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agent, rapidly
the second annual literary agent blog roundup
by jael mchenry (@JaelMcHenry)

You know, last year at this time I was surprised to find out that agents blog. This year, I'm surprised there aren't more of them doing it.

The agent-author relationship is still, as it ever was, fraught with carefully imposed distance, misdirected resentment, and a whole boatload of uncertainty. Blogs don't change that. But they do help both the agents and the authors for several reasons: everyone gets to express how they feel, and everyone gets to read the other side of the story.

Everyone's a little bit completely insane, also, but that's the interweb for you.

In the year since I initially took stock of the situation, there's been some rising and falling. There are more agent blogs -- there are more blogs of all kinds, I'm sure -- and some of my favorites have ceased. A moment of silence, please, for the dearly departed Miss Snark; and a moment of silence-tinged-with-slim-hope that Lit Agent X decides to pick things up again, after several months of hiatus.

Okay, moments over. Without further ado, here are the five agent blogs I'm reading now (and you should too):

1. Nathan Bransford, Curtis Brown Ltd. Nathan wins the internet for finding the perfect balance between personal ("The Hills") and professional (This Week In Publishing), not to mention occasionally running really useful contests with artfully hyperbolic titles like The Largely Indispensible First Paragraph Challenge. You don't have to win to win -- I wasn't among the finalists for the First Line challenge, but the experience made me reconsider how my latest book opens, and now that book has a MUCH better first line. That's the thing about the best agent blogs -- they don't just teach you about what that agent likes. They help you think better.

2. Pub Rants (Kristin Nelson), Nelson Literary Agency. Much like Nathan, she's out to educate the blog-reading agent-hungry public. In-depth query letter critiques, near-daily updates, and insight into other parts of the book business from covers to contracts -- what's not to love? She's awesome. And a great example of an agent who doesn't have to a) be mean or b) live in New York to make great things happen for her clients, who include New York Times-bestselling YA author Ally Carter.

3. Janet Reid, FinePrint Literary Agency. I just started reading Janet, but so far, I like what I see. A relentless booster for her writers, and a snarky tone (so much so that at least one reader has hypothesized she might be the infamous Miss Snark herself) that simply puts her point of view out there, whether you like it or not. If Kristin's tone is too sweet for you, try Janet; if you find Janet too cutting, give Kristin a try. Janet goes beyond the business to alert you to readings, happenings, contests, all that, so she's definitely worth checking in with for that reason, especially if you're a New Yorker. A search on the tag query pitfalls will probably terrify you, but trust me, you're better off for it.

4. Bookends, LLC. I'm not always keen on agency blogs that rotate their writing duties, but this is an exception. Plus, at least for the past month or so, most of the posts seem to come from Jessica, so the voice is consistent. And that voice is a great voice. One of the most interactive bloggers, Jessica takes questions frequently, and like Kristin Nelson, does great critiques that help both the original questioner and anybody who reads the critique. Frequent updates, averaging at least one a day, which is always my favorite thing about agent blogs: as much content as possible, as often as possible.

5.Jonathan Lyons, Lyons Literary Agency. And the newcomer! Jonathan Lyons hasn't been blogging for long, but he's starting off with some great stuff, like definitions of common industry terms like "auction" and "pre-empt" that aspiring authors hope to be lucky enough to need to know. He could update more frequently, but the voice is a nice clean one, and the entries are mostly bite-size tidbits. So of all the blogs on the list, his is the most... digestible? In any case, I'll be curious to see where he takes it from here.

Really, given all the changes in agent blogs between last year and this year, I'll be curious to see who's still standing in November 2008.


Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry

more about jael mchenry


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jason gilmore
11.6.07 @ 1:54p

no more Miss Snark? :(

Thanks for the heads up as I'm planning to submit my rewritten novel sometime early next year. I'll have to check these out.

jael mchenry
11.8.07 @ 11:00a

Ah, but you can always go to the Snarkives.

You should also think about going to the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar next year, if the timing works out -- I just met a couple dozen agents face to face and it's simply amazing how seeing someone in person gives you a whole new sense of who you'd like to work with.

jael mchenry
11.12.07 @ 11:48a

By the way, I'm absolutely thrilled to note that Rachel Vater (Lit Agent X) has posted on her blog again. Maybe the moment of silence helped!

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