Two Conversations

Any of you who write a blog, or participate in blogs like this one, know that it feels like an ongoing conversation. I’m having this conversation with all of you; you’re talking to one another as well. It’s pretty cool the way we’re all sort of hanging out talking to one another every day.

I have another ongoing conversation here at my computer… the one in my query box. This one’s not quite so interactive. People send me queries and I respond. Only in a few cases does the conversation go further than that. Still, it’s a daily interaction for me, responding to queries.

What feels sort of surreal is the difference between these two conversations. There’s a bit of overlap – many of you who read my blog also have submitted queries. But for the most part, it feels like these are two distinct conversations, and never the twain shall meet.

Here on the blog, y’all are like, “Okay Rachelle, we get it, we hear you, we know everything there is to know about querying and publishing and how not to annoy an agent, and we will try our best to do this right.”

Over there in the query box, the general tone is more like, “Hey Ms. Agent, whoever you are, I don’t know you, never seen your website, don’t have a clue that you write a blog, don’t know what you represent, but HERE’S MY BOOK.”

So. To all of you reading this… thanks for being in the conversation! I realize that most of what I say here is pretty much preaching to the choir because the fact that you’re here means you already know a lot, and you’re working hard to learn even more. I appreciate it!

Don’t be scared by all the warnings I give about how NOT to come across like a hopeless ignoramus in your correspondence with publishing professionals. You’re not going to do that, because you’re here.

Bottom line, the people who most need to read agent blogs are probably not reading them. But we persist in writing them, because maybe, just maybe, those writers who really need to read this will one day find their way here… and then they’ll be one of YOU.

And not to get all sappy or anything, but I really do enjoy this conversation with you. Thanks!
Rachelle Gardner, Christian Literary Agent, Colorado

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. deb on July 1, 2009 at 6:40 AM

    >I am new to blogging, bookmarking , writing, but know I will be a regular here. Thank you for such a relaxed, informative, and inspiring site! Perhaps my words will come together in a book, or not, but having a resource such as this is such a blessing, and I'm guessing from all the comments that everyone else thinks you're pretty amazing too!

  2. Pam Elmore on June 25, 2009 at 10:40 PM

    >I'm reading, Rachelle, and trying to take in all your advice. Thank you for your generosity in giving it!

  3. Genny on June 18, 2009 at 9:30 PM


    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. I don't comment all the time, but I read every post, and I truly appreciate all the information you share!

  4. Susanne Scheppmann on June 18, 2009 at 7:06 PM

    >Rachelle, you are my favorite blogger hands down. In throes of being a writer, I need a good laugh at myself. We writers are curious people, aren't we?

  5. Jane Steen on June 18, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    >Blogs by agents, editors, and others whose jobs exist because we'd all like to get published, make some of the most informative reading around. Not least because they're well written. I'm probably years from sending my first query, but by the time I do I'll understand a lot more about the book industry. Thanks, Rachelle, for taking the time to write.

  6. Sharon M. Smith on June 18, 2009 at 4:06 PM

    >I read your blog and you have helped me immensely! Thanks for keeping up with the conversation!

  7. Miss Mabel on June 18, 2009 at 1:11 AM

    >Agent blogs are EXTREMELY helpful. Thanks!

  8. Nicole O'Dell on June 17, 2009 at 11:06 PM

    >Hey there!

    I read your blog constantly AND I haven't sent even one little query to your inbox, yet. That may change one day; you never know. Hopefully I'll have you all figured out by then. πŸ™‚

  9. Freya on June 17, 2009 at 10:49 PM

    >Hey Rachelle

    Have started following your blog recently and I really like what you share.
    Hope to read more here πŸ™‚

    Manager –

  10. Matilda McCloud on June 17, 2009 at 9:16 PM

    >Thanks for your blog. I look to forward reading it with my morning coffee at work, which is pretty amazing as I'm on Eastern Time…you must be up early.

    It may feel as if you are preaching to the choir, but I imagine you have a lot of readers who are soaking up the information, but aren't leaving comments yet.

  11. H. Scott Hunt on June 17, 2009 at 8:59 PM

    >Yeah, what they said. Your blog is a daily must read. Thanks for your efforts.

    BTW Did you actually know how to spell ignoramus? I mean, I really like that word. I've actually used it before, interchanging it with doofus (did I spell that right?), but I don't recall writing it out. Did you have to break out the dictionary? I love dictionaries.

  12. Shelly W on June 17, 2009 at 8:41 PM

    >I tend to think of this publishing world as a bit of a "closed" society. One that is just for "them" and definitely not for me. But your blog has helped me see that the door could open for me . . . someday. The advice you give each day is invaluable. Thank you.

  13. Paul West on June 17, 2009 at 5:38 PM

    >I have to admit I just recently found your blog, though I've been following you on Twitter for a while. I hope when you read my query I recently sent you that you will realize that I'm one of those who is having this "conversation" with you.

  14. Marie Devers on June 17, 2009 at 5:06 PM

    >I love our conversations!

    Really, I look forward to hearing what everyone says each day.

    Just wondering, who is there more of, us or them?

  15. Sharon A. Lavy on June 17, 2009 at 5:04 PM

    >Thank you.

  16. Karin on June 17, 2009 at 4:49 PM

    >Thanks for the post. Between today's and yesterday's I actually feel quite encouraged πŸ™‚ I'm doing some things right – woo hoo!

  17. Jennifer AlLee on June 17, 2009 at 4:11 PM

    >I'm like the gal at a party who sits slightly off to the side, nodding her head and laughing at the jokes. I don't say much, but I take it all in.

    So, even though I don't say much, I read every post. I absorb all the information. And I quietly wait to make my move… Thanks for all the great info and for the laughs. Your blog is one of my "must reads"s.

  18. Merrie Destefano on June 17, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    >Thanks, Rachelle!

    I always feel like such a lurker here–I don't like to take up too much of your time, since I already have an agent. But I do really appreciate the community you have built here and the fact that I feel part of it.

    Albeit an invisible participant.

  19. T.L. Byford on June 17, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    >A sincere "Thank You", Rachelle. Your blog is wealth of information and motivation. We hear you and appreciate all your efforts.

    Thanks again.

  20. Julie Gillies on June 17, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    >Awww. Thank you, Rachelle. Those sorta sappy feelings are mutual! πŸ™‚

    I value your wisdom more than you know. But more than that, I appreciate your heart to help writers. Thanks for all you do.

  21. Carrie Turansky on June 17, 2009 at 2:13 PM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    Though I don't comment often, I enjoy reading your blog almost every day. It pops up number one on my favorites list. When I'm read to take a break from writing and check blogs, I find myself thinking, "I wonder what Rachelle has to say today."

    Thanks for sharing your insights! You always give me something interesting to think about!

  22. Aimless Writer on June 17, 2009 at 2:11 PM

    >There's a man in my critique group who I tell to read the agent blogs because of all the great information on them. He tells me he doesn't have the time. Sad.
    I read his synopsis…he really needs to read the blogs.

  23. Dawn on June 17, 2009 at 1:34 PM

    >I recommend your blog to other writers, including my critique partners, because not only do you provide awesome information – you're vulnerable enough to let us see that agents are people, too.
    And for many of us, that's a gift.


  24. Ever Changing on June 17, 2009 at 1:18 PM

    >Hey Rachelle,

    They do twain sometimes. I queried you, you eventually passed, I appreciated your advice and I have been reading your blog every since. That was about a year ago. I've grown and I really enjoy reading your blog and the comments.


  25. Glynis on June 17, 2009 at 12:55 PM

    >Nice chatting with you Rachelle and thanks for the compliment. I am still learning and need to be here, believe me when I say that. I know nothing of agents and publishers, which is why I chose to follow you. You write clearly and in a friendly manner, I always go away with the feeling I have learnt something from you.

  26. Melanie Avila on June 17, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    >I enjoy you!

    You don't represent what I write but I love the message you have here and the advice you give to writers. Keep it up!

  27. Jeanette Levellie on June 17, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    >You, sappy? God forbid! A person who finds a Starbucks and then jogs there each morning at a writers convention hasn't an ounce of sap! Grit, perhaps…

    Thanks for the encouragement, Rachelle,

  28. Kristen Torres-Toro on June 17, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    >I needed to read this today! Thank you! And thank you for all you do for us! I read this blog every day and it is something that I really enjoy!

  29. Kristen Torres-Toro on June 17, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    >I needed to read this today! Thank you! And thank you for all you do for us! I read this blog every day and it is something that I really enjoy!

  30. Kim Kasch on June 17, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    >We all LOVE the free advice and information. All the help you dole out does not go unnoticed. Probably one of the reasons why you're one of the ”101 best websites”

  31. Marla Taviano on June 17, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    >I like the conversation too. Your blog is a Happy Place. πŸ™‚

  32. Cheryl Barker on June 17, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    >Rachelle, it's nice to know you enjoy us, too — what a neat thought! Thanks for sharing.

  33. lynnrush on June 17, 2009 at 9:32 AM

    >Thanks, Rachelle. I was once the, "Hey Ms. Agent, whoever you are…." Ugh, how embarrassing. I sure learned whose advice to follow and whose not to follow…There are a handful of blogs that I tell other writers about. This is for sure one of them.

    Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

  34. Eric on June 17, 2009 at 9:28 AM

    >This is another great post. I do try to stop by and comment from time to time for a number of reasons. First off, I like to think you read through all of these and value the input. The egotistical part of me wants to believe I belong here, because I'm a writer dangit. Most important though, is the good feeling I get reading through your posts, commenting, and being a part of an industry/community I have come to thoroughly enjoy.

  35. Teri D. Smith on June 17, 2009 at 8:58 AM

    >You suggested at the ACFW conference that we read your blog, and I've been doing it ever since. Thanks for helping those of us who read to be informed and stay away from the ignoramus pile!

  36. Stina Lindenblatt on June 17, 2009 at 8:43 AM

    >I just love this blog even though I'll never query you (you don't rep my genre). The advice is invaluable . . . and free. Thanks for doing it. We're all smarter because of it.

  37. Rachel on June 17, 2009 at 8:33 AM

    >Thanks so much for being so consistent and faithful with this blog. I read it every single morning with my coffee, and it makes me feel like a real writer.

  38. Wendy on June 17, 2009 at 8:05 AM

    Thank you for this post. I know I don't always respond to your posts, but I'm reading them and learning and learning and learning. ~ Wendy

  39. Gwen on June 17, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    >I love your blog, Rachelle. Your advice taught me about 80% of what I know, for which I am very grateful. It's surprising that you seem to get as much out of it as we do.

    NOW, on to say that I'm still chuckling at "hopeless ignoramus". In all humor is a grain of truth; I think we can all relate to acting like a "hopeless ignoramus" in real life. I won't tell you my latest tale–let's just say it involves a brick wall and the side of my van. (heh)

  40. Chatty Kelly on June 17, 2009 at 8:00 AM

    >Thank you, in more ways than one.

  41. John M. UpChurch on June 17, 2009 at 7:58 AM

    >Perhaps in some ways it's good that many who do submit queries to you don't read the blog. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but the lack of research tells you pretty quickly how committed the person is to the craft and platform. Thus, it could help save you time in pulling out the tares.

    If everyone who submitted read your blog, you might end up with too much of a good thing for one agent to handle. And there are many on here who need you to still be open to new submissions πŸ™‚

    I do try to find the water in the empty well. In any case, thanks for all your thoughts and quips.

  42. Dee Yoder on June 17, 2009 at 7:39 AM

    >Your blog was the topic of much conversation with my group of writing buds yesterday. So much so, that when I left to grocery shop, I came home to 112 emails! (And of course, the conversation kept going.) So, yes! You do get your points across, and we listen, chew it over, and then come back for more. I sometimes shrink from the info, but forwarned is forarmed.

  43. Katy McKenna on June 17, 2009 at 7:39 AM

    >Really fascinating that the demographics of your blog readership and your query-box fillership are so dissimilar. I used to wonder if, my making yourself so personable and accessible here, you might be opening yourself up to more kooky queriers than you'd know what to do with.

    Instead—and this is fantastic!—you are actually educating an ever-growing number of writers on how to do things the right way, so that we can avoid the pitfalls of most queryers.

    Your blog is such a gift to us, but I'm happy to realize that it may be a gift to you, too. Every time another wannabe author is converted to this side, we all win! Thank you for all you do, Rachelle.

  44. jessjordan on June 17, 2009 at 7:33 AM

    >Awwww, thanks! You all provide such a wonderful opportunity to get to know agents better by maintaining these blogs. We, in return, get a leg up on the competition, simply by NOT doing things that make you want to pull your hair out. πŸ˜‰

  45. Krista Phillips on June 17, 2009 at 7:28 AM

    >I'm like Katie. I was once on the dark side but HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT! *grin* My first two submissions where horrible and absolutely embarressing. I still don't know what I was thinking. My third was much better but my manuscript wasn't ready like I thought it was. I feel like I'm finally growing up manuscript wise. I rewrote my first chapter that I've known, in my heart, wasn't acceptable. *sniffle* I lost a frog in the process, but he's in a better place now. (the frog was in my first chapter….)

  46. Marybeth Poppins on June 17, 2009 at 7:21 AM

    >That you for letting us join in the conversation! I love your blog and it has taught me so much. Your blog sets you apart from many other agents that do nothing more than list their names on agent listings. It's nice to get to know an agent and know what to say in the query letter. I find it difficult to take an agent that has absolutely no information about them out there and send a query letter because it seems impossible to connect to them. Thank you for making it easier to connect!

  47. Richard Mabry on June 17, 2009 at 7:06 AM

    >This blog is the first thing I check when I open my computer each morning–sort of like saying "Hi" to a friend as the work day starts. Thanks for letting us be a part of the conversation.

  48. Jason Crawford on June 17, 2009 at 7:01 AM

    >Sorry you have to put up with all that on the query side of things…but, please know that those of us who read your blog are so appreciative of the time and thought you obviously put into each post.

    Agent blogs aren't just informative, they also help to keep some of us going as writers.

  49. Katie on June 17, 2009 at 6:05 AM

    >Thanks for starting the conversation, Rachelle. They are always insightful. And just to give you some hope, sometimes the twains do meet. I queried once (not an agent, but a publisher) a long time ago when I was completely NOT ready (although, beng the naive little creature I was, I, of course, thought I was ready) and I didn't have a clue what I was doing. Pretty embarassed about it now. I have since moved over from the dark side! So there is hope! πŸ™‚

  50. GentleLavender on June 17, 2009 at 2:32 AM

    >Rachelle, it is such a pleasure to read your blog. Keep up the conversation with us and we love u even more.

  51. Bryan on June 17, 2009 at 1:17 AM

    >Thanks Rachelle. Although I don't comment much on here, I read your blog obsessively. You put so much time and effort into it and it is so helpful. I really appreciate your advice. Keep shoveling us those nuggets of wisdom.