Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

A letter I got today about literary agents

by Rob - December 22nd, 2006.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

Just received the following email, with the subject line “My Friend is an excellent Science Fiction, Military, And “What If” Writer.”

Dear Mr. Sawyer,

I have a Writer Friend who has a great imagination and is an excellent Writer! We met at our Writer’s group and are “Writer Friends.” Do you know of an agent that accepts stories like his? He is very prolific and is always researching, and finding ideas. I am a Writer too, but what I do is Romantic, Family History, Poetry and short stories. Here is a sample of my friend’s work [Word file attached]. Would you let me know.

And here’s my reply:

My lawyer has advised me not to read the work of beginning writers who approach me over the Internet. Sadly, we live in a very litigious world, and the risk is too great that someday someone will claim that something I independently created was influenced by or based on some unpublished work I’d supposedly seen online. And so I have to politely decline to look at the work you want me to read; I hope you’ll understand.

That said, there’s information on finding agents on my web site:

Also, I have to say you’re going about this backwards. You, or your friend, should be reading widely in the field you want to publish in, and identifying which authors are writing similar material, and then finding out who their agents are. Don’t ask others to do your homework for you; your friend needs to know the field well enough to figure out who the appropriate agents to approach are. Now, if you want to come back to me with a question such as, “My friend writes books similar to those of XXXX and YYYY, and I was wondering if you could tell me who their agents are?,” I’d be glad to oblige if I happen to have the answer.

Best of luck.


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