Agent Interview: Evan Marshall, The Evan Marshall Agency
Evan Marshall owner of The Evan Marshall Agency reveals his pet peeves, thoughts on electronic readers and self publishing and a word of advice to new writers in this interview.
MP: I know that you don't like receiving novels that have a hero named Evan or manuscript submissions on pink perfumed paper. Can you share your top five pet peeves regarding manuscript submissions?
1. When it’s a type of book I don’t handle, like a children’s book or even nonfiction. Writers must to their homework when approaching agents, or they’re wasting everyone’s time, including their own.
2. When the cover letter tries to educate me about what the public wants, and why this book fits the bill. I hope that as an agent I have a pretty good idea of what the public wants. Let the book speak for itself.
3. When the cover letter says the book is designed for fast, easy reading or is “dumbed down."
4. When a manuscript reads more like an extended synopsis—showing rather than telling.
5. When a manuscript starts with tons of backstory and explanation, instead of launching right into the action.
MP: How do you feel the recent explosion of self publishing has impacted the industry?
EM: Self-publishing is an exciting development for writers, but many self-published books are of inferior quality and sell poorly. Every so often a self-published book is extremely successful and a traditional publisher picks it up. I would say this is the main impact of self-publishing: that these “gems” are given a test run that proves their appeal.
MP: Do you think electronic readers such as Kindle will increase the demand for books?
EM: Yes, I do. I know a number of people who now read more on their electronic readers than they did with traditional printed books. Anything that pulls in more readers is a good thing.
MP: Are there specific writer's conferences that you normally attend? Do you still do sessions on The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing at conferences?
EM: I don’t attend as many writers conferences as I used to, since my client list is very full and time is at a premium. But I sometimes attend the conferences of Romance Writers of America and Romantic Times BOOKreviews (as you can see, I handle a lot of romance!). I haven’t done sessions on The Marshall Plan® in a while, but I receive a lot of requests and may start again soon.
MP: When you're looking at taking on a new client is their writing the only important thing or does their ability and willingness to market themselves play a role as well?
EM: Yes, a savvy, aggressive promoter is quite attractive to me—and to publishers. Many writers have reached success largely through their own marketing efforts.
MP: What's your best piece of advice for a new writer?
EM: Target one genre of book—the one you most like to read—and read heavily and constantly in it to see what other writers are doing and to think up ideas that haven’t been done. Focus all of your efforts on selling in this genre. Don’t jump around.
If you'd like to learn more about Evan Marshall's Template Generator or his views from an authors stand point take a look at these articles:
I'm a freelance writer from Missouri. When I say it out loud I always feel like I should be at an AA meeting. Announcing that you are a writer to the public at large can provoke varying reactions. It is met with either enthusiasm or complete indifference. A few people will even act as if it might be catching, like the Avian flu.
The decision to become a freelancer didn't come easy. Giving up the security of a 9-5 job is a big decision for anyone. Giving up office politics and pantyhose was simple. I did find that being a writer isn't all cream cheese Danish and bunny slippers. It requires a strong sense of discipline. You have to set your hours, stick to a schedule and make others respect it. You also have to stay away form the Oreo's and morning talk shows.