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What Agents Want

Posted at 12:56PM Monday 28 Jan 2013

Yesterday I taught my first Guardian Masterclass of the year on how to pitch your book. The next is on 23rd February (click Guardian Masterclass for details). A question students always ask is: what exactly do agents want? It is easier to answer than you might think.

Of course everyone in publishing would say 'voice', by which they mean the character and personality of the writing. Agents want a voice that is unique, fresh and engaging. If you remain unclear what that means, the best way to understand is to read, read and read contemporary books. The narration – whether first or third person – will have a unique and distinct feel. From the opening paragraph it will engage you in a way that makes you want to read on and respond to the story and characters.

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