Monday, June 14, 2010

What Can You Learn from Agent/Editor Panels

Every writers’ conference has a few panels designed to answer general questions on their area of expertise. Pennwriters featured two panels, one with agents and one with editors. I had to miss most of the editor panel to attend my pitch session(still clinging to hope on the requested submission), but I did scribble a few notes.

The editors attending were Leis Pederson, an associate editor at Berkley Publishing, Barbara Lalicki from HarperCollins Children and David Pomerico, an assistant editor at Del Ray Spectra.

Leis Pederson specializes in genre fiction including, romance, erotic romance, urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mysteries, thrillers and general fiction. Her biggest pet peeve with authors is the missing of deadlines.

Barbara Lalicki focuses on tween fiction which is books for 8 to 10 year old or 10-14 year old child. Barbara claims no particular pet peeve only a regret. She wishes she could spend more time wither her authors and have a more personal relationship with them.

David Pomerico wants to see traditional fantasy, dark fantasy, urban and contemporary fantasy. He also likes dystopian literature, near-future thrillers and quirky literary fiction as well as some nonfiction such as humor and sports.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the editor’s presentation after these few enlightening remarks. It is a given at writers’ conference that you can’t listen to every presentation.

The agent panel had some good tidbits for query letters. Alex Glass of Trident, Jenny Bent, Janet Reid and Emmanuelle Alspaugh sat at the head table and took questions. All four agents prefer e-queries and offered some input as to how it should be done. Each of these agents graciously gave other presentations throughout the conference and you can read about them in previous posts.

The three women chastised Alex Glass in front of the audience because he admitted he didn’t respond to queries if he wasn’t interested. He gave into their majority and said he would in the future but I wouldn’t count on it if you’re submitting something to him. Jenny Bent said her best quality for helping you succeed was her push personality. It sounds like a good thing for an agent to have.

Emmanuelle impressed the other agents and the audience by saying she would respond to a full within four weeks. Janet Reid advised you to be careful in you cut and paste on your query email. This can mess with the formatting especially is you use Gmail. Put space between your paragraphs.

Don’t include an address heading like you would on a regular letter and it is fine to use the agent’s first name. Janet gave the example of someone pasting a query to her and it had someone else’s name in the heading.

Make sure the agent you contact actually represents what you’re written and follow the submission guidelines found on their websites exactly.

Most of what was shared was common sense but reminders don’t hurt. Have you queried agents or editors who have never responded? What is the shortest time and longest time you’ve waited for a response?


  1. I love recaps like this! I can only afford the time/money to attend one or two conferences a year, so it helps to see what you've picked up from the ones you've attended. Ozark Writer's League has one coming up in August and I have the first 12 pages of my WIP in for a critique. It'd be nice to see what someone in the business thinks...I think. (WIP's were allowed, btw, so I didn't break any rules;)

  2. Thanks for the info! It's awesome to hear their tips. Common sense is always helpful :)

    If an agent's website says they only respond if they're interested and they give a timeline (eg - if you don't hear from us in 2 weeks, assume it's a no) it wouldn't bother me much to not hear from them.

  3. I'll be watching your blog, Madison, to hear about your writing conference.
    I agree with you, Jemi, about the agent's giving a timeline on their submission guidelines. If they don't and I never get a response, I can only guess how long before I write them off.

  4. It's always a good idea to hear what agents and editors say. Even if you've heard it before, a reminder is nice. Thanks.

  5. Thank you for sharing this information with us.

    Best wishes,


  6. I know what you mean, Helen. I need those reminders now and then.

  7. It's always nice to hear insiders' thoughts on the business, thanks for sharing this. I clicked over from Helen's, enjoyed browsing here. And best wishes on your requested submission!

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  9. Thank you, Joanne, for stopping by. I always enjoy being able to put faces to those names I wish would pick up my books. It also makes it so obvious that your book being selected by agents and editors can be as much their personal preferences and quirks as anything.

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