What Agents Want, a conversation with Kevan Lyon

Many writers have heard the advice that going to a writers conference is how you meet agents, and it’s true. With literary agent, Kevan Lyon, I had more than just the opportunity to network, I got to engage in a lively discussion in a room full of unpublished writers. So, what do agents want?

“Remember that agents write query letters too,” Ms. Lyon begins. She discusses her own approach to crafting a query letter that sells the work, advising a three-sentence limit for telling the agent what happens in your story and a three to four paragraph limit for the whole letter.

“Give me an action description, high-concept of what your book is about–captivate me,” she says, and then shares a few of her pet peeves:

  • Query each agent only once.
  • Don’t make multiple submissions obvious.
  • Put the word query in your email submission’s subject line.
  • No typos!
  • Don’t tell the agent which publisher she should sell to–that’s her job.
  • Your story should have no background tangents in the first 150 pages.
  • There should be no single spacing in your manuscript.

And just as she reminds writers that agents have to write query letters too, she assures us that agents really do hope to love what we send them.

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