Chip MacGregor

March 29, 2016

Coming in April: “Ask the Agent”


What is it you’ve always wanted to ask an agent? I mean, if you could sit down for a few minutes over a cup of coffee and ask a literary agent anything — about proposals, or writing, or marketing, or the process, or the economics of publishing, or anything else — what would you ask? 

Here’s your chance. Starting April 1st, we’re going to take a month and just focus on the questions writers have for literary agents. What do you want to know? What do you need clarified? What is it you’ve always wanted to ask (or ask again)? I’ll be taking a slug of questions each day and offering my best response.

So come join the conversation! Either go to the comments section below and drop in your question, or send me an email asking the question you’ve long wanted answered. I promise to try and get to all of them in the month of April. Looking forward to seeing what you send me.

Don’t just sit there — ASK!



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  • M. M. Splinter says:

    Thank you for allowing writers to ask these questions and taking the time to answer them.

    If you’re writing a series of three books, how do you find an agent and publisher that will take on all three if they only have the manuscript for the first one? I’ve read about authors who got a three book deal after the first manuscript was sent over and wondered how that works? Are there things they look for: outlines of the two remaining books, rough drafts, notes on where you’ll be going with the series?

  • PrincessCA says:

    Hi, I read your advice about becoming a proven author before getting an agent and trying to get in print by publishers who do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. So far, I entered a short story in a fiction writing contest at a university I attended and won first place along with it being published in the school’s literary journal. I also wrote a poem that was published in another college’s literary journal and another poem that hung in that college’s admissions office for a number of years. In addition, I did an internship editing technical documents at Citrix Systems Inc. I also wrote an Honors Thesis as required for graduation from an Honors in Psychology program I did at Florida Atlantic University. Would this be enough to be considered a proven author for finding an agent to publish a fictional novel?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I’m going to use this question next week, Princess, since I think there are others who will want to read the question and my response. Appreciate you sending this.

  • Emily Shore says:

    I’m curious when MacGregor will be accepting submissions in the future.
    Also would like to know what your perspective is on the rapidly changing market, especially for teenagers, as agents are pursuing more multi-cultural and extremely diverse books.
    What if an author has a great word-of-mouth network but still struggling with building a social media platform?

  • Writerdeeva says:

    When you write novels that don’t “fit” the marketplace…are you doomed? I have had a few agents that did not take me on because I wasn’t quite romance, and was “more” literary. “With the difficult publishing world,” they “don’t know where to put you.” NO! I am not writing anything groundbreaking or weird. I write in a category that has been long refreshed and that I feel is lacking in the marketplace: Literary Romance. Do you think the marketplace will turn their visions back to this category??? Most of the books classified in this category are 19th century gems that still remain popular today…and then there are the ones, like The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Outlander, that ignited the category. But so few modern novels have been so lucky. I think JoJoMyers might qualify for this category…but I am afraid that agents are not eager to dive into this category head strong. Do you see a resurgence at all? Your thoughts about literary romance???

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Ha! Yes, you’re doomed, Writerdeeva. But we’ll talk about it next week on the blog. Glad you brought it up.

  • Sarah says:

    I know you’ve talked before about the odds of getting published as a first time author, but I’m curious about the statistics. What percentage of unpublished authors land publishing contracts, and what’s the average amount they earn on a first book? Is there a website that lists this information?

  • Thank you for this opportunity, Chip! Am looking forward to seeing you in Chicago in May.

    What would it take for a book to transition from being self-published to being picked up by a traditional publisher? I lead an author success group in Milwaukee and I encounter good self-published books, sometimes whole series, with solid platforms in the 1000s to 10,000s, that with just a little more polish editorially could be very good. If the author wanted to shift focus away from self-publishing and go traditional, for whatever reason, what would you recommend? Should the author take it back to manuscript level and pitch it as fully revised edition, referencing the prior self-published edition’s platform? What about a self-published book that may be quite excellent, but the author didn’t do so great building their platform. Focus on platform first, before an editorial revision? Is there any hope to “rescue” such a book that appeared to have “failed” in the market? And are you seeing this happen more often, any new trend of self-published books and authors making that transition to the big leagues? I’ve seen this with nonfiction PhD authors as well as folk novelists–good solid platforms but could-be-much-better books, editorially. Or great self-published books with lousy or non-existent platforms.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Happy to explore this question, Laurel. I think it’s an important topic for writers to discuss. Thanks.

    • So sorry, I’ve been quite busy and may have missed it. Has this question come up and been addressed yet in a post? Thank you so much!

  • Lisa Godfrees says:

    What I’d like more than anything is to have an agent give me some feedback on my query letter. It would be nice to know if I’m barking up the wrong tree. I *think* it’s good, but I’m up to 8 rejection letters. It’s middle grade fiction so I don’t think you guys would be interested, but maybe you could tell me what you think.

    Another question – if your manuscript “isn’t the right fit” for the well-researched agents you query, should you move on to the next book or self-publish? How do you decide if your project is good enough to go out there if it doesn’t have a gatekeeper stamp of approval? We all know there are great self-pubbed books and ones that were published too soon. Tips and tricks to figure out which category you’re in.

  • Desiree says:

    I want to piggyback off Robin’s question. How important is it to have an agent?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      I feel as though I’ve answered this one numerous times on the blog, Desiree, but I’ll respond to it again.

  • Jim Wendorf says:

    Will agents help us to promote our books even after we have them published by a smaller Christian publishing company that doesn’t offer marketing?

  • Robin Patchen says:

    I’d love to hear you talk about how you feel the role of the agent will change as more authors move toward hybrid and indie publishing. I know you’re not afraid to encourage your authors to go the indie route if traditional slots aren’t open to them, but are publishers just as open to the idea of their authors doings some indie publishing?

  • A.E.Sawan says:


  • Nora says:

    So glad you’re doing this again. I’ll jump right in. I keep hearing about platforms for fiction writers. How do you suggest a unpublished Christian writer get started with platforms. I’m considering doing flash fiction on my author page. But, how do I get other writers to swap stories with me so we all get some good following on our websites/blogs? Also, how close to the genre of my novellas do I have to stay when I’m writing flash fiction? And, should that include what other writers share on my blog (as far as genre)?

    Well, you asked us to ask you. Have a lovely time.

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