Agent Alex Glass works out of the Trident Literary Agency. He prefers to handle literary fiction of many types and narrative nonfiction. He had some great pointers for any author not only those writing for the literary market.
One of the first things he delineated for us was his definition of the differences between commercial and literary work. In his opinion the success and quality of a literary work in completely reliant on the quality of the writing. Commercial works are concept driven and more reliant on the plot and story lines.
He gave three pointers for reeling in an agent. Number one was the right a great query letter. Be concise and short and for literary work you needed include the plot. Explain where your book will fit on the store shelves. Compare your work to other authors but not to the greatest well known ones. Include any specific background you have if it relates to the work. Also mention any awards or recognition you’re received for previous work.
His second point was about building a platform. Alex recommended joining communities of writers and social groups. You should get your name out there with blogs, go to conferences to meat agents and editors, take classes where you’ll meet and learn from others in the business. Network, network.
The third point is one we all know but it never hurts to be reminded. Polish, polish and polish so your work is the best it can be when you send it out.
When it comes to non-fiction writing, Alex thinks those authors who are famous in their field before they become famous as writers are the most likely to be picked up by an agent. In the boiling cauldron of digital publishing, Alex thinks the sales of literary ebooks probably lags behind commercial fiction.
The title of Alex’s workshop was, ‘Tossing the Dice, Why Agents Gamble on New Writers.’ I’m not sure he gave us real insight into that but he was an interesting speaker. He did tell us he takes only e-queries and doesn’t even send a rejection note if he doesn’t want it. So if you’ve submitted to him and he hasn’t answered you should move on to your next choices. He stated numerous times that there were so many agents we shouldn’t wait around for one to get back to us or be too upset by a rejection.
How do you feel about an agent not responding to a query? Do you agree with Alex that the literary marking is lagging behind in jumping of the digital train?