Q4U: Got Any Advice For Me?

It’s another Friday, and phew, this week went by in a blur.

I was sitting here thinking about how much time I spend dispensing my opinions and worth-every-penny-you-paid-for it advice on this blog. And how much time I spend on the phone with clients, giving advice and offering guidance for their careers.

And for just a wee little moment there, I found myself thinking, I am just so tired. Don’t worry, I’ll get rested up this weekend. But isn’t it time someone else dispensed the advice for a change?

It’s your turn. Be Dr. Laura or Dear Abby or Dave Ramsey or… (not sure who else gives advice these days), and I’ll be the hapless caller or letter-writer:

Dear Advice Giving Guru,

I’m a literary agent and I need advice. How do I serve authors better? How do I deal with the changing publishing industry? How do I make my blog better? How do I find good clients? How do I deal with the ever-increasing volume of queries? Please don’t tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing. I really need your help. So give me whatever you’ve got. I’m listening.

All Out of Wisdom

And just so we’re clear, I’ll be back to my regular advice-giving ways next week. Have a good weekend!

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Jessica Nelson on April 12, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    >I'm so tired too, and I don't have near the reading load you do. Alot of people already made really funny or practical comments so I don't have much to add.
    I hope you had a nice, relaxing weekend though. 🙂

  2. prashant on April 12, 2010 at 5:17 AM

    >I would reflect on the above. If queries could get through a screening process before you see them, are your genre, and your minions have forwarded them on, than hopefully a good client or two should be among them.
    home jobs india

  3. catdownunder on April 12, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    >And, having read all of the other responses as well as my own, all I can say is that you probably need an extended cat nap. Being patted and told what a nice cat/human you are can be exhausting. Take a break and consider your options purrhaps? Hope you find a warm, comfortable, quiet spot for that nap.

  4. Mira on April 11, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    >Lorelei, that's diabolical. 🙂

    Okay, so I thought about this all weekend. First, I'm sorry you're so tired and maybe feeling abit burned out. Without knowing you it's hard to offer suggestions about that, but I will say that I always secretly know what it is that I need. Whether it's time to rest, more fun, less pressure, less things to do, more rewards – whatever it is that you feel lacking, I hope you find a way to bring that into your life. I hope that you take care of yourself!

    In terms of the blog, I think it's wonderful. I also guess I'm hoping that you find the blog to be a creative outlet and nurturing for yourself on some level. If you don't, maybe there's a way that you could….

    In terms of the industry, I think the industry has been based on networking and referral. That's about to change dramatically – I think. It's going to be based on a talent model. The most talented authors will find their way to the top. Not the ones that are the best at social networking, not the ones that can market the best, although those things don't hurt. But the ones that can write books that people want to read, that will spread through viral marketing.

    What that means for your blog, I would think, is less information about how an author can suceed in a networking model, and more focus on developing and building talent and perseverence. On the other hand, teaching writers the skills they may not naturally have – how to market, for example, is very valuable.

    I think you already do most of that, but that's what I've got. 🙂

    Hope some of that was remotely helpful, and again, I think it's wonderful that you talk to your readership and ask for this type of input.

  5. Lorelei Armstrong on April 11, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    >Require a synopsis with every query. Writers hate writing them. That will cut down the inbox volume.

  6. Jill Nutter on April 11, 2010 at 12:36 AM

    >Dear All Out of Wisdom,
    Wow! 94 comments and mine is 95. Go check out my post today at:

    It may be time to assess your battle wounds.

    Maybe that will help a bit. I know I'm going to copy all these bits of wisdom from everyone and keep them for myself. I had a really bad burn out day at work this week. Yuk! No fun.

    The fact that you're seeking wisdom is a good thing. Set boundries and live life to the full.


  7. Carol J. Garvin on April 10, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    >Dear Hapless letter-writer:

    Who am I to offer advice? I've been through burnout and back again twice! Mini sanity breaks are highly recommended, as is deep breathing (more oxygen for a tired brain), and drinking lots of water.

    As for the blog, I like it the way it is. It looks good and offers lots of helpful information and encouragement. If keeping up with it is beginning to require too much time, consider cutting the posts to every other day. We'd miss your daily presence but if you posted to a schedule we'd get used to it. We'll understand. You give back a lot via this blog, but as an agent I imagine your client work needs to be a priority.

    IMHO, finding good clients has to be an instinctive thing. If you don't already, start each session of query evaluations with a prayer for guidance, and then trust the instincts He gives you.

    This probably isn't new advice, but combined with everyone else's suggestions maybe it will help.

    Wishing you an epiphany,
    Advice Giving Guru

  8. Rebeca Seitz on April 10, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    >Rachelle – I highly recommend investing heavily in what we call here in Glass Road-land, "The Elixir of Life." The rest of the country calls it, "Diet Mountain Dew."

    Tried to keep all the balls up in the air without it one time and very nearly ran the firm into the ground. 🙂

  9. Dineen A. Miller on April 10, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    >Oh my gosh, 91 comments! I think there's a book here, Rachelle. LOL! Hope you share some of the good advice you get. I know I could benefit from some good time management ideas. Especially since I don't have the time to read all these! 🙂

  10. patriciazell on April 10, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    >1.) Have confidence that God is directing your path. If you feel you are being overwhelmed, ask Him what to do about it. And, don't worry about missing the next big- seller. If a writer is ready to be published and is seeking God, he or she will find the way. (I thought I was ready back in the 1990's–boy, was I wrong. My book is so much better now.)

    2.) I wouldn't be surprised if you dislike telling people "no." Try looking at each query as an opportunity to pray and then say a little prayer that God will bless that person. Then, whether you reject the query or not, you will have been a blessing to that writer. That could relieve some pressure.

    3.) I agree with limiting the number of posts you do a week. Because I am a high school English teacher, I only post once a week–in my case, each post is a chapter in my book. The number of visitors to my blog is growing (now almost 800 in seven days–that's exciting to me). One thing I have done is to categorize my posts so visitors can find the different topics easily–for example, all my posts on the book of Job are in one file. You might consider doing that, if possible. That way, if someone wanted to read about queries, your posts would be in one place.

    4.) Finally, be yourself! Life, even at its best, is chaotic. If you need time off, take time off. If you want all your posts on one day, do it. Keep in tune with yourself because you are a blessing to a lot of people and you are one (among many) of God's beloved daughters! 🙂

  11. Em-Musing on April 10, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    >I meant to convey that while agents my find joy in writing blogs, "time is money" in business. Your time is valuable. And you, as many other agents do also, give your time for free with your blogs.

  12. Em-Musing on April 10, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    >Have a virtual meltdown where everything is suddenly GONE! Be a guest on someone else's blog explaining that it will take you a few months (a year?)to be up and running again. Apologize to authors and tell them to resubmit again. Now, take care of business. Think of this: people used to get paid to write columns n.k.a. blogs. Agents write and give advice away for free. It's time-consuming. Where's the joy (not to mention the $$$)?

  13. Mandy Muse on April 9, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    >1) Get an intern to weed queries that are obviously not right. Once you are happy with their ability to do that, get them to weed further by taste and only pass you the best. By sharing a gmail account, you can double-check their work at first, for each stage.

    2) If it's not a Heck Yeah! it's a No. That is, if anything new crosses your desk, and you say Heck Yeah! then add it to your work. If it's a "maybe" or an "I guess" or an "I should", then it's a No.

    3) List everything you currently do and apply rule #2 to see if you want to keep doing it.

    4) With your beautiful new free time, do something that nurtures your soul, which could be nothing at all 🙂

  14. Steve on April 9, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    In one sense the advice I have to give is commonplace to the point of being cliche. But perhaps I can frame it with some added impact.

    In fact, maybe I'll give essentially equivalent advice in a couple different modes.

    Bottom line first. The deep-down feeling of tiredness you are feeling is usually a sure sign of trying to do too much. It's admirable, but unchecked may easily lead to mental and/or physical destruction. Not only are you not obgligated to "do it all" – you're not cpapble of it. Think about what you *can* do, within your available powers and abilities. The psychologist Carl Rogers once quoted his father to the effect "Don't be a damn ammunition wagon – be a rifle."

    Okay – that was pass one.

    Same song – different tune.

    Although for various reasons I can't claim to be Christian, it is nonetheless that the Christian tradition is my lifelong spiritual background. So let's cast the advice in those terms.

    You are here for a reason – as are we all. It is often unclear what that reason is – although we have glimpses. But although we may not know the plan, we are in the hands of a loving and powerful God who does know. We are told that if we go to Him with our fears, uncertainties and weaknesses, he will give us help, comfort and strength. As a practicing Christian yourself, I'm assuming that taking such things to God is a familiar part of your spiritual life.

    Just do it. And, of course, listen for the answer. Even if it's not what you wanted to hear. Especially if it's not what you wanted to hear. :}

    Riff 3 – a more secular version.

    You already know more of the answers that you are willing to acknowledge. It's not unlikely that you are asking advice in the half-expectation of someone else telling you what you already know. The 12 step recovery groups speak of a "higher power". For some this is the traditional God. For others it may be simply your own best self – the one that already knows.

    Do you ever engage in internal dialogue – asking yourself difficult questions and generating interesting answers? I do, and I'm always struck be how much smarter and more knowledgeable the answers are compared to the questions. I already knew – but I still had to ask.

    So, second bottom line, I can't give you too many useful specifics about rearranging your life efforts. But I don't need to. You can get them yourself.

    Best wishes and thanks for all you do, Probably less is more. Take care of yourself, please. We would not want to lose you.


  15. Lenore Buth at www.awomansview.typepad.com on April 9, 2010 at 10:42 PM

    >Dear All Out of Wisdom,

    Every Pitcher of Wisdom will run dry if it keeps on pouring out and never stops long enough to refill.

    I suspect you forgot to build in time for yourself, for what replenishes and nurtures you, no matter what else is piling up in your office. Even a few minutes can make a difference.

    I know this is true, but this fellow struggler finds it extremely hard to do. (It would be easy if we were choosing between good and bad, but how do we choose between good and good?)

    Your blog is wonderful, but if you didn't post every day, we'd get along. Take time for yourself and your husband and daughters and you'll, time for prayer, and then worry about posting for us.

  16. Empty Refrigerator on April 9, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    >Asking for advice is a brave thing – and taking in too much can be tiring in itself. So pace yourself with these comments!

    I know you exercise, but do you meditate? If not, you might want to look into that – even just ten minutes a day or every other day can help with energy and groundedness.

  17. T. Anne on April 9, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    >As humans we’re not engineered to do it all, but apparently we are programmed to believe we can.

    I’ve read most all of the comments, and you have some great advice. Here’s mine; have you considered cutting back your blog to three days a week? Say, M,W,F?

    If that’s too drastic, how about a regularly occurring stat post on Tues. (readers to leave their WIP, query stats, word counts, genre’s, goals etc…), plus just a quick question on Friday? That cuts back on two meaty posts.

    I think clients and queries are your bread and butter so I can’t see cutting back in those areas. I’m assuming you have it organized with dedicated hours for each.

    Can I just say thank you for all of the kindness you show to writers? I feel like I’ve had more of a professional relationship with you than I did with the agent I had years ago. I appreciate every blog post, and all of the time you put into everything you do. Plus, your webinar blew me away.

    As my old boss used to say, good strong work.

  18. Steph on April 9, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    I think a large part of what you're dealing with is that you are big-hearted and super-responsible. You simply can't change that (and we wouldn't want you to), so figure out how to find people to assist with those character qualities. Maybe someone to look at queries and rate them "yes," "maybe," "no." Then you could look at them by those priorities and still have a chance to switch someone out of a "no" or "maybe" into a "yes." You could also delegate answers to queries. Designate Rejection Reasons #3, #5, and #9 to this query, and RR # 1 and #7 to that query. That's still personal input from you, just fleshed out by someone else in the actual letter. What you want is greater efficiency, yes? God told a weary Moses to assign subordinate judges to help carry his burden. Maybe you could find one or two subordinates to help you?

  19. Anne Lang Bundy on April 9, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    >Dear A.O.O.W. ~

    1. Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: "You can please some of the people all the time or all the people some of the time but you can't please all the people all the time." So work to please God. (me)

    2. Be true to yourself and your gifts.

    3. The blog I'd offer as the best example of concise, organized and helpful on the entire www is "Rants & Ramblings." If you stay here and read it a while you'll have a worthy example to emulate.

  20. emily on April 9, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    >This isn't about books–quite frankly, I haven't enough experience at what you do to offer you advice there. But I have five decades of life to draw on, ten of them running a very hectic ministry, so what I have to offer comes from that.
    1. Put a list of people, by priority, somewhere you can see it all the time. i.e. "God, spouse, kids, extended family if relevant, close friends, mentors/mentorees. People who pay the bills fit in there somewhere, of course.
    Then every time you have to choose between tasks, look at that list, and ask: What choice fits my people priorities? what choice puts them out of balance? (Prayer fits in here.)
    And keep doing it, even after it's second nature.
    Helping the world is off the mark if the ones you are specifically called to suffer because of it.
    And by the way, thanks for your help.

  21. Lissa on April 9, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    >You have to take care of yourself, before you can help anyone else. It's not rocket science… if you're tired and need a break, then take one. We (all of us ridiculous people blessed to live in first world countries with first world problems like too much ice in our freezers) run ourselves ragged looking for a way to keep up, and get ahead without ever slowing down.

  22. Rachel Pudelek on April 9, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    >Your blog is amazing, don't worry about making it better. It's the best already.

    And as far as the other issues- After I worry myself silly and use way too much brain power trying to figure a way around reality, I am reminded to get on my knees and pray. To really talk to God in quiet time. He loves you. He knows you best (seeing as He made you). And He is always more than happy to direct your path. 🙂

  23. Ashley on April 9, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    >Dear All Out of Wisdom,

    You're doing a great job! Take a break and come back when you feel refreshed!


    In Need of a Break Too from Valencia California

    LOL. That picture perfectly describes how I feel today…burnt out! We just need to remember to take care of ourselves mentally and physically and then we'll be good to go!

  24. XDPaul on April 9, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    >Here's my tip:

    Write an outline/proposal for a book on the agenting process for writers – (50-65000 words would do just fine).

    Then, and this is the critical part, pitch it cold to agents.

    Blog about your process from the other side. When you do get an agent, include that real-world process as part of the mss.

    Then, of course, sell the heck out of the book to us and retire on the royalties. Because, as you always say "book publishing is the quick and easy way to untold riches."

    At least, I'm pretty sure you say something like that, right?

  25. Annie Jones on April 9, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    >Keep doing what you're doing but don't let it do you in.

    I only recently discovered your blog and love it for it's honesty and attitude.

    Advice I'd give as a long time published author to an agent in this new marketplace… keep your writers in the loop. We're all feeling like kids spun around too many times, blindfolded and set loose to swing at the unseen pinata these days!

    Enjoy your weekend.

  26. Mira on April 9, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    >Oh wait.

    I'm still thinking of what advice to give. I'm so excited that someone actually wants my advice.

    But I see that I over-looked an very important question….

    Did you ask for advice about the ever-increasing volume of queries?

    I'm not sure I understand the question…..You mean, is there a way that would reduce the time spent on queries?

    Like a more streamlined system, for example? An easier and more effective way to find potential clients?

    Do I have a suggestion for that?


    Nope. Can't think of a thing.

    Boy, if only I could come up with something….

  27. Timothy Fish on April 9, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    >Anonymous 11:48,

    There are a couple of reasons why I must disagree with your assertion. One, agents are not machines. People generally assume that we can make sense of the first sentence based on the sentences that follow, so if the first 256 characters don’t make sense on there own, the agent is not going to stop reading the query. Consider the following:

    Dear Rachelle:
    I am from the island nation of Kamboolaboo. And while sad to admit that the name of our island is larger than the island itself, I am writing to you in hopes that you will represent me in a matter that is important to both of us. Five years ago…

    That’s roughly 256 characters and at this point, we don’t know enough to know whether this person is actually from an island nation or if this is part of the story. The agent is therefore forced to keep reading or risk rejecting a good story. But consider the following:

    An Internet con-artist from Kamboolaboo gets more than he bargained for when one of his victims decides to wipe the island nation off the face of the globe.

    That’s only 158 characters and the agent doesn’t have to read more to know whether it is worth reading the query or not.

    The other reason I disagree is because it is much quicker to make a decision about individual items when they are among a list of others that we can see on one page. If the author knows this is how the agent is going to be making the decision, the author will write those 256 characters as if that is all there is. On the other hand, if he has a page available to him, he will do more to build up to the big payoff.

  28. Katy McKenna on April 9, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    >I wouldn't hesitate to take counsel from Mary DeMuth, who is working to identify her OneThing that she's called to do, and having to let some other (very good, wonderful in fact) endeavors fall away or be pruned back. I noticed today that she will soon bring her successful blog, wannabepublished, to a close and is referring her readers to THIS blog. 🙂

    Mary has got me thinking (yet again!) about how to streamline my life and FOCUS on my OneThing. You, like Mary, do so many things excellently, that I imagine it's hard to delegate or cut back. But it might be necessary for your health and well-being, and in order for your OneThing to excel still more. Mary's come up with a new statement of her OneThing, which I believe states her purpose succinctly and definitively. I'm attempting to follow her lead! Praying for you….

  29. Sarah on April 9, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    >You encourage writers to find our voice, but you too have a voice. Your website and blog posts (and even your rejection letter) "sound" kind and sincere. Stay true to your voice because it makes you somebody special, somebody we would all be honored to work with someday.

  30. Designs by JoLea on April 9, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    >Two Words: Spring Break!

    Close submissions, turn off the phone AND the computer, and take a break. You do what you do, so very well, because you love it. If you're feeling burned out, take a break – you still love it, and we ALL want you to be loving it next year when we have the next breakout novel to query. Please, "for the love of all that's…" take a little break.

    God Bless You!

  31. Brandi Schmidt on April 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    >I love you blog and think you are doing a great job. You are popular because you seem approachable and kind. What aspiring author wouldn't want that in a agent?

    My pastor does 7 services on Sunday between two campuses. Once he said he just keeps it in the moment. Not looking forward or back. It's not so overwhelming that way.

    God wouldn't of given you the gift if he didn't want you using it. As long as you have him first, everythig else will fall into place.

    That is my advice. Take what you like leave the rest.

    Have a restful weekend!

  32. Daryl Sedore on April 9, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    >Thanks for the opportunity to comment on such a topic.
    The most important thing you can do, in my opinion, is to recharge your batteries on a regular basis. Weekly, biweekly, or monthly, take some time for yourself. Turn it all off, all levels of stimuli, run a hot bath, get a massage, go for a drive in the country (without cell phone) and just relax. You'll find you come back to the table with pep.

  33. Loree H on April 9, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    >Dear All Out Of Wisdom,

    As a Christian, you, and only you, know what order to put your career in. Deep down, you know what needs prompt attention, but you also know what you can let go to the back burner or cut out all together.

    As far as your career, you need to honor your present clients with the best you can give. This is why you became an agent. It's what you love. We all can see that you love to help people with their writing, even if they aren't your clients.

    Personally, I think you need a break from your blog and/or others you may follow. I think the idea of guest bloggers or an assistant to help you with this is a wonderful idea. If this means you blog once a week or once a month, so be it. I believe these Blogs and social network sites take a lot from us, especially our time. How can we do our real jobs and write our novels if we are constantly blogging? I follow your site because it is very informational for me as a writer, but if you only posted once a week, I think all of us would survive it.

    The farther you spread yourself thin, the less of a good agent you become. When the time is right, I want a good agent – one that's not going to be so tired that she falls asleep drooling all over her computer w/a cup of coffee in her hand. 😉

    Advice Giving Guru

  34. Catherine on April 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    >Dear Overwhelmed,

    Too often we allow ourselves to live a life out of balance. While often it is a result of taking on more things that we should, sometimes it is a matter of taking on things that are not right for us. You listed several things that you try to do in your life – be a better agent, reach out to writers, find new clients, deal with queries. In all those things, I sense a need for being more productive. But sometimes, being more productive does not mean doing more. Sometimes, it means doing things smarter.

    Stop for a moment and write down the things you do in your life that are related to being an agent. Dealing with current and potential clients, engaging in social media, attending conferences, keeping abreast of the industry – anything that takes up your time and energy (mental and physical). Now look over that list and ask yourself some questions.

    What is the common theme here? Is it to try and reach as many writers as possible so as to help them with their journey and craft? Is it to ‘be there’ for your current clients? Is it to grow as an agent by expanding what you know about the industry and by what you represent? You may answer yes to all those questions, but you need to dig deeper and find the one unifying goal or purpose in what you are choosing to do with your ‘agent time’.

    When you have figured that out, go back over the list you made. Now – what doesn’t belong? What activities are not helping you reach that goal or fulfill that purpose? Can you eliminate those tasks? If you feel you cannot, then how can you change how to approach or engage in those tasks so that the activity becomes better aligned with your purpose and goals?

    Often when we feel overwhelmed, it is because the things we are doing in our lives are out of balance with our life’s purpose or with the goals we have set for ourselves. When this happens, we have two options. Stop engaging in those tasks that do not contribute to reaching our goals, or figure out how to change how we approach those tasks so they make more sense for us. When we are engaged in the right things, and engaged in them in the right ways – we have a life in balance, and those feelings of being overwhelmed to the point we do not know how to handle everything tend to subside.

    It is hard to say ‘no’ to things for fear of missing out or not doing all you can do. None of us want to miss out on opportunities. But if you are exhausted or feeling as if you’ve too much to do all the time – it is harder to see those opportunities as they come. You’re too tired! By reviewing the thing you do – and either eliminating or changing some tasks – you will find yourself in a better state of mind and more open to what’s going on around you.

    Practical tips – if you blog and twitter daily, try changing that to either a weekly blog or a daily, but with one or two days for guest blogs. You could also offer a recap day on Friday or leave Friday an open-ended blog discussion – burning questions writers want to know perhaps. This would take some of the burden off you.

    Close submissions as needed. Set a maximum number of queries you feel comfortable having in your email box. When that number hits, close to submissions until you’ve caught up.

    By working ‘smarter’, you will automatically be better able to help your current and future clients. You will have more energy and more focus – and that will help you with everything you do. But to get there, it does involve making some tough decisions and choices about all that you currently do in your life as an agent.

    Dr. Cat.

  35. Anonymous on April 9, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    >Timothy Fish:
    Agents already do that. They don't read a long letter if the first 256characters don't cause them to read on. Your idea would simply cause further work.

  36. Rachelle on April 9, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    >Tom Dowler: Your advice made me laugh, and I can't help it, it's my favorite idea so far today!

    Carol Benedict: There is already a Search function on the blog. It's in the very top, left hand corner, in the Blogger strip across the top.

  37. Timothy Fish on April 9, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    >In your place, what I would do about the increasing number of queries is to start focusing on micro queries. I would ask people to tell me about their book in two or three lines of text 256 characters, let’s say. Once a week or so, I would scan through all of the ideas. Every idea would get a quick yes or no. If I still had more than I wanted to mess with, I would go through the list again, eliminating the weakest. Once I had done that, I would send out two form letters. One would say thanks but no thanks and the other would invite the author to send a query. Those queries would form my much smaller slush pile, which I would handle in much the same way you are handling your slush pile now.

    Of course, me being me, I would have a form on my website that is the frontend of a database through which people could submit their stuff. It would enforce my rules about submitting and make it easy for me to mark which ones have made it to the next selection round and the website would automatically send the appropriate form letter.

  38. Carol Benedict on April 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    >I suggest cutting out the Friday blog. That would mean only 4 posts to prepare and fewer comments for you to spend time reading.

    I would like a "Search" function on the blog to make it easier to find relevant posts. Even with the Find Posts on This Blog feature, it's sometimes hard to find the specific information that I remember reading "somewhere" on your blog.

    Thanks for doing a great job guiding writers toward success.

  39. Jessica on April 9, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    >I am not yet at the stage where I am querying agents, but when I am ready, I would expect the agent to be honest. I will not query any and every agent, so the few I choose, I would hope for honest feedback as to why they would reject my query letter and the beginning of my manuscript. I always look for constructive criticism, and I hope to get some. As an author, all I ask from an agent is honesty.

  40. Tom Dowler on April 9, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    >Spend a week replacing all the "it just wasn't the right fit," "i'm sure you'll have more success with a more mainstream agency," etc, platitudes with the most hyperbolically (is that a word?) insulting nuggets of hate, Simon Cowell stylee. "Never, for the love of all things holy and pure, ever commit pen to paper ever again," "you are not a writer," etc.

  41. Shannon Dittemore on April 9, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    >I don't have any literary advice for you, lady, but a dear preacher once shared that though the world around us may swim in a sea of turmoil, the Lord has called us to live in peace. I pray you find some today.

    God bless. Your efforts are appreciated.

  42. Wendy on April 9, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    >Dear All-Out Agent:
    You have a job you love – and while for most people that's where their sympathy for you ends, I say remember why you love it! Sure, you love seeing new books and holding them in your hands before the public, knowing you had a part in making that book find its way in the world. Of course, we all know that it's fun to make people go into a bidding war and negotiate that contract for top dollar. But really? I'm betting it's your clients you love. Helping their dreams come true, honing their skills, taking the messages they've been given to encourage and inspire and helping them to reach the most people possible with them. In short… focus on the people end of the job.

    Make sure your day off is a real day off. If I were you client and I was reading this I would want to tell you, right now, to take the time off. Don't answer every phone call for a day. Get a real break. I really think God knows we need it – He even demonstrated rest after creation!

    Lastly: For reducing your query pile… I have no suggestions cause I'm covertly blogstalking and watching you on twitter for the day you open yourself up to my genre! 😀

    Advice Column Fakeartist

  43. writer jim on April 9, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    >In no way am I making any assumptions about Rachelle's spiritual life… this advice is for every one of US, and ME:

    To have God wonderfully involved in your life, you should resolve to become willing to do things God’s way. After all; to choose to be your own boss, rather than to let God be your boss, is as futile as choosing a baby to pilot a jet plane.
    We should pray: God, I want to succeed in doing your will, for your glory. If you will speak to me: I will OBEY.

    In the case of a literary agent I would expect things like this to occure:
    Agent thinks to self, "That's the worst query I've read in a month!" But God would interject, "That BAD query is going to be a great book to help a multitude…request the manuscript." The agent's obedience could bring the success they've but dreamed of.

    A while back I was overwhelmed (as Rachelle apparently is) with work, etc…especially a severe problem that was causing me sorrow and stress. I'd tried to find relief from for a year. Proffessional experts told me there was no way possible to help my problem.
    One day my phone rang. I could hardly stand the thought of even answering it. But God told me to answer, AND witness to the caller, AND go to their home. SO; rather than saying "wrong number" I said "God told me to help you get saved" The man burst into tears and said He and his wife had been talking for two weeks…wondering about God and salvation.
    I made the long drive to their home…where at the kitchen table he and his wife received Christ.
    After an hour of answering their questions, etc, I was about to leave. Then I noticed something in the room to do with one of the world's most famous women.
    I couldn't help but inquire. They answered, "We just helped her with a serious problem." The problem was the same as mine. This couple turned out to be a team of world class experts. When I told them my need, they said, "It's easy for us…we'll help you. Everything will be solved in a few days." And it was.

    I have seen God work this way all thru life. We must seek to serve Him, and tell Him you'll OBEY if He will speak to you. Then simply OBEY and see God in action.

  44. Ruth in the Desert on April 9, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    >I am impressed by how often you blog. When I'm working on a project I completely forget to blog, or I blog in a sloppy unedited style. I agree with the posters here who advise a break. Perhaps you could blog a little less and take a few more bubble baths while sipping the beverage of your choice.
    I also liked the idea mentioned above of blogging through the process of helping one particular author.
    I'd also like to read some simple posts that are lists of recommended resources. I need a resource that will walk me through the process of seeking publication. I have two books I'd love to have published, but I can't seem to make time to research publication while writing the next project–and I always have a Next Project to work on.

  45. Anonymous on April 9, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    >I just started blogging five days a week in January, and I'm already flagging. You must be toast.
    You could drop to posting once a week and have your authors guest-blog on the other days. (I enjoyed your Code Blue author's post.)

    As for the queries, how about hiring a screener? You could make your blog work for YOU by posting a variety of queries and seeing which commenters choose the same ones you would, then hire them.

    However you do it, the word I'm thinking of is, DELEGATE. 🙂

  46. Misty on April 9, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    >Hi Rachelle,
    I hear you, girl. I get tired too and I'm at the other end- trying to bust through the ceiling. Seems like a long way up somedays, don't it?
    Got some suggestions for you:
    How to Serve Authors Better: I haven't queried you, so I don't know if you do standard rejections, but I know as an author, standards don't help me improve. I want to wow you as much as you want to be wowed. If you think my writing is good but you need a different story, tell me. I know it takes time, but it also hones the queries you'll get. Even if you tell me my topics suck or I need more voice or I'm WAY to addicted to adjectives…all helps. And it will help you because I'll learn and produce and hopefully, it will be something we can both make a little loot with!

    Dealing with the changing publishing industry: I'm a roll-with-it girl. Find a new niche. Are you talking the electronic publishing? I guess I don't know enough to give you a really good answer.

    Blog better? Huh? You've got helpful info that helps me get to know you and hone my skills…nothing's better than that.

    Find good clients: Well, hi there. Here I am! I'm a great client looking for a stellar agent to create a team that needs capes to transport our awesomeness. BUT I'm also a newbie, so it's still kind of hard to tell. That's the trouble with finding rough diamonds.

    Maybe do what we authors do to find the agents we like: I scope your tweets on Twitter and if you're interesting, I look up your blog and if I read your blog and think we'd click…then I'm gonna be on you like a pooch on a pig ear. It would work a lot better in your direction because writers want to be found!

    And, the ever-increasing query pile: how about requesting queries are submitted with genres in the title line? For example: Query Rachelle, Wicked Funny Romance or Query Rachelle, Dark and Freaky Ghost Story. At least you'd have an idea of genre or topic. You can eliminate the ones you don't take with a standard reject (or none, if they can't figure out what you take); skim the ones that appeal most at the moment and file the ones you have to get to.

    Hope it helps and if you're looking for a new diamond…give me a holla! I'm looking for a cape-worthy agent myself!

  47. hannah on April 9, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    >Respect us. That's all we want. It doesn't mean you have to read our stuff. It doesn't mean you can't send us form rejections. It just means we don't have to worry about agents talking shit about us because we sent a bad query letter.

  48. zachterry on April 9, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    >Ok here’s my advice –
    1. Find some aspiring young Pastor/Writer, who has a growing audience of leaders, with an incredible manuscript.
    2. Champion the cause of getting him published.
    3. I’ll send you a query soon. 🙂

  49. David Alton Dodd on April 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    >1st, you don't have to blog every day, you'll still be relevant and your advice will still be appreciated.

    2nd, talk about the publishing industry, that's what you're supposed to know, leave the writing (no matter how horrible) to those who keep trying. You speculate on the direction of the industry, writers shouldn't be concerned about it, their opinions aren't as relevant as is yours. They're supposed to be mostly writing.

    3rd, those of us who follow you and like you want to hear your opinion, but this should be one of the least important aspects of being an agent, the first being servicing existing clients, the second being seeking out known authors who might not be represented, and then the slush pile. We are below the query process expecting you to constantly blog. It's appreciated, but anyone that doesn't understand your priorities is bound to be a bad potential client anyway.

    That's my advice.

  50. Thoughtful Spot on April 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    >You need a Sabbath – time with Father. Make sure that the busier you are the more "listening" prayer breaks you take. Make sure you are reading His Word more than the words of others, even if that is your job. He has the wisdom you need, the focus, the priorities, the plans. How wise of you to seek counsel, but only He can highlight what is worthwhile.

  51. Kathy on April 9, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    >I LOVE Katherine Hyde's suggestion to reduce # of queries! I also agree that cutting back to 3 posts per week would free up some of your time and NOT dissuade your loyal readers.

  52. Casey McCormick on April 9, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    >I was going to suggest a no-response policy, but it looks like you already have a good one in place. I may be in the minority here, but I think this completely makes sense for agents given increasing amounts of queries.

    Quite a few agents are now using remote interns (I’m one). You could put a call out for applicants (or ask for referrals), interview, and find one or more to help you pre-screen queries and/or reading material.

    I think your blog is wonderful as it is.

    And as far as the changing publishing industry, keep up with publishing news and advancements as you have been and don’t be afraid to try new things and change with the times. I think that's the most anyone in the industry can do.

    Lastly, feel free to reduce the number of days you blog. You've covered soooo much already. You could easily expand your list of top, helpful articles on the sidebar and take a breather from the blog.

  53. Arabella on April 9, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    >I second what Sandra Bricker said, except that I think you could take a blogging hiatus or delegate the blogging responsibilities for a while, if you wanted to.

    On a personal level, I tend to feel revived if my husband takes me out on a date at any point during the week, and if I take a long siesta on Sunday after church. I probably couldn't survive my schedule without those two things.

  54. Michael Joshua on April 9, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    >I would have to say that the only thing I would appreciate is a time frame wherein I could expect a response. Whether it is 60 days or 180 days doesn't matter so much as knowing when is really appropriate to follow up without irritating an agent who is reviewing a manuscript. I understand that agents are busy – and I get the waiting part, but a little guidance on time lines would help us out.

  55. Mira on April 9, 2010 at 10:27 AM


    Thanks for this post – I really appreciate that you are letting us know how you feel! 🙂

    I liked what VMichelle said.

    So advice. I give lots of advice, but most of the time it's unsolicited and people ignore it. I'm not really sure what to do when advice is actually solicted – that's so rare……hmmmm

    Well, I give the publishing industry a hard time, but to have the tables turned and asked what will work…….Um………………………

    I'll have to think about that. I'm glad I have the weekend to mull that one over.

    So, I'll be back to give some (solicted!) pearls of wisdom.

    However, I do have one immediate piece of advice. All the people here who are advising you to blog less are forgetting one very important thing – which is what is best for me. Having you post daily is definitely best for me – I would miss your posts terribly. So, I think it's best we look for another solution and you continue to post daily.

    Okay, hopefully that laid that possible disaster to rest.

    Have a nice weekend, I'll be thinking about what (solicited!) advice to give

  56. Shawn Smucker on April 9, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    >How do I find good clients?

    -Maybe your current clients have come out of writer's groups with other talented writers (no, I don't know any of your clients so I'm not fishing for an in!)

    How do I deal with the ever-increasing volume of queries?

    -Maybe you should have 4-5 readers that you trust form a layer to at least protect you from reading complete crap. If they read something at least half-decent then they pass it on to you.

  57. Jen on April 9, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    >Well, I'm not Dave Ramsey (but I do work for him–does that count?), but I love the suggestion of guest bloggers. These make for interesting insights into the publishing industry from a different perspective. How about offering to critique 250 words or 500 words once a week? I've seen some other publishing/writer blogs that do that, and it really helps me to see what agents and editors are searching for. I also love seeing critiques of query letters or synopses.

  58. Laura Marcella on April 9, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    >Tthink about having guest bloggers a couple times a week. You'll be doing them a favor and giving yourself time to replenish your mind.

    Have a restful weekend, Rachelle!

  59. Patti Struble on April 9, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    >Dear All out of Wisdom,

    As a literary agent, you and Cinderella are kindred spirits. You scrub the floors, polish the silver, get the door, and clean the soot out of the grate. What emerges are grateful clients, saleable manuscripts, the right editor/publisher, and good contracts. I'd say your doing just fine on that count; at least from what I can tell sitting in my armchair – I mean office.

    The publishing industry is akin to the flu virus; every time you think you have it licked, it mutates. Although I don't recommend licking either the industry or the virus. Roll with it, understand it for the evolving empire it is, and take solace in the fact that tomorrow will be different yet again.

    I don't believe the blog could be any better than it is. Giving your audience what they need, when they need it is your stock in trade and at this you excel. However, I think the other gurus have a point. Recycling – good. Wracking your brain before the light of day – hurt.

    Finding good clients is probably the same as trying to catch raindrops not infused with acid rain. A rain barrel might not be a bad idea; if they float, they're in. Hey, if they're willing to dog paddle until you get to them, then you may have something. It doesn't rain every day, you know.

    Queries, queries, everywhere. Awesome Agent met a writer going to the fare.
    Said Awesome Agent to the writer, "Let me test your wares.
    But first, an introduction, a hook, and some pages."
    AA read and was impressed, but alas the writer's work was poorly dressed.
    Said AA to the writer, "Do your homework first. Study your craft, your voice, and the rest. Deliver me your best.
    I have rules, I have requests."

    Weed them ruthlessly, xeriscape if you must. Even dandelions make good wine.

    On a side note, bless you for all that you do and all that you attempt. Without you we would linger in writer's purgatory with Dante – and he is NO fun!


    Making it up as I go

  60. Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God on April 9, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    >Dear Rachelle,

    I have three pieces of advice for you:
    1. Have your doctor give you a general wellness check-up. Prologed tiredness sometimes has a physical foundation. Maybe your iron levels are low or a low blood sugar condition exists.
    2. Read Mother Nurture by Rick and Jan Hanson and Ricki Pollycove. My extremely tired daughter recommends this book because it offers practical advice to mothers on so many levels. With the premise that a mother can't nurture her family when her reserves are empty, the authors focus on mothers with children under six years of age, but the information is useful to all mothers.
    3. Try something new. Let something drop off your list of priorities – even if temporarily – and do something you always wanted to try. Remember what it feels like to be a beginner and discover something totally unexpected.

    Be blessed,


  61. Timothy Fish on April 9, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    >I think it would be dumb for a publisher to sign an author without including e-book rights. After the publisher spends several thousand bringing the book to print, including editing, cover design, etc. to allow the author to just copy that work and sell the book in another format with the publisher receiving nothing just doesn't make sense.

  62. Rachelle on April 9, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    >Kait: Currently, refusal to give publishers e-book rights = no deal.

  63. Kat Harris on April 9, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    >Dear All Out of Wisdom,




  64. Kait Nolan on April 9, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    >Okay I don't know that this is advice exactly, but it's something I'd like to hear an agent's take on. With the ebook industry changing publishing (whether publishing wants to be changed or not), and with the advent of places like Amazon and Smashwords and the ability for an author to deal directly with distributors and obtaining a higher percentage of royalties for their digital content than they would if they went through the traditional publisher route (where they would receive at most a pittance and where the publishers choose to charge exorbitant prices that discourage rather than encourage sales–see JA Konrath's numbers in support of all that), it seems positively FOOLISH for an author to give up their e-rights to publishers (mostly because publishers are being ostriches and sticking their collective heads in the sand about reality). I know that I as an aspiring author still want to be traditionally published, but I do NOT want to give up my e-rights. Clearly publishers would not be cool with that because they perceive that as lost sales. So how would you as an agent navigate this slippery slope? How would you advise authors you represent who want to keep their e-rights when the publishers aren't likely to agree? Would you even be in a position to negotiate with publishing houses about this or are they mostly a "take the offer or leave it" kind of bunch?

  65. J. Andersen on April 9, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    >My advice is this: Be sure you're taking a weekly Sabbath. No matter how much work you have or how behind you are, you need time to renew and refresh with God.

    I'm always amazed that if we do this, all the other things that need to get done, find a way of getting done.

  66. Heidi Bylsma on April 9, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    >Just keep listening to and following the voice in the whisper. It may not come in the earthquake or the fire or the big displays of "WOW-ness," but the whisper is there. 🙂

  67. Beth on April 9, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    >Best advice? Take a vacation on a desert island with sun, wind, and sea. No internet or cell phone service allowed. (Next best location is my mom's farm, where I go. No internet available and cell phones don't function well there either. Beautiful and restful with friendly barn cats in attendance.) If time is of the essence, have a spa day and let some one take care of you for awhile.

  68. Cynthia Reese on April 9, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    >It must be something to do with spring. The other night I woke in the wee hours of the morning, with a lot of "shoulds" running through my head.

    So I figured, "I'll write down the shoulds, and I'll be able to sleep."

    I got to 122 "I shoulds" before I stopped the madness.

    Honestly, sometimes looking at your expectations in the hard cold light will let you know that you are expecting an insane amount out of yourself.

    Perhaps agents should follow the blogger "Miss Snark's First Victim's plan": she only opens query windows for a limited amount of time to a limited amount of queries. Yeah, you might miss the next Twilight, but you'd have your sanity.

    After all, the NFL doesn't draft every college athlete year round. They concentrate on the players they have and the games they face the rest of the year.

  69. nightwriter on April 9, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    >Why don't you use your blog to help YOURSELF, not just writers, at least once a week? And the posts don't have to be quite as long. e.g. Donald Maass posts "What we're looking for this month" and Jennifer lists her query stats.

    Give us updates on your progress,
    tell us what type of queries you want/don't want–are you getting a deluge of YA when you want non-fiction? (etc) Re-run or revise some old favorites and don't mention it…

    Last but not least: Work at home more often–or is that more distracting than Starbucks? LOL
    Good luck!

  70. MJR on April 9, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    >Your blog is wonderful and I wouldn't make any changes-I appreciate it so much. But I know how much work goes into it. If you need a day off (other than a holiday), take one (without a guest blogger–that takes work, too) and run an old post.

    Does Denver still have the publishing course? You might want to get a summer intern–at least to weed through all the queries.

    When I worked in publishing, I kept a file of various canned responses to things–I imagine you do, too, but if you feel as if you're writing the same thing over and over, save it in a file so you can use again.

    People in publishing are getting hysterical, but I imagine the changes in the end won't be as radical as people think.

    Remind yourself every week why you love publishing and books by going to a bookstore and buying a good book.

    Call authors every now and then to chat on the phone. I think it helps to talk to someone once in a while and not only rely on email.

    Pat yourself on the back. You're making sales (sometimes I wonder if the other agents are because they seem awfully quiet about this lately).

    That's all I can think of right now!

  71. Roxane B. Salonen on April 9, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    >You're so funny, Rachelle. Love the image you've chosen this morning to show your exasperation. I don't know. I'm so tempted to say "keep doing what you're doing" but you said not to. However, that's what I was thinking. I do love the posts when you reach into the writer's mind and offer a little sympathy for what we endure. Keep throwing those out every once in a while to keep us heartened. We need as much encouragement as possible. You do this well though, but…just wanted you to know it means a lot and to keep doing it. We sometimes get bogged down with all the things we're supposed to be doing. Sometimes we just need a pat on the back for trying. 🙂 And to be reminded not to lose sight of the joy in the journey. Oh, and by the way, don't lose sight of it yourself. A good night's rest will help. (Is that advicey enough? I feel like your mother now…)

  72. FeliceGerwitz: Author, Speaker, Consultant on April 9, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    >Start a radio show.

    Okay, before you balk, here is why.

    It is a quick way to answer questions in "real" time with an interactive audience for one hour per week. You are such an expert most of this will be off the top of your head, and the prep time is minimal. You can do this one time per week or one time per month. I use Blog Talk Radio, but there are many venues.

    I host a radio show for authors and my prep time is maybe 10 min. per week, other than the one hour I am actually on the show. The radio show has cut my work load in half.

    I love the show, because I can answer email questions on the air, and direct people to the radio show for specific answers already covered, and educate the audience about changes in the publishing world, and best of all host guests who are knowledgeable. (BTW I would love to have you as a guest!) The focus of my show is education for authors.

    The following elements also work for me…

    1. My blog is a "journal" not daily posts and I keep them short

    2. I use guest bloggers as much as possible that know the writing and publishing industry

    3. I host webinars that educate

    As an education major, my focus and love is helping other authors learn. I am still learning after many years. Yours is one of the few agent blogs I read.

    When asked the question, "How do you do it all?" my answer use to be…"I do it *all* but none of it well." I decided it was better not to do it all, and pick and chose what fits my schedule and teaching style. Consulting, radio shows, occasional blogging, and webinars cover all the bases without bogging me down.

  73. Charity Bradford on April 9, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    >I like the cloning idea from above. My best advice would be to enjoy your weekend so you can keep being the amazing you during the week. 🙂 Turn everything "agent" related off and enjoy friends, family and spring weather. (I hope you have some lovely weather where you are. If not join me in the South, it is perfectly distracting here!)

  74. LurkerMonkey on April 9, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    >I can sympathize … sometimes I feel like I LIVE at work. Oh wait. I do. So here's my worth-every-penny-you-paid-for-it advice: unplug and take time for yourself. We'll all still be here when you get back.

  75. Kathy on April 9, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    >I know setting limits means you risk missing the next best-seller, but we all have to learn when our plate is actually full.

    I think the short break you took a few months ago to "catch up" was wise. Anyone who seriously wanted to query you would wait.

    And I think blogging less frequently is smart, too. That would give you a few hours for something else. Besides, how do you wade through all these comments????!

  76. vmichelle on April 9, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    >I like playing "Dear Abby". If I were you I'd ask myself two questions:
    1. Out of everything I'm doing, what do I LOVE, what makes me feel great, excited, hyped?
    2. Out of everything I'm doing, what feels like a waste of my time?

    Then I'd try to find a way to do less of #2- it might be hiring a housekeeper or assistant or personal chef or accountant to do those things that don't light your fire.

    And I'd schedule in high priority time for myself to do more of #1 and let other things drop.

    And last thing – I'd ease up on myself and take things slower until I got my steam back. (Which is what I'm doing this April!)

  77. Cheryl Barker on April 9, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    >If you're feeling tired and like there's always too much to do, I agree with another commenter who suggested reducing your posts to just 2-3 times a week.

    We don't have to have something to read here every day. If you continue posting such helpful insight and advice, we'll come read it even if it's just once a week. If you need to cut back, we'll all understand.

    Have a good — and restful — weekend!

  78. Betsy Lerner on April 9, 2010 at 7:57 AM

    >Oh Rachel, why don't you ask the meaning to life! I ask myself all of this every day. And then I go to a movie.
    p.s. I love that picture

  79. Care on April 9, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    >Dear Tired One,
    Is it possible to divide the work year into fourths and follow the sway and mood of each of the seasons?

    You could consider creating for yourself a new summer schedule, that is much liken to the old store front window signs of 'gone fishin'

    Do all of your Top Priorities and Must Do's early in the day. Then at the best part of mid day, hang whatever your sign is up and go!

    Trust that those who care about you will smile.

  80. Sarahsalt on April 9, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    >Rachelle- It seems to me that you have that blessing we all long for–a job that is a calling. Which, of course, doesn't mean it's an easy job or one that's always fun. The best I can do for wisdom is turn to Paul and his first letter to the Thessalonians (5:12-24):

    "Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

    Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

    Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

    May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."

  81. Author Sandra D. Bricker on April 9, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    >Dear All Out:

    Sometimes life is like a BlackBerry. You have to shut it down and reboot every now and then for optimum performance. Step back and take a good hard look at everything you're doing, and purge those things from your daily routine that are counter-productive to your goal.

    Serving authors better: Strike a balance by grading on a curve. Focus first on the ones you've already signed, then filter in the ones you're considering, and don't spread yourself too thin.

    Dealing with the volume of queries: I would suggest an intern or two that you train in depth so that they know YOUR ways and are able to take them on. Then set them up to take the first shift on incoming queries and submissions. Like the guard at the gate of a celebrity's house. No one gets in to the party until they first pass through the gate.

    The blog: Don't change a thing. It's sort of your "ministry" to the masses, and I think unpubs and pubs both benefit in really valuable ways.

    I hope this helps, All Out. Take some deep breaths and remember one thing above all else: Balance is our friend.

    Happy to design for House of Rachelle

  82. Heather Marsten on April 9, 2010 at 7:21 AM

    >Dear Rachelle I cannot even imagine how you can keep up with all that you currently do, let alone taking on more stuff. What I am going to suggest may not seem logical to the carnal mind, but it is important. Take time for yourself and God – don't be a Martha, be a Mary at times. That rest and refreshment will do more to help you prioritize. Pray and ask God's guidance.

    I do think things are changing dramatically in this electronic age. You have a good presence online and that is going to help you network in productive ways and conquer these new fields. I enjoy your blog and have learned a lot that will help me in the future.

    You have it right about education. As you educate the authors-to-be, you ultimately are making your job easier. As an author-to-be I avidly listen to your advice and am working at producing quality. What I think would be the most difficult is having to choose between two equally good submissions. Rejecting the chaff is easy, but choosing between the gold, silver and precious metals would be the hardest. You have a sweet spirit and I think that rejecting anything with quality must be difficult for you.

    You are a blessing to authors and authors-to-be. Please do not let yourself get burnt out.

  83. Lisa Jordan on April 9, 2010 at 6:50 AM

    >Dear All Out of Wisdom,

    Cut yourself some slack. You're doing a great job! Everyone gets tired and giving yourself downtime helps ease the fatigue. The industry is changing. Perhaps the best way to deal with it is to stay informed of the changes and accept change is inevitable. It's going to happen with or without you stressing about it.

    Making your blog better is tough because it's already one of the best writing blogs out there. You're very generous with your time and talents. Consider collaborating with your colleagues and have a WordServe Literary blog to alleviate some of the blogging stress. If that is not an option, consider blogging three days a week and fill in those other two days with blog posts from your clients. It gives you a rest and increases their name to your audience.

    Finding good clients is like shopping for quality shoes or the perfect purse–sometimes they pinch your toes, but other times you find a great fit on the first try. Perhaps you could limit query submissions to accepting them two or three weeks out of the month and closing off the last week of the month to wade through all of them. Consider stating you won't be accepting new clients for the next three or six months so you can focus on your overly full inbox and current client list. Speak with other professionals in the industry and ask their suggestions.


    Advice Giving Guru…or not?

  84. Krista Phillips on April 9, 2010 at 6:39 AM

    >I think we ALL get overwhelmed with our day jobs from time to time. The first thing I do is prioritize, but I'm sure you already do that. Then I make sure the things I am doing, I'm doing as efficiently as possible. Sometimes taking a few days just to track how much time something is taking me and brainstorm ways to do it more quickly without lessening quality is so very helpful.

    I agree with the people who said delegate, but not everyone can do that (i.e. have someone to delegate TO!) I did agree with the person who suggested to lessen # of blog posts.. maybe do a MWF thing. I appreciate every single one you do, but I know for me, I went down to 3 then now 2 and it relieved a ton of stress and freed up more time. It was amazing the difference!

    Oh, and of course, you can always read my MS and be wowed by it and sell it to some editor and make millions off of it so you can hire a whole staff to work for you… (HA HA HA! Just kidding of course:-))

  85. Simon C. Larter on April 9, 2010 at 6:24 AM

    >Have your agent friends guest post for you on topics like the Top Ten Things To Do at the Wichita Book Fair, Getting Publishers To Pay Your Lunch Check By Walking Out When You Said You Were Going To The Bathroom, Best Post-Contract Cocktails, and things like that.

    Well, perhaps they could post on other helpful things. Either way, guest posts may give you the break you need. I'd do one, but I don't know what the best post-contract cocktail is yet.

  86. Katy McKenna on April 9, 2010 at 6:22 AM

    >Two words: Your kids.

    Unless the tax laws have changed a lot since we started working from the home 12 years ago (when our kids were more the ages of yours…), you might be able to get some workplace relief while they get a few bucks credited to their own Roths at a great age.

    Could be one of them is a brilliant query screener-in-training! Or could provide any number of services to your home-based business, freeing up more time for you to do the things at the top of your list. Of course, you'd have to double and triple-check their work at first, as with any new employee/intern. But who knows what talent you might uncover under your own roof?

    Seriously, we did employ one of our sons on a freelance basis, as the needs arose. Kept the company's money in the family, and can't have been too bad for him in the long run. He went on to be key designer and co-founder of AlamoFire, creators of facebook game Packrat and now iPhone app Gowalla. 🙂

    That's my advice for an early Friday morning. Will need a second cup of coffee to dream up more…

  87. Denise Nielsen on April 9, 2010 at 6:17 AM

    >I was feeling tired and slightly burned out last week, overwhelmed by a combination of writing, a full-time job, a family and farm, and social activities (both online and off).

    I took two days to unplug – that meant no Twitter (and the wonderful links I find there), no blogging, no reading blogs, and – hardest of all – no writing.

    There is so much great info out there to share and be shared, but having time away allowed me to refocus and reprioritize. I came back refreshed and rejuvenated, and am planning an unplug day weekly now.

  88. Matthew Rush on April 9, 2010 at 6:06 AM

    >Morning Rachelle, thanks for sharing.

    I think Lydia makes a great point because people (agents) like you, Nathan Bransford, and Colleen Lindsay (among others) are so amazing and free with your knowledge and advice its a wonder that you have time for anything else. Please know that we all appreciate you and figure your karma bank is probably over-flowing.

    In the meantime novice writers can find some good advice via example at my blog this morning.

    Shameless promotion:

    I have an awesome guest post today on my blog by Cole Gibsen.

    This one is pure query/submission gold folks in which she shares the ACTUAL query that landed her an agent and the correspondence that ensued.

    Please stop by to read, comment and follow.


  89. lexcade on April 9, 2010 at 6:04 AM

    >one word: minions. kinda like interns, but indefinite.

  90. Lydia Sharp on April 9, 2010 at 5:24 AM

    >Have you considered cloning yourself? 😉

  91. catdownunder on April 9, 2010 at 4:52 AM

    >Okay, advice from a cat…tuna, a good brushing from a human, a good nap in a comfortable spot. When you have done that you sort out all the cat hairs and arrange them neatly into bundles of the same type – er, the recurring problems, they do exist? Then you send the inquirer along to the previous inquirer. No? Oh, I see privacy. Right. Well then refer them to the previous post where you have already dealt with the question? If that does not work, tell them that research skills are essential for writers and that they will find the answer in some other blog.
    It will do you out of a job? No, I don't think so.
    If none of that works prowl over and visit me and I will share my tuna with you. It's all I can think of but then I am only a cat.

  92. Creepy Query Girl on April 9, 2010 at 4:30 AM

    >Dear All Out of Wisdom,

    First of all, I think the only thing you can do about the changing publishing industry is to deal with it. Trust me when I say that you are ahead of the game, having an online presence and a relationship with technology. Many agents in the U.S. are comfortably stuck in the dark ages and don't even get me started on the UK. Secondly, I always wonder at agents who are behind by six months on their queries. (not that you are) But how is it that some are so behind while others (just as well known and active) are on the ball? Do you have an assistant or intern who you can delegate some of the work load to or at least screen the queries and eliminate ones that aren't really meant for you? (genre, wrong name, or a million names in the forwarding box) In order to find good clients, I would reflect on the above. If queries could get through a screening process before you see them, are your genre, and your minions have forwarded them on, than hopefully a good client or two should be among them. If you already do have help from interns or assistants and you've still got to much on your plate….Uh, call in sick?:)

  93. Discount coupons on April 9, 2010 at 4:17 AM

    >Just reduce the volume of queries and concentrate on Try to concentrate on the work you have to do.

  94. Aimee LS on April 9, 2010 at 3:42 AM

    >I was going to make 'comments', but I'll just say this: I think the only writers you should really LISTEN to are those that have already had success. Those of us who are waiting for that moment need to learn. Not teach.

  95. Anonymous on April 9, 2010 at 2:24 AM

    >Rachelle, you're so cute! How about taking a break from Twitter? I realize it's like the "office water cooler" but it can be a big waste of time & energy coming up with snappy succint tweets. They can snowball out of control!

    Also you can reduce your blog to 2-3 posts a week or use more guest bloggers. But we'd miss you!

  96. Holly Rutchik on April 9, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    >pick someone – anyone of the "wanna be" status and take them through every step of the game – until they have something wonderful to publish that will sell – I think you can do it, and everyone would learn so much!

    What? TOOO MUCH 🙂 hehe, sorry it's late, I couldn't help it!

  97. Barbara on April 9, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    >Get a few guest bloggers and take some time out. Do not give away your time as freely as before: Try to concentrate on the work you have to do and reserve a few hours per week on "charity" (or whatever you call it). Try to make "office time" for advice and such and put it into your schedule – and stick to the allotted time slot. You are doing a great job. But that does not mean you have to work so hard at the "extras" you are wearing yourself out. All the best, Barbara

  98. Katherine Hyde on April 9, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    >To reduce the volume of queries: Come up with a special code word, revealed in your online submission guidelines, that must be included in a subject line in order for queries to reach your inbox. That will eliminate all the people who don't do their homework so you can focus on those who do.

  99. arlee bird on April 9, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    >Let me think about it when this Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is over. Right now I'm too tired also. I've got too many blogs to read and comment on and there's not enough time in the day. But I am loving it.
    Arlee Bird
    Blogging From A to Z April Challenge