At the April 4 Willamette Writers meeting, attendees got to hear from Laura Bradford, founder of Bradford Literary Agency, about what agents look for in writers. Here are some key takeaways from the presentation.
Are You Someone Agents Want to Work With?
Be nice. If your personality is too demanding, or if you are not receptive to the agent’s changes or suggestions, you likely will not get representation.
Be cognizant of your social media presence. Laura admitted to looking at authors’ social media profiles if she likes what they’ve submitted—this gives her a glimpse into the author’s personality, and she can get a good feel for whether this will be someone she wants to represent.
agents want “something that’s the same enough, but different enough.”
What Are Agents Looking For?
Laura sympathized with writers who are tired of hearing agents say they want something “new and fresh.” Ultimately, she said, agents want “something that’s the same enough, but different enough.”
How Important Is Personality in a Query Letter?
Literary agents get hundreds of queries a month—Laura said she gets about a thousand. When an audience member asked how important it is to show personality in a query letter, Laura said that with the amount of queries she gets, you wouldn’t be the first person to try something new and different in your query. She likely won’t read it and think, Wow, I’ve never seen that before. Agents read through query letters quickly, so don’t waste their time. Laura’s advice: Get to the point, and provide the details agents are looking for: title, word count, genre, and hook. And be sure to follow submission guidelines.