Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chasya's Questions Corner: On Fiction Credentials

by Chasya

One of our readers asks: “How important are previous publication credits to an agent? Do you prefer [to] receive queries from writers who were already published in a literary magazine/journal?”

Having really good literary credentials may get you noticed, but it’s not the only thing we’re looking for. As Michael pointed out in his post about queries, we’re looking for a great many other things. Among them a strong voice, an original idea, etc....

It certainly can’t hurt you to get your work placed in literary journals, but being published in one is by no means the deciding factor in who we choose to represent. We’re on the lookout for all sorts of fiction, and limiting queries to authors who have any specific type of credentials really restricts our ability to search for great projects in a broad range of categories.

We hope you’ll continue to send questions! Please send us an email at news@dystel.com.


  1. Ok, I hear that agents are looking for much more than previous credits, and as an unpublished author, this gives me real hope.

    However, (and I hope this isn't just subconscious bitterness)when agents and agencies post examples of successful query letters on their blogs and such, the query authors always cite numerous publications, awards, or decades of experience in some other-than-author role of the publishing industry.

    A search of query samples in the sites and blogs to the right will demonstrate that this is almost without exception.

    It'd cheer my cynical heart if you folks could post a few examples of successful queries from the truly new folks who were signed. NO awards, NO 22 years as a journalist for the Times, NO three prior books out by Bantam.

    It's important to earn your stripes, we all know that. But some solid examples of folks who got in with just one kick-ass book would quiet the nasty voices in my head shouting "Liars!" when I read posts like this.

  2. I just read in today's Publisher's Lunch that Harlequin is starting its own in-house self-publishing line called Harlequin Horizons. The article states that Harlequin will monitor the sales for possible pickup by a traditional house. What are people's thoughts on that?