May 30, 2010

WRITING ADVICE: NATHAN BRANSFORD 3 – The Search for Literary Agent

Nathan Bransford (NOT pictured left) is a West Coast agent with the New York literary agency, Curtis Brown, Ltd. For the past nine years, he has been writing a popular blog reflecting on and illuminating the publishing world. Humorous, serious and ultimately enlightening, I’ll be looking at how THE ESSENTIALS (PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU QUERY) have had an impact on my writing. I am using them with his permission and if you’d like to read his blog (which I highly recommend) go to

This is a tough one for me to comment on as I’ve been searching without success for a long time for an agent for several projects:

a) INVADER’S GUILT: Three Humans on the alien WheetAh’s homeworld are trapped and must escape before a rogue Human fleet invades, a powerful WheetAh attempts to overthrow his government and set himself up as dictator and a mysterious disease sweeps out of the mountains. Unknown to all of them, aliens powerful beyond imagining have their own plans to merge WheetAh and Humans into one gifted organism.

b) VICTORY OF FISTS: Langston Hughes Jones is an 18-year old, biracial high school senior just weeks away from graduating and taking one more step toward his goal of attending the University of Minnesota, Institute of Technology. But even though Langston is extremely intelligent and enjoys writing poetry, his propensity for fighting has his future of studying biomechanics (so that he can help ultimately save his ailing grandmother) in grave jeopardy. And with an arch-nemesis whose goal is to provoke Langston into fighting him so that he can’t graduate, Langston’s entire life balances on a razor’s edge.

c) DEEP BLUE DUNK: A championship middle school girls basketball team struggles with friendships, grades and a talented new girl from out of town as the regular coach gets ready to have a baby and turns the team over to her assistant coach – who has a “new” way to practice.

d) THE BIZARRO FAMILY PROJECT: Fourteen-year-old Serena Jones was taken in by Grandma Esther when her parents died. Grandma’s boyfriend, one of Serena’s cousins and a host of other guests at the Bed & Breakfast they run together make up her bizarro family. When Grandma Esther dies suddenly, Serena’s family is in jeopardy of shattering and she tries to save it – while keeping a record of what happened for a school social studies project.

e) FERRETS UNDERGROUND: Prairieheart and her brother ferret, Rockfoot help an entire prairie dog town escape humans bent on killing them all. Ursula K. LeGuin’s CATWINGS stories crossed with Lois Lowry’s NUMBER THE STARS.

f) HEIRS OF THE SHATTERED SPHERES – EMERALD OF EARTH: Emerald Marcillon’s parents are murdered while researching the Chicxulub Crater by a knife-footed robot that only Emerald sees. Newly orphaned, she is taken to the SOLAR EXPLORER, Humanity’s Last Greatest Adventure, where her great aunt is one of the vice-captains. Mysterious boxes are shipped up with her, too and the knife-footed robot shows up one night. Emerald and her unwilling new friends discover that the robot carries an intelligence that attacked the solar system sixty-five million years ago and that the robot is still programmed to destroy all of humanity.

I’ve entered contests (most recently the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award where I placed in the top 50); asked REAL writer friends about their agents (Bruce Bethke, David LaRochelle, Mary Casanova – to no avail); cold-queried agents (Nathan Bransford, Scott Treimel, Mark McVeigh, Susan Bent, etc); regularly read editor, author and agent blogs (Nathan Bransford, Chuck Sambuchino, Alan Rinzler, Rachelle Gardner, Janet Reid, Jennifer Jackson)…the only thing I haven’t done much of is accost agents at conferences. But that’s because I rarely go to conferences. Something about hordes of people drooling over agents and famous authors puts me off and makes me NOT want to be one of them. Because as “small” published as I am, I still have people assume I have an agent and then ask if I can recommend them. When I can’t, their interest in me VAPORIZES INSTANTANEOUSLY. *sigh*

At any rate, I am still looking for an agent. I know I’ll find one eventually. I update this entry when that happens. Until then, I continue to follow Nathan Bransford’s advice.

And so should you!


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