Writers’ Toolbox: Literary Agents
QueryTracker.net is a useful tool for those of us seeking a literary agent. Its database lists hundreds of agents in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and elsewhere. A hopeful writer can set up filters that limit the list to those agents seeking queries and to those interested in the genre you select. Then for each agent selected according to your parameters, you can check their client list and delete those immediately who show no clients. Anyone, even me, can call themselves an agent, but they have no contacts and no know-how and stand alone at publishing conferences.
Then I look at their client list, see if there’s an author I read on it and for those I don’t recognize, I check their entries on Amazon.com or Goodreads. This also helps in finding comparable novels that I can cite when asked what books are similar to mine. According to publishing expert Jane Friedman, the comparables should be published in the last two or three years and have a good number of reviews listed. Goodreads helps with this question also. Avoid the obvious ploy of saying your novel is like those written by big names like John Grisham or James Patterson.
Alas, as I plow through the list of likely agents, I continue to rack up rejection letters. Agents are not the gate keepers they used to be, but still it’s unfortunate that what’s published depends so heavily on an agent’s whim or preference or supposition on what the market will buy. However, what this exercise is doing is introducing me to authors I haven’t met yet, that I probably would never have met if it weren’t for a chance listing on an agent’s client page. Since I write cozy mysteries as well as historical and suspense novels, these are the authors whose books I select to read.
Cathy Ace and Ellery Adams
Two delightful series I’ve come across in searching agents’ client lists are written by Cathy Ace and Ellery Adams. Cathy Ace’s Welsh country house mystery series beginning with The Case of the Dotty Dowager. Henry Twyst, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth, is convinced his mother is losing her marbles. The dowager claims to have seen a corpse on the dining-room floor, but all she has to prove it is a bloodied bobble hat. He engages the WISE Enquiries Agency: Mavis, Annie, Carol and Christine. One is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English, to solve the mystery.
Ellery Adams Murder in the Mystery Suite is set in Storyton Hall, a resort hotel in rural western Virginia, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase bookings, resort manager Jane Steward hosts a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving. When the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is determined to find the real killer.
Eileen Haavik McIntire is staying home during the current coronavirus crisis. She hopes you are, too. What a great time to write and read!
Jan. 13, 2020: Speaking on "Self Publishing," 7 p.m. South Baltimore Chapter, Maryland Writers' Assn.
Blog: The Writer as Victim. See BLOG Page for complete column.
“The only difference between words and swords is the s.” -Scott D. Foard
I love reading and writing mysteries. Here are two of my latest.
From Kirkus reviews -
“McIntire’s latest novel is a fast-paced and multilayered thriller with well-developed characters and colorful settings...Most of the action is set in Virginia, and McIntire does a fine job of capturing the rhythm of its small-town life, from the friendliness of local business to the calm of quiet nights on the water. An engaging tale for aficionados of psychological suspense.”
The 90s Club & the
"The fourth title in author Eileen Haavik McIntire's "The 90s Club" series, The 90s Club & the Mystery at Lilac Inn is another deftly written and thoroughly entertaining read that will be especially appreciated by all dedicated mystery/suspense fans." – Midwest Book Review