Agency R&R Requests: The Answer Key
with Tricia Lawrence, agent, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
Agents are busier than ever and working hard. The industry is watching a lot of watershed moments now. Things are changing faster than ever.
Agents are human beings (a.k.a. they can be fickle). They have to be completely passionate about what they represent. It is a subjective business.
A revision request is a GOOD thing. It means you’ve done something worth pursuing. It is not a rejection, not a closed door, but an open door, an invitation.
Agents don’t want to crush writers. That’s not what they’re there for.
It’s about more than just the book, it IS about you as a writer, YOUR passion, what’s YOUR story. Tricia’s 4-step author test:
1. What’s YOUR story, your axiom, your lens? How do you see the world? It will come out every time you write.
2. Do you know (specifically) where your work belongs? (Hint: “It’s for kids” isn’t good enough.)
3. How do you interact with kids today?
4. What do you watch, read, follow, etc. to keep in touch with your audience?
When you put the time into an R&R, it shows the agent that you are serious about this business AND that you’ll be able to eventually stand up to the revision letter from an editor.
“The thing is, once we have reached a certain mastery of craft, craft is no longer the issue. In order to take our writing to the next level we must embrace our strange, unique, and often embarrassing selves and write about the things that really matter to us. We need to be willing to peel our own layers back until we reach that tender, raw, voiceless place—the place where our crunchiest stories come from. We need to get some skin in the game. It should cost us something emotionally to tell our stories. But many of us who come to writing do so because they were voiceless at some point in their lives, so doing that can be the most terrifying risk of all.
Just as we must dance as if no one is watching, we must write as if no one is reading.”
What Tricia wants:
Tricia loves troubled characters, wounded narrators, kids who pretend everything is cool when they're actually dealing with really big issues, and the kinds of kids who tend to fall through the cracks. She's crazy about ghost stories and would love to see a middle-grade thriller. She's also interested in high-concept picture books.