Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Leesburg First Friday: Inside the Mind of an Agent

by Linda Budzinski
We’ve all been there: cyberstalking—I mean, dutifully following—our favorite agents’ blogs and Twitter feeds in a seemingly endless quest to figure out what they’re looking for and how we as aspiring writers can attract their attention.

This month, the Writer’s Center–Leesburg Committee made that quest a little simpler, hosting agent Shannon O’Neill of Lippincott Massie McQuilkin at its October First Friday event at the Leesburg Town Hall. O’Neill offered an inside perspective into agents’ preferences and expectations and answered dozens of questions from audience members on topics ranging from how to find the agent who is right for your work to the elements of an effective query.

O’Neill spoke at length about attracting agents for non-fiction. Unlike fiction, where writers should complete the entire work before querying, non-fiction queries can take the form of a proposal with sample chapters. A key to a successful non-fiction query, she said, is establishing and communicating your platform. “Why are you the person to write this book, and why now?” she asked. “What’s the audience that is out there waiting for it?”

Coming Up in November

Speaking of non-fiction, the November First Friday event will feature Hilary Black, special projects editor at the National Geographic Society and author of The Secret Currency of Love (William Morrow), an anthology of original essays about how money affects and transforms personal relationships. At 7:30 PM on November 7, Hilary will share tips on how to write engaging non-fiction and how to catch  an editor’s eye, as well as her insight into the current market for nonfiction and what she is looking to acquire for National Geographic Books.  

The Writer’s Center–Leesburg Committee offers events the first Friday of every month except for December, January, July, and August. Events are held at the Leesburg Town Hall, 25 W. Market St., Leesburg, VA 20176.

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