Finding Your Dream Agent

Finding Your Dream Agent

By Dorothy Love

You’ve spent months, maybe years on a manuscript. Finally it’s finished and you’re ready to look for your dream agent. How do you wade through the bewildering maze of literary agents out there to find the one who is your perfect match? For twenty years, I’ve worked with wonderful agents in both the general and inspirational markets. Here are a few FAQ’s to help you  as you go about finding just the right match.

How do I find a reputable agent? Is the agent you’re considering a member of the Association of Artists Representatives (AAR)? This professional organization for agents handling literary and dramatic works sets standards for membership and requires their member agents to abide by a code of ethics. The organization maintains a database of members available to authors seeking representation.  Their official website provides a list of questions to ask of potential agents. Find it here:

Among the questions listed on this site, pay particular attention to these: How long has the agent been in business? How many clients does he/she have? How many verifiable sales has this agent made within the past year?

An agent has expressed an interest in my book but requests a reading fee up front. Should I pay it?  Because the potential for abuse is so great in this situation, the AAR prohibits its member agents from charging reading fees. Generally speaking you should look for an agent who does not charge such fees. A reputable agent does not get paid until he or she sells your work and collects the advance from the publisher.

What is an Author-Agent Agreement? Most agents require a written agreement that sets out the terms of representation. The agreement should indicate whether the agent intends to represent all your future work, or whether he or she will determine this on a book by book basis. The agreement should specify a time frame for selling the work and should include the terms and requirements for terminating the agreement. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of both agent and author, the  relationship just doesn’t work. It’s important for both you and the agent to understand how to sever the partnership in a professional manner.

Aside from these important legal considerations, you should consider the personal side of the partnership. It’s ideal if you can sit down with an interested agent and talk face to face. If that isn’t possible, schedule time for a telephone chat. A few questions to ask :

What form of communication do you prefer, and how often can I expect to have contact with you?  This very important question can forestall misunderstandings on down the road. Most good agents are very busy and don’t have time to give clients a day by day report. Since agents don’t get paid until a sale is made, they are happy to call clients the minute an offer comes in. Because editors are busy, too, this can take weeks. Understand, too, that the initial offer is just that–a beginning point. Your agent will then look over a short document from the publisher called a deal  points memo which sets out the basics of the offer. Many times these points are negotiated and changed. Your agent will keep you informed as the deal moves forward but don’t expect a daily report.

Some agents prefer to be contacted by email, others prefer the telephone. Try to accommodate their preferences.

What level of involvement with the creative process should I expect? Some agents are very hands on, and read their clients’ manuscripts before they are submitted. Others offer guidance and encouragement but expect clients to write and submit the contracted work with a minimum of direction.  In  my view, an author should write the book, the agent should sell it. Authors who need a detailed critique before submission should consider hiring a free-lance editor.

Do our personalities “click”? This is completely subjective but it’s very important to the success of a long- term relationship and it’s why a face to face meeting before you sign the agency agreement is so desirable.

Finding an agent with whom you can build a long-term, mutually advantageous partnership requires time and effort.  But the rewards of finding that dream agent can last throughout your career. New authors: Do you have other questions about finding an agent? Agented authors:  what questions would you add to this list? Agents: Describe your dream client.


Dorothy LoveBefore moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. Beyond All Measure, her first Hickory Ridge title from Thomas Nelson debuted in June, 2011 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Romantic Times.  The second book, Beauty For Ashes, released  in early 2012. The third and final book, Every Perfect Gift, released at the end of 2012. CAROLINA GOLD, Dorothy’s next novel, a stand alone historical, was published last November. Her latest novel, THE BRACELET, releases December 9th. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: or her author page on Facebook:

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Last Xulon Contests for 2014 Close Sunday!

I know this is a busy week (especially for us Americans), but it is NOT too late to enter either of the two remaining FaithWriters contests where the prizes are  Xulon Press Bestseller Packages. If you wait much longer, however, it WILL be too late. The deadline for both contests is Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Have an unpublished Christian fiction book with a strong biblical message (or even just the beginning of one)? Then maybe you should enter the Christian fiction contest. All Platinum members are eligible to enter (click here to join or upgrade). Simply send in your first chapter and a synopsis in a Word document and you’re entered! The winner will receive Xulon’s Best Seller Package and free premium publicity and marketing of the completed book on all FaithWriters’ sites. See complete details and instructions for entering on the FaithWriters’ Purpose-Driven Contest page.

If you don’t have a novel written – and/or aren’t a platinum member – you can still have an opportunity to win a publishing package through our Xulon raffle. And, again, the deadline is this Sunday. In this old-fashioned raffle with a high-tech twist, there are over three dozen ways to enter – everything from liking FaithWriters on Facebook to entering the Writing Challenge to hiring a FaithWriters-approved editor. Simply scroll to the bottom of the Purpose-Driven Contest page, review the rules, and enter as many or as few opportunities as you can over the next several days. You could be the winner!

Have You Entered?

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Finalists for 2014 Nonfiction Page Turner Contest Announced

In a week and a half, the winners of FaithWriters and Breath of Fresh Air Press‘s 2014 Nonfiction Page Turner will be announced. And as we wait, the lovely judges have whittled the 45 entries down to a top 15. Who are they, and how was the process? I think I’ll let the lovely Deb Porter tell you (from this post on the FaithWriters forums).

“Once again, it has been a privilege to see such heartfelt entries in the 2014 Non-Fiction Page Turner Contest. To everyone who entered, thank you for sharing your hearts, experience and wisdom through your writing. I have laughed with you, cried with you, and cheered you on–every single one of you, whether you made it into the top contenders list or not.

But now, with all 45 entries read and rated, we have our top 15 Finalists (and I will sleep well tonight!).

Please note, the list is in alphabetical order only.

Once again, the competition this year was quite impressive. There were other entries that just missed out making it into the Top 15. In most cases, this was due to the entries listed below being just a little stronger at this point in time. (So if your entry is not in the list, don’t be discouraged. You have taken a big step by preparing your entry and submitting it for this contest.)

Anyway, here are the Top 15 Finalists (in alphabetical order) for the 2014 Non-Fiction Page Turner Contest:

Altared Egos by Gail Raynor
Blessings from Italy by Milly Born
Doing the Stuff by Jennifer Dawn Dexter
Glimmers of God by Rebecca Real
God Is Who He Says He Is: Knowing God through the Valley by Stacie Snell
Hospitality – The Open Arms of God by Brenda Shipman
Lords Hill – A Place Only God Could Save Me From by Colleen Bruce
Piles of Stones by Debbie Roome
She Loved Sugar and I Love Salt by Francie Snell
Surprise in the Suitcase by Brenda K. Blakely
Teen Challenge – Repairer of Broken Walls by Leola Ogle
The Rock ‘N Tree Ranch by Nancy K. Sullivan
Unmerited Blame by Michelle Mitchell
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes by Lori Dixon
Your Home is Not Your Castle by Lillian Rhoades

Congratulations to you all.”

Congratulations indeed – and watch for the winners to be announced on Monday, December 1 (what are the prizes? Check this post for details).

Super Job, FaithWriters!!

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What Do YOU Want to See on the Blog?

The FaithWriters blog has been around for five years this coming January, and it has evolved some over that time – but one thing that has not changed is that this blog is for YOU, the FaithWriters member and Christian writer.

So, I thought it was probably time for me to come to YOU, and find out what you would like to see here. (Not that it hasn’t been asked before, mind you – but it never hurts to poll the people- right??

This blog, being part of FaithWriters, will always be a spot to find information on FaithWriters-sponsored contests and other such things, but I don’t believe that is al this blog should be. There are many other type of things that have been posted here – and I’m curious what you think of them – and whether you have ideas for others.

So, please peruse my list of possible topics for the blog, and let me know in the comments what you think of them – and share any of your own ideas for possible subjects.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Would you be interested in:

  1. Member spotlights/interviews
  2. Writing-related devotionals
  3. Articles from published authors on the craft of writing
  4. Articles on marketing, self-publishing, and other writing topics not specifically craft related
  5. Posts on different aspects of the FaithWriters site
  6. Post for writing motivation and/or inspiration
  7. Whatever else you can think of

Can’t wait to hear your suggestions!

What do you want to see on the blog? How about the site as a whole?


Creating Suspense Through Backstory

Creating Suspense Through Backstory

By Gail Gaymer Martin

Backstory fulfills a multitude of purposes from creating characterization, goals, motivation and conflicts. But today, think of backstory as a way to build suspense in novels from thrillers to romance. Suspense results from elements in your story that captures reader’s curiosity and pulls them forward searching for the answers. Will Sam find out about Andrea’s secret life? Will Andrea understand Sam’s fear of commitment before it’s too late? Will Jeb kiss Kate? Will Bret reveal the truth when Julia begs for answers?

Putting backstory too early in a novel is not only boring, it destroys its power to surprise readers. Learning to balance the revelation of backstory is a technique writers benefit in learning. Learn when to reveal backstory, how to reveal it and when to hold it back. Give serious thought to backstory before you supply information to the reader. Is it necessary to share this information now? Will it make a difference? Is it important if the reader doesn’t fully understand the reason the character refuses to do something or acts uncomfortable about a situation? Does your decision allow the reader to seek out an answer instead of being hand fed it? Will the reader enjoy playing detective and using their own brain to discover or even speculate what might be wrong? Will it mean more and surprise readers later when they know the character more fully?

Withholding backstory until it’s absolutely necessary falls into three categories: Keeping information from the reader, keeping information from a character or all of them or keeping information from one another while the reader knows.

As the author, you know the completed backstory. You can weigh the importance of sharing this information and the benefits of withholding it. Readers do not need nor want to know details too early. They prefer to figure things out for themselves. I have received thank you letters from readers for allowing them the enjoyment of using their own methods of searching for answers and discovering the truth, and they indicated being disappointed in authors who explain everything to them. So give that thought as you share information.

Continue Reading…

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Checking that your Challenge Entry was Received

Have you ever submitted your entry for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge, then come Thursday, not been able to find it in the current entries? Maybe you forgot to check for the confirmation page, or there was some sort of glitch that stopped it from going through. It can be frustrating, as there is nothing that can be done after the fact to have your entry in for that topic.

Well, now there is a way to be 100% certain your entry was received safe and sound. Once you have submitted your entry, go to the Challenge entry list link (just bookmark this link, or find it on the submission page for the Challenge OR the thanks for your submission page) – the titles of each entry submitted are listed there. If you don’t see your entry under the appropriate level, feel free to resubmit. If you do, you have nothing to worry about!

Thanks, Mike, for making this wonderful feature available. And the rest of you – get busy on your challenge entries for this week – your opportunity to Write a Travelogue! (Check out Jan Ackerson’s lesson on this genre here)

Gotta love that peace of mind!

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Don’t Let Your Big “But” Get in the Way

Don’t Let Your Big “But” Get in the Way

By Lynda Lee Schab

What circumstances (and/or excuses) have kept you from fulfilling your writing goals thus far?

In other words, what big BUT is in your way?

We all have them, don’t we? Excuses why we haven’t had time to finish that novel or submit that article. Reasons why we’re not yet published or haven’t fulfilled the dream that’s burning a hole in our hearts.

While not having an ounce of talent may quality as an excuse, for those of us who know we have the gift of writing, is there really any excuse to keep us from setting out to do what we know God has called us to?

Have you finaled in writing contests? Have you had work published in the past? Have you had reputable industry professionals who were impressed with your writing or who offered encouragement and support? Have people (other than your mother, spouse, or best friend) raved about your “way with words” or your knack for story-telling?

Then guess what? You have no excuse. Get rid of that big BUT.

Whether your “buts” are about finding time to write, landing an agent, getting published, submitting that article, joining a critique group, or entering that contest, one thing is for sure: making excuses is a guarantee for failure. Ok, so just getting up and doing it may not bring you the results you expect or hope for. It may not make you an overnight success. But it will bring you one step closer to realizing your dream. The dream you know that you know that you know God has put in your heart. And it will also give you the satisfaction of knowing you gave it your best instead of hid behind a curtain of pathetic excuses.

As George Washington Carver said, “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

So are you going to be included in that ninety-nine percent? Or will you be a part of that one percent that stops making excuses and just does it?

Which big but is standing in your way?


lyndaschabLYNDA LEE SCHAB got her writing start in greeting cards and has many articles and stories published in magazines and online publications. She is also a regular book reviewer for, but Lynda’s passion has always been fiction. Her novels, MIND OVER MADI and MADILY IN LOVE, are available in print and on Kindle. Lynda lives in Michigan with her two children. Learn more about Lynda on her website,

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Turn It Off

It was a busy time for me, and distractions were everywhere. Email lists I had no time to read. One hundred blogs I was trying to keep up on. Facebook. The messy house around me. Television in the background. My kids’ chattering. Snoring. Sound effects from Wizards 101. The cat attacking my leg – or sleeping on my head.

Where was that cone of silence when I needed it?

I had a big project to finish.  And I was behind. If I could just remove the distractions—turn off the noise around me – I would be able to catch up, and perhaps even surpass my goal. I knew it.

So, as much as I could, I did just that. I turned off the email lists and straightened (or ignored :::blush::: ) the messy house. I put in my ear buds. I shut down my internet. I did everything I could possibly do to turn off the noise around me.

But still, I was distracted. By what, you ask?

By the negative voices in my head.

Satan was whispering in my ear. He reminded me of the many rejections I’d gotten for my writing. Of how poor my descriptions were. Of how inaccurate my scenes were since I hadn’t researched the time period enough. How the bits I were writing were not crucial to the plot. About how far behind I was already. That even if I DID finish, the work would still be plenty, and I’d never find the time to get it done.

That I’d never be happy with what I had. So why not just quit?

And then I remembered that our God is not a god of discouragement or negative talk. That nothing great was ever accomplished that was simple. That God impressed on me to do this task.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9 NIV

A couple years ago, I came across a quote by Helen Keller that blew me away and encouraged me greatly. I hope it does the same for you.

Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will have a joy in overcoming obstacles—a delight in climbing rugged paths which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometimes slip backward, if the road were always smooth and pleasant. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. —Helen Keller

Heavenly Father, help me to turn off ALL the distractions that are keeping me from doing what You want me to—the outward ones when possible, and always the voice of the enemy, which, with Your help, is completely in my control to turn off. Let me persevere and finish strong. In Jesus’ name. Amen



November Starts Tomorrow – REALLY!

(So if you haven’t gotten your Nonfiction Page Turner entry in – hurry! Today IS the deadline!)

And there is A LOT going on here at FaithWriters (and elsewhere, for that matter!) in this eleventh month of the calendar year.

Of course, there’s the FaithWriters Writing Challenge (the genre quarter – this week’s topic challenges us to write contemporary fiction – who knows what styles of writing we’ll be challenged to try in coming weeks?).  Be sure to give a topic a try, read  and comment on last week’s entries, and/or check out the latest winners.

Plus, the two remaining opportunities to win Xulon Bestseller Packages wrap up at the end of this month. Be sure to check out the information at the appropriate page to find out the many ways you can enter the raffle to win a package – or send the beginning of a novel-length Christian fiction work with a biblical message to a second contest and get the chance to win a second package from Xulon. Deadline for both of these  contests is November 30, 2014. Check out the details – and get busy!

But FaithWriters isn’t the only place to celebrate writing in November. One of the biggest writing challenges/marathons I have ever heard of also takes place then. If you want to get a novel written, November may just be the month for you, thanks to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – when a gigantic community of writers of all genres are challenged to complete 50,000 words in one month. There are several FaithWriters members who participate – why don’t you be one of them?

And there’s ANOTHER month-long challenge in November – one that I just discovered myself a bit over a year ago – and this one is geared toward children’s picture book writers and/or illustrators. If that is more up your alley, why don’t you join ME as I and hundreds of others strive to get our picture book creativity going with Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo). The pre-PiBo festivities have already begun at host and picture book author Tara Lazar’s blog – with inspirational posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors, and other Kidlit professionals – and will continue throughout the month. There will be prizes too! The challenge? Come up with 30 picture book ideas in the 30 days that make up November. Check here for details – and here to register (you can follow along whether you are registered or not, but can’t win prizes if you aren’t registered).

 What are YOUR November Writing Plans?

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Nonfiction Page Turner Deadline This Week

If you still haven’t submitted your entry to the 2014 Nonfiction Page Turner Contest, I must congratulate you – on your procrastination. You are part of a proud, elite group of writers: those who squeeze their challenge entries in on Thursday mornings minutes before (or even a minute or two after!) 11am, who work best under pressure, who wait until the very last minute.

But there’s a fine line between delay and late – and that line is approaching fast. If your entry is not submitted by this coming Friday, October 31, it will be too late – and the next opportunity for this prize for a nonfiction work won’t be until 2016.

The eighth annual Page Turner writing contest (sponsored by, Finesse Writing and Editing Service, and Breath of Fresh Air Press) is into the home stretch, and this year, it’s for non-fiction. All you need to do is write the first chapter, together with a basic book proposal/overview of the planned book, and then submit it. Definitely doable in three days for a procrastinator like you, right?

If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500 , you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you. If you are not yet a Platinum member (click here to upgrade), this is the perfect reason to upgrade your membership.

Why enter, you ask? The prizes are quite impressive.

Continue Reading…

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