, but it’s not the only window or door in the house. And remember that, sometimes, the greatest of things happen when someone comes down the chimney, so stay awake if at all possible 😉

Q: What Tweets normally catch your attention during pitch events? What do you think makes a pitch stand out?

A: Much like the stories that attract my attention, I typically do a double-take on tweets that make me feel some kind of way. Tweets have, of course, limited space, but you can always ask writer friends, family members, or even the online community for feedback prior to the pitch event to see if you’re hitting a tone that matches your manuscript and that will make an agent feel!

Q: What’s something you’d like potential clients to know about your and/or your agency? 

A: I love our crew at GZLA. Everyone in our agency works collaboratively for the benefit of all of our clients. I believe in the power of storytelling, so I am hoping to add more clients who are willing to share stories that only they can tell.

Q: There are a lot of writers and illustrators, especially BIPOC writers and illustrators, who feel discouraged by querying right now . . . What advice do you have for staying positive?

A: I understand why people are discouraged – it’s all been harder. But the way I see it, the alternative – to stop our work and not give readers a way to escape or feel or expand their minds – is not an option. There are a number of publishing professionals who continue the work of those who came before us whose aim is to make the canon of children’s literature representative of our world in every way. We can only achieve that with creatives like you. We need your voice because readers need your voice. Don’t forget that!


About the Agent: Marietta Zacker has worked with books, authors and illustrators throughout her career – studying, creating, editing, marketing, teaching and selling. She supports independent bookselling, believes in libraries and takes pride in her work as a Latina in the world of publishing. She is always on the lookout for visual and narrative stories that reflect the world we live in, not the bubbles in which we put ourselves. She loves books that make readers feel and shies away from those that set out to teach the reader a lesson. Whether she is reading a young adult novel, a middle grade novel or a picture book, Marietta looks for a book in which young readers can identify with the actions and reactions of the characters, not the perspectives of the author or illustrator. Diversity in the story must be inherent and authentic, not trendy. She is thrilled to shine the spotlight on soulful, insightful, well-crafted, literary or commercial projects aimed at any age group from young adult to the youngest of readers.

She is currently open to queries.

You can find out more about Marietta on the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency website.

Success Story: Carolina J. Gómez


We’re excited to share Carolina J. Gómez’s #LatinxPitch success story! The middle grade and young adult author answered some of our most pressing questions about her experience with #LatinxPitch and her amazing work, with which Carolina signed with an agent shortly after the #LatinxPitch 2021 event. Congratulations, Carolina!

1. Tell us a little bit about your experience with #LatinxPitch – where did you hear about the pitch event from, how did you feel the day of the event in terms of expectations, and how did the event lead you to sign with your agent?

I’ll never forget how #LatinxPitch got me my first ever full manuscript request. Before then, I felt as if my voice was drowning in a sea full of so many creative books and wonderful pitches. But #LatinxPitch created this space only for us, for Latinos! And that was perfect for agents who love our stories and wish to raise our voices as they have never been before. I like to say that Tricia (my agent) found ME. She fell in love with Milo (my character) and his culture and background before I even hit that send button to the query. 

2. What was your recipe for the perfect pitch? 

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I LOVE WRITING PITCHES. (So, if you are a querying writer, feel free to hit me up! I always love to help other writers with their pitches/queries! @seriouslywrite on Twitter!)

It’s all about the ✨hook✨ For my math people out there, think of it this way: WHO + WHY + HOW. If you cover these questions, you’ve got yourself a good structure. Keep it simple and clear, gente. Also, use comps if you can! They are very eye-catching and give a sense of your story right away.

For reference, here’s my pitch:
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON x Avatar: LoA Finding missing pets is easy, right? 12yo Mexican Milo Martínez would say otherwise, especially when a girl from another world asks for help. An evil wizard is turning animals into monsters and only Milo can save them #LatinxPitch #MG #F #OWN

3. What would you say to Latinx writers who are querying?

Well, to start, please be my friend! I want to support your journey and lift your voices!

¡Amigxs! ¡Sigan luchando! The perfect agent for you is out there. It will take time, mental and emotional breakdowns, and a whole bunch of self-doubting, but it’s all going to be worth it when Latinx kiddos all around the world see your book at bookstores and find themselves represented on the pages. You WILL get there. Don’t be afraid to shelve a project, write the next thing, read more books. And reach out! You’ll find lots of help in the community! (Again, @seriouslywrite pa’ la banda.)

4. What does an event like this mean to you as a Latinx writer?

Is “everything” too obvious an answer? Because it honestly means that, everything! Whenever [I tell] someone I was born and raised in México and English is my second language, [it] puts me at a HUGE disadvantage with so many intelligent and eloquent writers out there. So, when I found out about #LatinxPitch I wanted to cry (of happiness). I felt like my voice might not be so small after all and that I am surrounded by an amazing Latino community. I am so thankful for this movement! And I can’t wait to share my stories with the world. 

5. Finally, tell us what you can about your manuscript and the stories that you write!

I mostly write picture books right now. I write either really funny and adventurous MG books or very dark and deep YA books. The book that I got my agent with is called MILO MARTÍNEZ AND THE MISSING PETS, and as you read on the pitch above, it’s about a Mexican boy who searches for missing pets and accidentally gets caught up in an evil wizard’s plans to turn animals into monsters. It’s very voice-y, funny, and whimsical. Right now I’m also working on a YA Horror based in México that’s very spooky. My saying is that I write serious books. Because I do. Or do I? 

Carolina J. Gómez is an author, Computer Science and Business student, and artist. She was born and raised in Monterrey, México but is currently lost in fictional worlds and novels, living vicariously through her characters and wondering the “What-if’s” of the real world.

When not writing, reading; and when reading, living.

Carolina J. Gómez is represented by Tricia Lawrence at EMLA

You can find Carolina on:

Twitter

Instagram

Success Story: Jackie Morera


We’re excited to share Jackie Morera’s #LatinxPitch success story! The PB author answered some of our most pressing questions about her experience with #LatinxPitch and her amazing picture books, with which Jackie signed with an agent shortly after the #LatinxPitch 2021 event. Congratulations, Jackie!

1. Tell us a little bit about your experience with #LatinxPitch – where did you hear about the pitch event from, how did you feel the day of the event in terms of expectations, and how did the event lead you to sign with your agent?

I follow many Latinx writers on Instagram and Twitter, so in the weeks leading up to the event, it felt like #LatinxPitch was everywhere! I believe the first I heard of it, though, was on the Las Musas Podcast (Ask A Musa, Ep. 10: LatinxPitch). I listened to the episode in the car and then immediately ran to my computer once I got home to research as much as I could about the event. I spent a lot of time on this very blog!

On the day of the event, I felt anxious! I was new to all things publishing, querying, and pitching and only recently rejoined Twitter about two months before. Thankfully, I had one round of Twitter pitch events under my belt (#PitMad) and had help from some friends in the writing community to refine my pitches by the time #LatinxPitch rolled around. I went into that day planning to make new connections with other writers, read great pitches, and have fun. I never expected the incredible response from agents, editors, and publishers alike! Tara Gonzalez liked the pitch for my picture book, THE MAGIC ISLAND, one of four projects I was pitching, and then later that day asked me to send her my other stories. I signed on with her in early December!

2. What was your recipe for the perfect pitch? 

There’s a lot of excellent advice out there about how to craft a strong pitch, and I tried to apply as many of those tips as I could, but what it came down to for me was asking myself two questions: 1. Is this clear? 2. Is this compelling? No small feat when you only have 280 characters, I know! But, what I found worked best, was to write multiple pitches for each of my projects, ask myself these questions, tweak them, and then ask someone else to read my pitches and answer these questions. I also played with formatting, white space, emojis, comps, and delivery, so I had a lot of variety in my pitches by the time the event rolled around.

The pitch that Tara liked was the least traditional of the group:

WHERE ARE YOU FROM x VIVO 🇨🇺
A magic island 🏝️An Abuela’s sacrifice ❤️An enchanted painting 🖼️
When Abuela’s grandchildren ask about THE MAGIC ISLAND, she must decide if she wants to share the whole story–the sol y sombras of her magic home.
#LatinxPitch #PB

3. What would you say to Latinx writers who are querying?

Well, to start, please be my friend! I want to support your journeys and lift your voices!

But the honest advice is not too far off: lean into the Latinx community! Find other Latinx writers, join groups like the Kidlit Latinx Facebook Group, listen to podcasts like Las Musas, attend events like Latinx Kidlit Book Festival, try to find CPs who also identify as Latinx, and then engage with the people you meet in a meaningful way. All of this will take your mind off the emotional roller coaster that is querying while also establishing the foundation for beautiful friendships! 

4. What does an event like this mean to you as a Latinx writer?

Is “everything” too obvious an answer? Because it honestly means that, everything! Whenever someone asks about what led me to finally pursue publication, I often tell people that I was content to write for “an audience of one” for the rest of my life. While true, there’s a deeper layer there that I only recently unveiled. And that’s: is there even an audience? If I put myself out there, and I tried, would people care to read about Cuba, or about an Abuelo who sells flowers on the side of the road, or about Latinx princesses in space? Is there too much Spanish in my books? Does that Vivaporu reference make sense? And on, and on! So when I eased my way into putting myself out there, I was pleasantly surprised to find a community ready to embrace me and even more relieved to learn about events like this one! There is hope yet for the bookshelves of the future. 

5. Finally, tell us what you can about your manuscript and the stories that you write!

I mostly write picture books right now, but I enjoy writing YA and some adult fiction. The pitch that connected me to Tara, THE MAGIC ISLAND, is for a picture book inspired by my experience as a girl listening to my grandparents talk about their lives in Cuba and describing this special, seemingly mythical place with a heavy sadness. It’s very near and dear to my heart, as one might imagine! 

The first story Tara and I are working on, ABUELO’S FLOWER CART, is a picture book that gently explores grief and death. It was also inspired by my time with Abuelo visiting his flower cart in Miami. His home, his flower cart, the colorful Miami street where he lived—they all felt like an extension of “the sad place,” a beautiful gated garden across the way. The story is about understanding that these places, where we go to remember and miss our loved ones, can be beautiful too. 

Jackie Morera is a second-generation Cuban-American writer who was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She lives with her husband, their son, and their two neurotic pups in Central Florida. Jackie writes picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. When she’s not writing or spending time with family, she works as a Career Advisor for an online Business Apprenticeship Bootcamp where she helps young people take their first steps in their career journey.

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Making the Most Out of the #LatinxPitch Experience

There’s a whole community behind the #LatinxPitch event and we want you to be a part of it!

One common question that new writers and illustrators, or even writers and illustrators who have been around on Twitter for a while, ask is how to make more connections and build a stronger presence within the publishing community.

A way to do this is by making the most out of Twitter pitch events like #LatinxPitch.

So how do you do that?

#LatinxPitch is a great way to find critique partners! You can search the day of and connect with others who write in your same genre and for the same age group. Simply comment on their tweets and mention that you want to connect. It’s normal to start by exchanging three chapters (or a PB book draft) of a work in progress with a potential/new critique partner to see if you both connect with one another’s work and critique style.

If you end up with minimal or no likes during the event you can still connect with agents or editors by searching for other projects/artwork they liked that are similar to yours. This is a great way to build a cold querying list. Even if you get likes from agents or editors this is still a way to supplement your list and cast a wider net when querying (and when you eventually go on submission to editors).

A third way to make the most out of the event is to connect with established writers and illustrators beforehand. Or even during the event when many writers and illustrators hop on to uplift and support those who are pitching.

Have a question? Use the hashtag #LatinxPitch or send a tweet to @LatinxPitch and we’ll help!

Beyond Twitter, we also have other online resources on our blog where you’ll find lots of useful information to help build your industry knowledge base. Some of our other blog posts include the agent call as well as how to put together a strong query letter.

We hope that #LatinxPitch is as social as it is helpful for Latinx writers and illustrators of all levels. Our aim is to not only make it easier for editors and agents to connect with Latinx writers and illustrators, but also to make it easier for the Latinx publishing community to find each other, unite, and move toward more kidlit books being published by Latinx writers and illustrators.

The Anatomy of a Query Letter

Updated August 17, 2022.

If you are pursuing traditional publishing, your road to signing with an agent will likely begin by writing a query letter. But what should you include in your query letter?

Read on for all kinds of query letter help!

PARTS OF A (TYPICAL) QUERY

Your first paragraph should include your character’s age if you are writing for kidlit, something about their personality, and what they want and are dealing with at the beginning of your story.

The body section of your query letter should include your inciting incident, turning points that progressively up the story’s stakes, and finally, what’s at stake if your character fails and what do they get if they succeed that ties back to growth from what they want from the first paragraph.

Your final paragraph(s) should include information about the manuscript, including your title, age group it’s written for, word count (rounded up or down to the nearest thousand), comp titles, and any other fact about it you would like to highlight. This includes if you want to highlight that you share a marginalization with your main character. You can also include a couple of sentences for your biography, though, your biography usually shouldn’t be longer than any of the body paragraphs. Finally, don’t forget to thank the agent for their time!

SAMPLE QUERY LETTER

13-year-old Gabe doesn’t care about being a brujo protege when he rather be reading and engaging with his followers on book TikTok. But when his mama becomes seriously ill from an ailment that seems to be coming from the commission dedicated to protecting brujx, he must shelve his TBR list and dust off his wand to save her.

With the help of his followers, he gets closer to a cure and the truth—the commission headmaster, Antonio de la Rivera, is seeking to be the only brujo left standing. Now he must band together and meet some of his long-time followers and friends in person to defeat the brujo. Including his TikTok crush, Ruby, who turns out to be a seasoned bruja.

Though success is easier said than won when they must fight off fantasmas, evade a nosey detective trying to show that brujx are real, and make sure Gabe’s little brother doesn’t fall under the curse as well. If Gabe doesn’t succeed, all of humankind might fall under the brujx spell, not just brujx. But if he can save the day, he might just realize his abilities aren’t the curse he’s always thought they were and finally find a home within the brujx community, offline.

BRUJO is a middle grade contemporary fantasy featuring a Mexican American main character. It is 45,000 words long and will appeal to fans of WITCHLINGS by Claribel A. Ortega and Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova.

Like Gabe, I am Mexican American. I live in California with my husband and newborn. Per your submission guidelines, please see the first ten pages of the manuscript below.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Sandra Proudman

(Contact info)

14 QUERY LETTER TIPS

1. ELIMINATE THE WHY?/HOW? Eliminate any chance for an agent to ask why a certain fact is how it is. Or why a certain character makes a certain choice. i.e. Luna is a vampire with a soul who goes on a secret mission. Well: Why is she going on a secret mission? And what is this secret mission? A better sentence would be: After vampire Luna loses her soul going after a human slayer who curses her, she ends up on a secret mission on behalf of the slayer who promises to give her back her soul in exchange for a leaf from the tree of life.

2. DON’T BE VAGUE: This one definitely lends itself to cracking Tip #1. There’s no reason to be vague in a query. Being mysterious isn’t really a good thing. It’s okay to reveal some juicy info that a reader won’t find out until the last chapter to an agent/editor you’re trying to hook. And you want to be as specific as you can so that your query makes sense.

3. IT’S OKAY NOT TO INCLUDE EVERY STANDARD PART OF A QUERY: Don’t stress out about a bio. It’s okay not to include one at all! Focus on telling an agent about your story. Especially if you’re submitting through Query Manager, there will likely be other other sections in your submission that you will be able to talk about yourself. You also don’t have to include a note on why you’re pitching said agent unless it’s on their submission guidelines. Always follow their guidelines!

4. ASK A FEW PEOPLE TO READ YOUR QUERY LETTER: Feedback can be vital to getting your query ready to send off. You may think you’ve written the perfect query and then someone will spot a mistyped word you’ll be shocked you missed!

5. FOCUS ON YOUR STORY: A query is a professional cover letter. Don’t make strange comments to the agent you’re querying. And don’t be rude or mean or demeaning to someone you’re asking to consider you for a business partner. Even if they pass.

6. COMP TITLES: Comp titles will not make or break your query! You do not have to include comp titles at all unless an agent has asked for them in their submission guidelines. If you do have to include them, or would like to, you’ll be surprised how comp titles start coming to you when you read and keep track of books within your genre. You can also compare your writing to that of another author. Even a feeling another book gave you, a movie, show, or even a song. It’s perfectly okay to say your MS is written in a similar voice as X, Y, and Z.

7. ONLY USE THE NAMES OF THREE CHARACTERS: Only using the names of three characters tops will help agents keep up with what your story is about more easily. These are usually your MC, your antagonist, and your romantic lead. This helps you figure out Tip #8!

8. CHOOSE ONE STORYLINE: How do you condense a novel that’s 35,000-120,000 words down to one page? UGH! So hard sometimes! The biggest thing is to focus on your turning points. Set the stage with your MC, who they are, and what they want. Then describe the turning point that sends your MC down their path and mission. And then describe the challenges your MC faces to get their mission done. And finally, describe the consequences your MC will face if they fail. And what they’ll get if they’re victorious.

9. IT’S OKAY TO DESCRIBE YOUR WORLD FIRST: A lot of people will tell you to start with your main character. But there are times when you NEED to describe your world first so that the rest of your query to make sense. That’s OKAY!

10. LOOK AT YOUR QUERY LAYOUT: It might not be something you’ve thought about before, but the readability of your query in terms of how daunting it looks can make a difference in the way it’s read! Try keeping each paragraph only a few sentences long, and breaking long paragraphs up, so that they’re easy to follow for agents who are very much overloaded.

11. FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES INCLUDING QUERY MANAGER SECTIONS: If you’re sending a query through Query Manager, you might notice that some agents also ask miscellaneous questions! Adding a couple of sentences into these sections (even if you are querying as an illustrator) might go a long way if an agent decides that they’re interested in learning more about you and your work. These are areas outside of your standard query that you can use to talk more about yourself and your work!

12. KEEP TRACK OF WHO YOU’VE QUERIED: In the age of Query Manager, if an agent is on the program, they can easily tell when someone has sent in the same submission already. Using a spreadsheet, folders, or even notes to keep track of what agents you query, what the status of each query is, and what agencies you’re querying at once, can help aviod any mishaps.

13. ILLUSTRATORS: If you’re querying a picture book, be sure to have your dummy for that project ready to go. In terms of your portfolio, don’t miss out on getting feedback from friends and other industry professionals before you query to make sure you’re putting your best work in your sample. And make sure that your sample shows inclusivity. For graphic novels, it’s always great to have a few spreads of sample work to show. And even though illustrators don’t have to do a general query as much, writing a paragraph or a few in your submission through email or Query Manager, will help agents get to know you.

14. USE YOUR QUERY TO REALIZE YOU MAY NOT BE READY TO QUERY: If you’re finding you can’t make your query concise enough any way you turn it, it’s time to relook at your manuscript. And it’s a good thing to do this before your start to query!

Querying can be one of the most challenging and stressful things for writers since it’s such an important factor to achieving representation from an agent. We hope that this blog post has given you the confidence to refine your query for #LatinxPitch and beyond!

Writing and Workshopping #LatinxPitch Tweets

Although workshopping your #LatinxPitch tweets doesn’t guarantee any likes from agents and editors, paying special attention and spending some time on including basic information about your manuscript in your tweets might help an agent or editor gather enough information to know whether or not they want to click the Like button.

Whether you end up with one like, thirty, or zero, all amounts are absolutely okay. The important thing is that you tried using this one avenue to get an agent or editor. There are dozens more available! Keep querying, keep pitching, keep your chin up.

But let’s face it. We put the event together because we want everyone to have the best odds possible. Thankfully, like writing a manuscript, creating a good Tweet is somewhat formulaic:

Character + Hook + Ultimate Stakes + Hashtags = Pitch Perfect Tweet

With any kidlit pitch, it’s always good to start with your character’s age, and then go into what makes your manuscript and your character’s voyage unique. In the case of #LatinxPitch, you might also include your marginalization if your main character shares it. And, if there is room in your pitch, you might add in comp titles at the end or beginning! Don’t forget to leave plenty of room for your hashtags, too!

Examples:

  • 17-yr-old Honduran Alma doesn’t take things sitting down. She tricks her divorced parents into a shared vacation of her dreams. And their nightmares. But when her parents start falling for other people on the trip she’ll have to go above and beyond to stop them. #LatinxPitch #YA
  • 13-yr-old Gabe is a brujo protege who doesn’t care about learning magia. But when his mama comes down with a strange ailment spread by the brujx commission that’s supposed to protect them all, he must bust out his wand before time runs out to save her. #LatinxPitch #MG #Fantasy
  • 5-yr-old princesa-de-la-casa Viviana thinks camping is totally gross. But when she’s forced to go on her first camping trip ever, she starts to learn that it’s only out in the wild you find osos y venado y cascadas de agua. #LatinxPitch #PB

Although there isn’t a one-fits all formula for success, we hope that if you’re stuck building your pitches for September 15th, this is a formula that will help you write tweets that include everything an agent or editor might be looking for in terms of story details.

Visit our event page to learn about common hashtags and all of the rules and regulations for #LatinxPitch.

Do you have your pitches ready to go and want some feedback on them? Join us for our pre pitch event on September 1st, when members of the #LatinxPitch team will be giving feedback on practice pitches!

The Agent Call & 10 Questions to Ask

Your querying journey will likely culminate in “The Call,” which is when an agent that you’ve sent your full manuscript to invites you to hop on a phone call or video chat with them, which most often leads to an offer of representation.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! It’s no small feat and should be celebrated to the fullest.

Although The Call can cause all kinds of jitters, it doesn’t have to be stressful. During The Call, you’ll likely hear the agent gush about your project, want to know more about what you’re working on next, and overall sell you on themselves and their agency.

It’s important to note that even if an agent invites you on a call and offers you representation, you do not have to accept it. Be ready to interview them as much as it might seem they’re interviewing you. Before the end of The Call, be sure to ask to be connected to two or three of their clients prior to making your decision to sign with them and their agency. It is also standard practice to ask for two weeks to consider their offer of representation (you can ask for more time as well, if necessary) during which you can reach out to other agents with your fulls, partials, or query and see if they’re interested in offering representation.   

A few ways you can prepare for The Call include knowing about the agent and agency in terms of who they represent that you’re familiar with and any recent deals they might have brokered, thinking about what future projects are on your queue you can chat about, and preparing questions.

Below are 10 questions to consider including in your list:

  1. Are you planning to represent just this project or my career? How do you typically develop a writer’s career? And are you willing to represent books I write for age groups and genres outside of your norm? Career building and planning is definitely something that your agent should have some idea on. A lot depends on what happens with project one, etc, but you can get an overall idea from them. These questions will give you an idea if the agent usually represents writers per project or for their career. If an agent will only represent you on a project-by-project basis, having a long-term idea of when you will need to possibly start looking for a new agent can save you lots of heartache in the future.
  2. Are you an editorial agent? Why or why not? Meaning, will they revise the manuscript with you beforehand or just do small edits and send it off to editors. Both have their pros and cons, and one might matter to you more.
  3. How many clients do you have and how do you juggle your workload with your clients? You can also ask: On average how long does it take to get a project on submission?
  4. What is your communication style? And how fast are you able to reply to client emails? If you’re someone who expects day-of answers on questions or issues that might arise, asking a potential agent how quickly they respond to requests from clients will give you an idea on whether their communication style matches your expectations.
  5. How does your agency support you? Feeling supported by your agency is just as important as feeling supported by your agent. Especially if the agent you’re speaking to is newer to the industry, knowing their support and mentorship system is important!
  6. What are some projects you’ve recently sold or signed? If you write sci-fi and all they’ve sold recently are contemporaries in a different age group that’s good to consider!
  7. What changes do you think my manuscript needs, if any? If there are things you are not willing to change that the agent mentions, better to have the conversation before. Many agents won’t tell you everything, so you can always mention some things you don’t want to change, too.
  8. Do your clients talk to one another? Does your agency do any type of conferences or events for writers within the agency to meet? Are you a social person? Networking within your agency can always be helpful.
  9. How does your agency handle foreign and television/movie rights? This is a business and knowing that a potential agency has access and experience with other avenues that can make you income is awesome!
  10. How does your agency support marginalized writers/writers of color? Knowing beforehand how your agency supports their Latinx clients, can help you feel more at home even if the agent you sign with isn’t Latinx.

There are many other questions you can ask based on what’s important to you as a writer. These can be regarding an agents list, editorial eye, or even contract questions.

Now that you’re more familiar with The Call, whether it ends in an offer of representation or not, we hope that you’re feeling better prepared to take a massive and important step toward reaching your traditional publishing goals.

Preparing #LatinxPitch Submission Materials

LatinxPitch Submission Materials - Twitter Literary Pitch Event

You’ve saved the day to your calendar, you’ve finished your manuscript(s), but what else should you have ready before participating in #LatinxPitch?

A QUERY LETTER AND A SYNOPSIS

Most of—if not all of—the time you’ll need to submit a query letter with your manuscript sample pages. We recommend having a few people read and offer feedback to help you with a final version.

Although less commonplace, some agents might also want a synopsis, or a short version of a story outline that shows your character’s complete arc. Having one already handy that has also been read by a few people is also a good idea!

A WAY TO KEEP YOUR QUERIES ORGANIZED

If you’re participating as a writer looking for an agent, whether you get one like from agents or thirty, one easy (and free) way to keep track of requesting agents is to organize a folder on your desktop for the event. Inside of it, you can add a folder with the names of each requesting agent and add in copies of the materials they’ve requested. This will help keep varying requests separate from one another and help you avoid sending the wrong files. Having this type of filing system also allows you to keep track of who you’ve queried by color tagging files and folders and it gives you room to move agent folders around as you hear back. Even if you’re participating as an unagented writer, it’s also good to have a file that includes the names of any editors that interact with your pitch for the future!

A FULL MANUSCRIPT AND A 50-PAGE PARTIAL

Having these two files prepared before participating in #LatinxPitch can save you time later on—a full manuscript and a 50-page partial (the most common partial). Spruce up your manuscript files up by adding in a placeholder page for your query letter addressed to each requesting agent at the beginning of your file, making sure your pages are numbered, and ensuring that your manuscript uses standard fonts and colors (you can never go wrong with Times New Roman).

PREPARING AND SCHEDULING YOUR TWEETS

You’re allowed to pitch each manuscript once in the morning and once in the evening during #LatinxPitch. Like your query and synopsis, be sure to try to get feedback on your Tweets before sending them out to get the most out of your experience. Once you’ve finalized the two (per project), you can always use a scheduling tool like TweetDeck to have them ready to go on September 15th if you won’t have time to send them out in real-time the day of.

Now that you have a good idea on what you might need after #LatinxPitch is over, make sure to join the community during our pitch practice day on Wednesday, September 1st. Members of #LatinxPitch and the writing community at large will be able to offer comments on your Tweets, so be sure to take advantage of any chance to get feedback!

How to Research Agents Prior to Querying

How To Research Agents Prior to Querying

One of the biggest steps a new writer will take on their path to publication is finding an agent to represent their manuscript and/or career. It’s exciting! But it can also be stressful to make such an important decision without a whole lot of information regarding agents available. And without having met someone who will become your business partner before, and sometimes even after, you sign with them.

How do you research agents prior to querying? Or after you’ve queried and have gotten a full request or offer of representation?

Here are five ways you can learn more about an agent before signing with them:

  1. Look at the agent’s track record

Some agents will have the books they’ve represented on their website or available elsewhere like on Publisher’s Marketplace (though PM is a paid option). If you’re looking for something unpaid, you can also do some research on an agent’s clients (if that list is available) and gather information on their client’s releases. This is a wonderful way to see if your project will fit with the projects they represent. Worth noting, however, that new agents might not necessarily have made a lot of deals. In this case, you can always take a look at the agent’s agency.

  1. The agent’s agency (especially if they are a new/newer agent, this can be super handy)

Signing with a new agent isn’t a bad thing. There have been many new agents that have excelled in their field in a matter of a couple of years and now have sizable lists and great track records. It might also mean that your project and career will have more attention from an agent that doesn’t have a wide list yet. What you might want to look at is whether or not a new agent who is interested in representing you has the resources, toolkit, and mentorship available to them at their agency. Are they being taught the trade by a senior agent that has experience in your age group and genres? Is the agency that they’re at legitimate, well-known, and without red flags?

  1. Reach out to current clients or to writer friends 

There has been some controversy the past year on whether or not querying writers should reach out to an agent’s clients outside of those an agent connects them with after The Call. Although it’s true that different writers will have different experiences with the same agent, therefore, a writer might critique an agent based on personal business preferences, it’s also important to be as comfortable querying an agent as possible. If this means talking to current clients (respectfully so) or seeing what information is out there about an agent, you are completely within your right to do so.

  1. Look at QueryTracker

QueryTracker is a paid yearly subscription database that allows you to keep track of the agents you’ve queried and your query status for each. Because it’s a shared database, it also gives you a timeline of responses per agent and lets other writers share their statuses and experiences with you. This is a great way to see how long an agent usually takes to respond, where you might be in their queue, and see if there are any negative notes from other querying writers left regarding the agent.

  1. Find interviews online

Some agents will participate in cons or panels that are later posted on YouTube or made available online. Seeing an agent and getting to know them on video is at least second best to getting to meet and pitch to them in person. You might also be able to find online interviews that don’t contain videos but will still allow you to learn more about an agent, their style, and what they’re looking for! 

It’s important to remember during any pitch event that you don’t have to send your query or manuscript to all the agents who request it. When it comes to choosing representation, remember to go with your gut and to do your due diligence. Only query the agents who you would be happy about getting an offer of representation from. And who you are sure are legitimately in the business. Knowing how to learn about agents prior to querying can help you narrow down your list and make signing with an agent so much less stressful!