The Luck of the Agent
Thank you for Michael Bourne’s article “Agents as Editors: Understanding the New Author-Agent Relationship” (July/August 2017). The piece highlights agents who work with fiction writers but did not give an example of the lucky matchmaking that occurs between agents and nonfiction writers. As a writer who is passionate about historical events that capture stories of lost individuals and generations, I was grateful to find agent Jake Elwell of Harold Ober Associates, who was equally passionate and has read every nonfiction book on the subject. He helped shape my manuscript, and I feel very lucky for our match.
New York, New York
Please make the agent spotlight (“We Mean Business: Twelve Agents Who Want to Read Your Work” by Kevin Larimer, July/August 2017) a regular thing. It’s the most valuable writers resource I’ve yet seen.
The Submission Trail
I enjoyed Joey Franklin’s “Submit That Manuscript! Why Sending Out Your Work Is So Important” (July/August 2017). The essay highlights many valid reasons to submit a manuscript and should be helpful to anyone feeling indecisive about the next deadline. I would add yet one more reason to keep submitting, even if you’re not sure if the piece is ready: Once you submit, your work has found a temporary home, and you can, without a guilty conscience, turn your attention elsewhere for a while—perhaps toward another project you are eager to work on, or devoting time to researching literary agents or sending out queries, or even taking an overdue vacation. I’ve opted for self-publishing, but before I did, submitting my work kept things moving forward. Through this curious and often frustrating process, I learned invaluable lessons that allowed me to grow as a writer, including the discipline of editing, patience, and the art of polishing my work at least “one more time.” We writers don’t know where the submission trail will lead, yet no matter where it begins or ends, everything we encounter along the way becomes part of the words, the pages, and the books that we will one day write.
D. A. (Daisy) Hickman
Brookings, South Dakota
A Writer’s Long Journey
I’m writing in response to “Rays of Hope,” a letter written by Everett Schell and featured in the July/August 2017 Letters section. Like Schell I am currently incarcerated, was gifted a Poets & Writers Magazine subscription by a generous individual (poet Mary Ruefle), and have thoroughly enjoyed every issue I’ve received. Though I had no writing or teaching experience prior to prison, I ended up teaching a creative writing course here. I view this particular prison as the world’s worst writers retreat, but in the long run, it’s what made me pick up a pen. It has been a long and arduous journey, from addict to bank robber to writer, and the journey still has some miles left. I’ve assembled a modest amount of publishing credits and acquired a few unlikely friendships with members of the literary community, including Donald Hall and Mary Ruefle. Great literature allows people to access corners of life they might be too timid to explore or lucky to have not personally visited. There are plenty of talented wordsmiths behind walls and locked doors. I love your magazine. Thanks for your time.
United States Penitentiary, Canaan
“Worth the Wait” (July/August 2017), Renee H. Shea’s profile of Arundhati Roy, included several references to Mahatma Gandhi; in one instance, Gandhi’s name was misspelled. We are humbled by the error.