Agent Roundtable: a guest post by Paul Greci

A week ago I had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion with Kendra Markus of Bookstop Literary Agency. Kendra was in Fairbanks visiting her daughter and offered a free question and answer session to any and all writers.

Kendra contacted Alaskan author Deb Vanasse through SCBWI and Deb (who is one of my long distance critique partners) contacted me. For writers in Fairbanks this was quite a treat. We don’t get many literary agents just stopping by and holding free sessions.

Luckily for us, Kendra enjoys winter weather.

At the end of the session I offered Kendra a ride. She thanked me for the offer but said she wanted to walk the mile up to the University, where she was meeting her daughter. It was a windy day, about 8 above zero.

As for the discussion, I didn’t have to do much facilitating because the ten writers, some published some not, some agented some not, who materialized at the Coffee House were bursting with questions, and Kendra’s responses led to more questions. Kendra even did a first page critique for one writer.

Her love for picture books, middle grade and young adult literature was very apparent. And she knows the book business; she’s been an agent since 1984. If she’s not already on your agent list, check out her website and see what you think.

Here are a few thoughts from Kendra regarding submissions:

1. Make sure your story has layers of complexity. Too often I see stories that are just dealing with the surface. They don’t go deep enough.

2. Let the character drive the plot.

3. Pretend I’m a kid. You have to get my interest on the first page.

How do you know when your first page is doing its job? How do you know when you’ve gone deep enough in your story? How do you decide when your story is ready for submission? I’d love to hear your thoughts on any or all of these questions. Thanks!

Originally published at  Paul Greci lives in Fairbanks, where he taught English in an alternative school for fifteen years. He now writes young adult fiction and is represented by Jennifer DeChiara.  Anchorage-area writers take note:  Kendra Marcus is interested in doing a program in Anchorage next year.  Stay tuned for details.

2 thoughts on “Agent Roundtable: a guest post by Paul Greci”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    What a great opportunity that was for Fairbanksans. Thanks for the post, Paul, and thanks for setting up the agent chat, Deb.

    Now doesn't this make us all want to grab onto any and all agents/writers who happen to be passing through Alaska? It happens all the time, and some really good talent skips away untapped (except in this case). The key (prepare for the 49w mantra here) is to connect with each other and make opportunities happen. Use this blog! Alaska writers unite!

  2. Thanks, Andromeda. It's so true that we need to unite to make things happen. I was really happy when Deb contacted me. We had a great time with Kendra and I had a good time acting as the host. Thanks, Deb!!

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