How To Get A Literary Agent

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Two how-to posts right in a row? Look at me go!

A couple of weeks ago I took a class at iO called "How To Get a Literary Agent." I took it mostly because it was taught by Michael McCarthy and I'm a fan of his. He's worked at SNL and Sesame Street and has a pretty impressive writing resume so when he speaks, I listen.  And he's just a cool guy who knows his shit.

So here's what I took away from McCarthy's class. In order to get a literary agent you have to have an amazing portfolio- remember we're talking about agents for sitcoms and late night talk shows here. And to have a great portfolio you have to be a good writer. To be a good writer you have to do two things:
1. Write every day. 2. Read every day. It's that simple. Yet so important.

Mind blowing stuff, right? I'm sure you already know this. I've been told it a hundred times and yet I still refuse to do it. Until now. Until the year of 2015 when I am making everything in my life BETTER. At least until February. 

I used to be an avid reader. As I kid I read the entire Babysitters Club series in a month. I think we can all admit that's pretty impressive. But then I grew up and found social media. And instead of filling my brain with book knowledge, I've filled it with knowledge about what you did at the gym and who's child turned one and pretty photos of bloggers showing me their feet. And I hate myself for it.

If someone had a graph of how much time I spent on social media last year I wouldn't want to see it. Because I could have probably written five spec scripts, filled three notebooks with jokes, and finished two novels in the time I spent scrolling on Instagram. Ugh. But it's so fun.

I can't give up social media, it's my job. And I don't want to, I love that damn devil feed. But I am going to reduce the time I spend on it. (I bet I'm the first to ever say this.)  I've got a huge reading list for this year and a book I'm writing that I am going to finish. I AM GOING TO FINISH. I had to write that again because I've started and stopped at least ten novels. But this is the one... No matter how shitty that nasty voice in my head tells me it is, I'm finishing it damn it.

As for reading, over the weekend I started Virigina Woolf's To The Lighthouse because I thought it made me feel smart and pretentious and stuff. But after 30 pages of having no idea what was going on it just made me feel stupid so I said forget it. So now I'm on Z: The Story of Zelda Fitzgerald as per a recommendation from Bon. And I love it so far because I'm a little obsessed with this time in history when the literary celebrities were running around like rockstars jumping between Paris and New York. If you want all of Bon's recs, check out this post. It's been my go-to lately. I also like the list Stephen King created, 96 Books Aspiring Writers Should Read.

So let's recap. How to get a literary agent: get off Facebook and Instagram. Write and read every day.

You're welcome. Now let's all go get agents!

"I hope you live a life you're proud of." - F. Scott Fitzgerlad

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  1. Oof. Totally guilty of spending way too much time on social media. I'll change my ways!

  2. You know what was REALLY a wakeup call for me? On my fancy new iPhone (everyone's iPhone) .. Settings . General > Usage > Battery Usage. The phone TELLS YOU THE AMOUNT OF TIME (battery usage) YOU SPEND ON DIFFERENT APPS. Both in the past 24 hours and the last 7 days. Now there's a TERRIBLE metric. Guess what my first two were: FB and IG. And it took up OVER 50% OF MY BATTERY LIFE TODAY. I'm at work. It's a snowy day. I have no excuse. Terrible.

    I don't recommend checking yours. But yet I do.

    I'm with ya. Reducing social media time = Best original idea ever.

  3. This is funny because I have been arguing with myself about giving up FB for days now. I go back and forth on it, because it's such a terrific time filler when waiting on something or when you're just bored, but I also hate it because I'm finding everyone's posts really annoying lately for some reason. I really think I need a break, and imagine how much I could accomplish (and read!) if I don't have FB to fall back on! Of course, this doesn't mean I'll be giving up twitter and Insta too, because get real. ;)

  4. I loved Z! That era is so fascinating to me! Writing every day can be such a struggle, it's much harder than in middle school when writing in my diary about boy bands was such a breeze! I just posted about how much I love the journal "642 Things to Write About" because it gives me tons of prompts when I am feeling uninspired. Happy Writing!

  5. I tried to read War and Peace so I could feel pretentious and intelligent. Only made it a 3rd of the way through. That shit is loooong. And dull. I'm still pretending I'll pick it up back up one day, but it's not terribly likely.

    This post is justification for me to never make an Instagram account. In reality it was because I was too lazy to learn yet another social media outlet, but I'll pretend it's for productivity. :P

  6. Haha! I spend way too long on instagram - and now twitter too :/ They are honestly too addictive! May have to pick up that book though, sounds good.

    Love, love, love that Fitzgerald quote - one of my favorites :)

  7. I want to read Z so bad!! You have to post a review or facebook post or something. I know this doesn't help with your change to not be on social media as much but it's a valid reason I think. I really need to be better with my reading this year. I only read 15 books last year. I would also love to finish this novel I've been working on for...well, too long. We'll leave it at that lol

  8. Reading is very important but like you said it's hard to get off facebook long enough to do so.

  9. Reading a lot really is so important. It's very easy to feel out of the loop and stupid. I once saw Zach Woods do a very timely scene about a crocodile, I can't remember what it was about but I do remember being happy that I had read the news that day.

  10. My Dad (who is working on his book and has also won a Pulitzer prize for his writing (not trying to brag, I can barely write a blog post)) would 100% agree with this post. READ and WRITE. It sounds easy but it's hard.

  11. After reading this, I took a look at my iPhone usage.. OOOF. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are at the very top, in that order. Here's to reading/writing more and scrolling less!

    Sarah @

  12. I am definitely guilty of spending too much time on Social Media as well, but I have joined 3 different book clubs in order to make sure I keep my love of reading alive & also so I read books outside of my comfort zone. So far it is working... I think! Best of luck to you with the reading & the writing!! I know you can do it!!

  13. I'm trying to do one book a month, so I'll NEED to give some social media-ing the boot if I'm going to make that happen. Sending you mental support vibes!

  14. Thanks for sharing! I have a writing degree and all throughout college, every professor stressed how important reading is. I did Business Writing so I read business-y stuff though. But it definitely does help!

  15. I would LOVE to get in big with a literary agent. I've been starting to write more (not just for le blog) and I've been a reading fool as of late (seriously, 4-5 books within a week? Not normal!). And I commend you for being able to stand social media. I got rid of all of it a while ago and just got IG back... and am seriously contemplating deleting it already. Moral of this absurdly long blog post, I want to get my story out there. As some sort of closure from my past.

  16. Hahahaha it is true! I have high hopes to complete my second novel by May this year - that's the goal I've set for myself. But when you log onto Facebook or Instagram you start scrolling down the newsfeed and suddenly an hours gone by!! An hour wasted!! BUT - sometimes, like say, Pinterest.. can actually inspire you.

    Guage your time right and make the effort.

    Writing won't come to you - you must go to the writing.
    Your welcome :)

    Now have a glass of gin and tonic and start typing!! xx

    New follower on GFC and Bloglovin!

  17. I read to the lighthouse in one of my graduate courses and its confusing but a lot easier when a professor is explaining everything!

  18. yay for both the fact that you plan to finish this book and for the reading of To The Lighthouse ...Loved that book and read it in college.

  19. Two of my favorite things to do, read and write, so why can that be so difficult?! Thanks for the inspiration and good luck!

  20. "Z" was a great book! I really enjoyed reading about all of those fun people too, even if parts are truly tragic. Go write your book! Goooooo, you can do it!