Good Writing Advice: Submit Your Best

To paraphrase Pat Benatar, “Hit ‘Em With Your Best Plot.”

Today’s writing wisdom deals with the submissions process and comes from literary agent Marisa Corvisiero of the eponymous Corvisiero Literary Agency.

In a 2011 interview with Chiseled in Rock, when asked what essential advice she would give to authors seeking representation, Corvisiero said this:

“Do your research and always put your best foot forward. Learn about the industry, but don’t forget that in the end your writing speaks for itself.”

Itis important to make sure that any writing sent is as polished as possible: not just complete, but thoroughly revised and in a mature stage of development. Doing your homework– knowing who might be interested in your work, why the agent/agency would make a good match with it, their submission guidelines, etc.– is all important, but ultimately it is your writing that must withstand scrutiny and critical eyes. Corvisiero underlines the importance of this:

“Agents are incredibly busy and will unfortunately review your work looking for reasons not to represent you…So don’t give them any.”

The ships an aspiring author sets in water must be watertight.

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4 thoughts on “Good Writing Advice: Submit Your Best

  1. Can’t disagree about submitting your best possible work BUT what a lot of rubbish about agents being ‘incredibly busy’! Who wrote that? Oh, an agent. They’re no busier than you or me or anyone else. Many of them are probably incredibly lazy. Why would they look NOT to represent people? They make their money by representing people. You just need to give them a reason to take you on ahead of others.

    • Well, having recently read a book called ‘The Insider’s Guide to Getting An Agent,’ (written, again, by another literary agent), I feel I have a better understanding about the workload and immense slush piles agents must go through and can better appreciate the sentiment. Yes, there might be some great missed opportunities based on the weeding out agents do– in fact, the author said that she found her first fourteen clients in the slush pile of the agency she was learning at– but this kind of screening starts to seem necessary when one considers all the duties and reading an agent has on and off the clock.

      I suppose the thing to remember (which goes hand in hand with that succinct point you made about giving them a reason) is that agents can only support a finite number of clients!

      • Sure, but that quote implies that agents – all agents – are amazingly busy and productive. That they’re doing you a huge favour even finding time to look at your synopsis and first paragraph. Poor lambs. Let them change places with a road sweeper or a coal miner for a day.
        Not having a go at literary agents but they’re only a part of the industry and they rely on people like you, the author Julie, not the other way round 🙂

        • This is true– the agent’s salary comes from selling the author’s work!– though I think I see the agent-author relationship as more of a symbiosis. Assuming the author has the good fortune to land one 😉

          Thank you for your thoughtful response, Roy!

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