10 Tips to Finding an Agent by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers & Who Won Bethany Jett’s Book?

Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers headshotToday is April Fool’s Day, but there are no tricks here at The Christian Writer’s Den! Instead, I’m thrilled to offer a treat, 10 Tips to Finding an Agent, from author-sisters (for real) Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, a drawing for their new book, AND a free book from Bethany Jett!

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Be sure to read Betsy’s and Laurie’s bio and book info below, but I’m excited to go ahead and tell you they have a new book, The Shepherd’s Song: A Story of Second Chances, released a few weeks ago by Howard Books. Yay! I’ve read this book and I can say it opened my eyes to the power of God’s Word to change hearts around the world.

In celebration of their new book, Betsy and Laurie are giving away a free book AND sharing some agent secrets with us! Just leave a tip you’d like to share or a word of encouragement for the Writing Sisters, and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book. Just be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner.

And now, here are Betsy’s and Laurie’s 10 Tips to Finding an Agent. These are tips no one told them, but they’re sharing them with you today!

10 Tips to Finding an Agent 

by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

After twenty years of writing for children we felt called to make a change. We had not needed an agent before. Twenty years ago you could still have a manuscript read by a publisher without an agent, especially in the world of children’s books. Once we had a relationship with a publishing house we didn’t feel the need. Now that we were writing an adult book, The Shepherd’s Song, and we were writing about our faith – the rules had changed. We needed an agent – but how could we find the right one?

Here are some things we learned about finding an agent on our quest to write and publish The Shepherd’s Song.

  1. Pray. Throughout the process of writing the book we prayed for the “team” and waited with expectation to see what special people God would draft for us. In our 20 years of publishing we had never had an agent. Now as we moved into writing a book for adults we needed representation. We had no idea how to find the right person. We started with prayer.
  2. Don’t count on the 15 minute pitch. Relationships take time. We don’t know very many writers who found their agents during the pitch. We didn’t. The pitches were important for us. Getting our one sheet together and honing our description of the book was valuable. Seeing the reaction across the table to the way we presented the book was also helpful.
  3. Emailing your unrequested proposal is really a long shot. Everyone is overwhelmed with email and submissions. Think about building face-to-face relationships at conferences instead.
  4. Silence means No. We looked for God to open doors and close doors. Sometimes He worked through silence. “But she said she would get back to us in 6 weeks.” It took us a while to realize that the silence was a rejection.
  5. Nos can be helpful. No is an important part of shaping your book. With every no comes a chance to improve the book.
  6. Wait for the right person. You can say “no” too. Along the path to finding an agent we had some opportunities. One agent offered to consider representing us if we changed genres and wrote something more mainstream. We had to learn to wait and be true to the work that God had given us.
  7. Don’t be desperate. God called you to write and he has a plan for your book. Being desperate makes us take control of the process and make mistakes.
  8. Others writers want to help you in the search. We found our agent at a lunch for 700 people. A writing friend who had an agent saw him coming toward the table and moved over a seat to let him sit by us. That act of generosity changed our career.
  9. Be ready – always – in every situation. We got caught a few times without sample chapters when we didn’t expect to be asked for them.
  10. Keep your eyes open. Pray and watch. You never know when that moment will come.

When we least expected it our moment came. Greg Johnson from WordServe Literary sat down at our Betsy Duffey The Shepherd Song covertable. We connected and when he asked for our sales figures we had them. When he asked to see a one sheet we had it.

He asked to read the book and we sent it the day we got home. The next Monday we signed with WordServe. Not long after that he placed The Shepherd’s Song at Howard Books. But that’s another story.

Please share what you have learned along the way –

Betsy and Laurie
www.WritingSisters.com

Friends, don’t forget to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book from Betsy and Laurie. Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Back cover copy from The Shepherd’s Song: Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message. Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.” Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures. With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller Andy Andrews’s The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.

Bio: The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is  The Shepherd’s Song, Howard Books, March 2014. You can reach Betsy and Laurie at www.WritingSisters.com or www.facebook.com/WritingSisters. And here’s a direct Amazon link to The Shepherd’s Song: A Story of Second Chances.

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Bethany Jett cover Cinderella RuleAnd Who Won Bethany Jett’s Book, The Cinderella Rule?

Congratulations goes to Maureen Hager! I’m so happy for you, Maureen!

Please contact me with your mailing address and Bethany will get your book right out to you.

And readers, I know you want your own copies to give to teen and pre-teen girls in your realm of influence, so here’s a direct Amazon link to The Cinderella: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After.

And if you’re a youth leader, remember, this would make a great book for your girls’ small group study.

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So that does it for another Tuesday at The Christian Writer’s Den where we encourage, educate, and promote writers. I’ll look forward to seeing you Friday. 🙂

Happy writing!

Vonda

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  • I just finished The Shepherd’s Song. It was lovely. Thank you. Thank you also for this post. I’m getting ready for the ACFW conference in St. Louis, and I’m praying to do what the Lord needs me to do to stay on His path, but I feel like I’m inching closer and closer to desperation. An older post on managing rejection led me to the opening of James. I needed those verses in the context of writing and will be going back to it often as I wait on the Lord. Congratulations on your book!

  • kerry smithwick

    The Shepherd’s Song is amazing! And, these tips contain some good life lessons – Pray, Nos can be helpful, Don’t be Desperate and Be ready – always – in every situation. Blessings all!

    • Duffey Myers

      Hi Kerry, Thanks for your comments! Those life lessons are so hard to learn but so important – not just in writing and publishing. Good to see you here. Betsy and Laurie

    • Hi Kerry, Thanks for stopping by to encourage Betsy and Laurie. I hope you’ll come back and join us again soon! Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner!

  • Nancy

    I am just beginning my journey of writing my first book. It’s a daunting and exciting task all at once. I don’t consider myself a writer. A teacher yes, but definitely not a writer and yet I feel God calling me to write the story of my marriage. Thank you for sharing some things I will need to know down the line. Your book story line intrigues me. I can’t wait to read it. Nancy

    • Duffey Myers

      Oh Nancy, you hit it on the head. Writing and publishing is exciting and daunting at the same time! That’s why we need to stay close to God as we navigate the journey. God is at work in your life and in your story. Betsy and Laurie

    • Nancy, God called me to be a speaker through sharing my marriage testimony! At first I was brazen enough to tell God I wouldn’t do it. I finally relented, saying, “Okay, God, I’ll do this because you say I have to, but I’m not happy about it!”

      I went on the weekend retreat, spoke for 4 hours, and came home knowing what I was created for!

      Blessings on your project!

  • Thank you for sharing your success and I hope your book blesses people all around the world, too, just like the 23rd Psalm did.

    • Duffey Myers

      Thanks, Margery!

    • Hi Margery. It’s a good reminder to all of us that our words can’t reach others for eternity unless we speak and/or write them down!

  • gail cartee

    Thanks for your tips. As a beginning writer, I often feel pulled in a thousand directions when trying to get a book published or connect with an agent. Your words of wisdom help me get the right perspective — Let go and let God.

    • Duffey Myers

      Gail, Well put – Let go and let God! The more we can do that the better the work and more the peace. Betsy and Laurie

    • You’re right, Gail. There is so much to learn! But we all start at the same place…the beginning! Blessings as you take your next steps!

  • janet

    I don’t have a book (yet?) but although I appreciate all the other tips, I think the one most often overlooked is prayer and then being open to the opportunities and answers God puts in front of you.

    • You’re so right, Janet. Without prayer, we have no guidance and discernment. Blessings on your project!

    • Duffey Myers

      Hi Janet, Love the word “yet”! It speaks of hope and faith. Thanks for stopping by! Betsy and Laurie

  • Nan Jones

    What a WONDERFUL interview! Thank you ladies. Your advice is so helpful because you wrote it from the place many of us find ourselves in. I got goosebumps when I read the back cover copy for The Shepherd’s Song. That’s a great concept. Sweet blessings to you and your work.

    • Duffey Myers

      Thanks, Nan. We appreciate you encouragement! Writing and publishing is a very different experience for each of us but like you said we often find ourselves in similar places along the way. Glad that our story was an encouragement for you. Betsy and Laurie

    • Thanks for your encouragement for Betsy and Laurie. The story truly is a sweet journey of watching God’s Word in action!

  • I agree that going to conferences is a great way to connect with an agent. I met my agent at a conference last fall. Many agencies, the one I’m contracted with included, won’t look at proposals unless they come recommended by one of their writers or another publishing professional, but they’ll consider projects that are pitched at conferences. Thank goodness — because that was how I was able to be considered by them! Your book sounds intriguing. All the best!

    • Duffey Myers

      Thanks, Cheryl, We learned so much by going to conferences – not only from the presentations but from the stories of other writers. It is hard to even know where to begin to look for a publisher or an agent. Thanks for your insight. Betsy and Laurie

    • I totally agree! If an agent asks to see your proposal after meeting with you, he or she is sincere. But statistically, very few authors even follow through with the proposal!

  • Great Advice. Your second one really encouraged me. Thank you

    • Duffey Myers

      Oh yes, the 15 minute pitch. I can’t even imagine how many hours we spent preparing for those 15 minute bits of time. It was great training and gave us some fun stories later. We could write another post about what not to do during your pitch! Betsy and Laurie

    • Yes, it’s interesting how many writers come to a 15 minute meeting, expecting that you’ll be able to read and critique their writing from scratch. It’s just not gonna happen in that amount of time. Being prepared is critical!

  • Jennifer Hallmark

    So encouraging!

    • Duffey Myers

      Thanks, Jennifer, Good to see you here! Betsy and Laurie

  • Thank you for this encouragement. I really needed it. You reminded me that I needed hopeful anticipation … God didn’t lead me down this road for nothing. Again, thank you!

    • Duffey Myers

      Hi Shelli, You are making us smile 🙂 He is leading you somewhere but we don’t always know the destination until later! Keep following close. Betsy and Laurie

    • Hi Shelli, thanks for joining us today. I hope you’ll come back soon!

  • Sitting here nodding through your wonderful list. Love the cover and feel of your book! Blessings~~

    • Duffey Myers

      Thanks, Julie. The list includes all the things we wish we had known going into it. We appreciate your kind words about The Shepherd’s Song. Howard Books really created a beautiful cover and book. We love it too.

    • I love the cover, too, Julie. And it’s a sweet story of the power of his word.

  • Cheryl Pelton Lutz

    Hello friends,
    I am still on my quest to find an agent/publisher. Your testimony & advice have encouraged me to continue to seek His face & wait upon Him in this journey.
    Blessings,
    Cheryl Lutz

    • Duffey Myers

      Thanks for your comment, Cheryl. God has a plan for you and for your writing. It’s important (and encouraging) to remember that.

      • Cheryl Pelton Lutz

        Yes, Duffey!

    • Hi Cheryl. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll join us again soon! Blessings on all your projects!