ADVICE FROM AN AGENT - Nancy Yost
Fiction Writer's Connection - Information on getting published, novel book writing, and finding agents
started out as a contract editor at Random House
, then moved to Avon Books
and worked there as an editor from 1986 to 1990.
is now one of three full-time agents at Lowenstein Associates, Inc.
, who, together, handle more than 150 writers of fiction and non-fiction.
There are several reasons why Nancy
decided to switch roles.
carries fifty clients at any one time.
That is not to say she
is always trying to sell fifty new manuscripts at once.
Each of her
writers produces one to two books a year and her
time is easily manageable.
But because she
does manage her
time well, a manuscript needing a lot of editing work will not interest her
"It won't be worth my while to take something like that on unless it's perfectly fabulous and I can see major money for it.
Some of the agency's well-known clients are Mary Mackey, Meredith Rich, M.C. Beaten, Rebecca Paisley, Emily Carmichael, Carole Berry, and M.D. Lake.
One of their newest clients, destined to do well, is Barbara Shapiro, a professor of deviant psychology at Tufts University
suspense/horror manuscript, Shattered Echoes, in the slush pile.
It was sold to Avon Paperback and just came out to tremendous reviews.
"That's a manuscript I really worked on, and I'm proud of it.
We have already sold two more of her
Barbara Shapiro hit the market with just the right manuscript atjust the right time.
describes what's hot now: "Really, really good psychological suspense, really really good commercial women's fiction.
That's what everyone is looking for.
To contact Nancy
initially, send a one-page query letter (two-page max) describing the project you're working on.
Be clear and concise.
Nancy wants to learn from your letter what kind of book it is (described in one or two lines), another paragraph discussing the plot, whether the manuscript is complete or not, whether you've ever written before, who it is you like to read and a comparison of your book to similar titles.
"The latter piece of information always helps because it tells me they know what's out there and they're current.
If the query grabs Nancy
, expect to receive a phone call from her
asking for a synopsis and a partial manuscript -- usually the first 100 pages.
cautions new writers not to worry about rejection letters.
What impresses Nancy
the most is quality -- style, voice, fresh thinking.
She's also impressed by a writer who is aware of what publishers are handling, who the current authors are, and by a writer who has done some homework and knows where their manuscript might be best suited.
always tries to give writers the benefit of the doubt.
"I try to overlook many errors.
If someone writes me how their Uncle Henry loved the manuscript, or they tell me the manuscript would make a good movie, I don't let it affect me.
If their errors are based on ignorance as to what's appropriate in this industry, I just let it go."
has received a presentable manuscript she
talks to editors on the phone before she
sends them out.
It gives her
a chance to feel them out, and it also gives her
a chance to express her
own enthusiasm for the project.
And what better qualities could you hope to find in an agent than enthusiasm for her
does not charge a Reading fee; photocopying fees are charged for large submissions (which are usually charged against your account).
"If the manuscript is not sold, something we try not to think about, they would be eventually billed for the photocopying.
If a writer prefers, he
can make their own copies and send them to me. " 15% commission on domestic sales, 20% for foreign sales.
Agentlauthor contracts are signed once Nancy has made a sale for you. member of AAR.