Becca Stumpf's breakout session was one of the first classes I attended at this year's LDS Storymakers Conference, and she certainly got the morning off to a bright start! Becca is an agent with Prospect Agency in New York. One of the things I liked best about Becca was her enthusiasm. She was animated, funny, and full of smiles. (She also drank Fiji bottled water—one of my favorites. It's so refreshing! Seriously, try it!) J She started off telling us that she adores being a "book nerd" for a living. She also had one of the funniest lines of the conference! In a slight slip of the tongue during her presentation, she said "I awesome" instead of "it's awesome", and everyone had a good laugh. It just confirmed how approachable Becca is! J
Now for the highlights! Here are helpful hints for writers from Becca's class:
- Writers need to be professional on their blogs and in their tweets. It isn't appropriate to talk about your submission process in detail and doing so could cause a deal to fail. I think its good advice to be respectful of agents' behind-the-scenes work and the whole submission process. Let's be mindful of our internet presence!
- Becca said she doesn't think there is a certain time of year (or even specific months) when she receives more queries than normal. So don't worry about avoiding a "query season"!
- In your query letter, definitely include how you came to query a particular agent. A little personalization goes a long way. Plus, an agent wants to know why you think she or he would be a good fit.
- Becca confirmed what I'd heard from other agents: she does all her query and requested manuscript reading after hours. Let's make it easier for them by keeping our queries clear and concise. Master that one-line hook!
- Becca also gave a GREAT explanation as to why writers sometimes (often) receive a form rejection from an agent, even when the process has gotten all the way to a full manuscript request. Form rejections are disappointing, but Becca encouraged us to look at them in this light: If Becca were to write a personalized letter to an author with the specifics on why she had decided to pass on their MS, she may be compromising the integrity of that author's work/art. Because, at some point, somebody is going to love your story the way it is, or want to publish it with their own suggested changes. So, if you receive a form rejection, keep up the search for the ONE!
Becca's class was informative, fun, and encouraging. She should definitely be on your list of professional, approachable agents. Thank you, Becca, for your peek into the publishing world!