Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Get a Literary Agent

Hello, friends.

You've written a manuscript and now you want to sell it. You don't want to self-publish, as that requires too much money up front and an intensely difficult marketing campaign afterward. Publishing through the conventional avenues means getting a literary agent, as no major publishing house these days will accept unsolicited manuscripts.

You've labored tirelessly over writing the perfect query, did your research online and through various Writer's Market volumes, and sent out your query to dozens, and for some, hundreds of agents. Most responses come back as a rejection form letter. The rest don't bother to respond at all.

Why? Don't they want fresh new talent? Other people get agents, so you ask yourself, "What am I doing wrong?" The answer: Nothing. The problem: Agents receive hundreds of queries every day, and unless yours is so out-of-this-world fantastic in the very first line, they will likely throw it in the discard basket and tell their intern to send you a form rejection. Some do take the time to read the whole query, but again, if it's not stellar, in the basket it goes. If you are exceptionally lucky, the agent will write you a short personalized note letting you know why your manuscript was rejected. That's a good thing, because then you can revisit the manuscript and make improvements.

The bottom line, however, is you've been rejected. What do you do?

You get out from behind your desk and go meet the agent face to face. That does NOT mean you drive to the agent's office and walk in with your manuscript, plop it on her desk and ask her to take a look. (If anyone has ever read John Irving's The World According to Garp, that's what Garp's mother did with much success. Remember, that was fiction. This is reality.)

The best way for you to meet an agent is to check around your area for writers' conferences. Many areas hold writers' conferences that are within a reasonable driving distance from where you live. See if those conferences offer a "meet-and-greet" segment with a literary agent. Some conferences charge a little more to take part in that. But some don't. If there is a conference that does offer such a segment that doesn't charge extra, sign up, follow the rules, and go. If there are only conferences that offer such a segment at an additional charge, I still recommend you go, but those have pros and cons. The pros are you will get honest, priceless, professional feedback that will only improve your manuscript, and you may actually get interest from an agent. The cons are, some of these agents may not be as interested in picking up new talent as they are in getting paid to do the conference.

Either way, the advantages are numerous.

1.) You are showing the agent you are active in the literary community by actually going out and attending conferences in order to improve your craft and advance your writing career.

2.) You are attending workshops that will actually help you grow as a writer. You will not only get creative writing tips, but tips on how to publish and promote your book.

3.) You will make a more lasting impression on the agent by meeting them in person and talking with them. That is something that isn't possible by simply sending out a query letter.

4.) You are getting critical advice on how to improve the manuscript. They know the market. They know what works and what doesn't. They read hundreds upon hundreds of manuscripts. They are not just giving you an opinion. They are telling you exactly what you need to do to get published. It may sound like a rejection, but it's not. It's a postponement. Once they tell you what needs to be done, do it! Which leads me to the next benefit.

5.) Once you make the suggested improvements, these agents are more likely to revisit the revised manuscript. That is not something an agent who rejected you letter query will likely do.

6.) If the agent rejects your revised manuscript, she will more often than not give you further advice on how to improve it, and she may keep the door open for you to resubmit.

At the end of the experience, the agent may sign you on, she may not. If she doesn't find, out why. She would have invested enough time with you at that point to be honest. The reason may simply be she thought she had a place for it but discovered she didn't. That will allow you to market it to another agent with more confidence.

It may sound daunting, but this method does work more effectively than sending out letter or email queries. And a wonderful benefit is, you have improved your manuscript in a way you never would have been able to otherwise. So, if you do decide to go the self-publishing route, you will have a much better product.

I hope this helps you. The best advice I can give you is don't get discouraged, keep writing, keep revising, take the advice of these professionals gracefully, and never, ever give up. It takes time. But it's time worth taking.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spreading the Word

Hello writers and readers!

I would first like to give you an update on The Box Under the Bed, my new collection of haunting short stories and dark poetry. It is available on and now also available on For a sneak peak, go to To view my cool new video, just click the button below!

Secondly, this weekend, I had a wonderful opportunity to share some of the poems from this collection with my fellow poets, Mary Elizabeth Lang and Suzanne Niedzielska. We were at a charming Tea House in Bristol, CT called The Artist Tree. The walls were covered with paintings from local artists, and the tea was delicious.

Sharing this news with you brings me to an important point. Reading at local venues is a valuable way to get the word out about your work. It gives you opportunities to advertise not only the event itself, but to advertise the work from which you will be reading. Facebook and Twitter are great social sites to spread the word. Reading at local venues also brings in a new audience. People who frequent the Artist Tree Tea House were not my social connections, but now they are!

If you have print books, always choose selections from those so you are holding the book in your hand for the audience to see. If you have only an eBook, create a business card, as I show above. Hand that card out to everyone in the audience and let them know they can get a sneak peak of your book on,, or any other place where they can access it. That brings them to the site and one step closer to purchasing your book.

Lastly, if you want me to discuss certain aspects of writing or reading on this blog, drop me a note. I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day and keep embracing the written word in whatever fashion you choose!
Eileen :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Box Under the Bed

Hello everyone! It's been a while since I've posted anything, and it's high time I started again. My book, Without Mercy, formerly known as The Rope the Tire and the Tree, is now in its editing stages. I am working with an agent, and we are cleaning up some trouble spots. This needs to be done before she can attempt to sell it. That's a good thing, and hopefully it won't take too long.

In the meantime, I have a new book of short stories and dark poetry, which is available on and It's called The Box Under the Bed and it's filled with haunting tales and tidbits pulled from under the bed that are sure to steal your breath and chill your blood right before you sleep. These compelling little poems and stories explore the dark side of the human psyche and the ghostly side of death.

This is an eBook, and you can download it to your Kindle or Nook device.

The Box Under the Bed on

The Box Under the Bed on

If you do not have a Kindle device, you can download a FREE app to be used on your computer, tablet, or phone. Here's the link:

Download Your Free Kindle app

Check out a FREE preview of the book on (Barnes and Noble offers a free preview as well, but the Amazon preview is more extensive.) If you like what you read, the book is only $3.99! I would also love it if you would write a brief review of the book, whether it be on or on, as reviews help give the book greater search presence. A five-star review is a wonderful way to promote a book on these sites, and as an author, promotion of a book is exceptionally cumbersome, so every little bit helps!

Thank you for following me through my various projects. Please leave a comment, and if you have a book, I encourage you to promote it here!