Thursday, September 23, 2010

Learning From Literary Agent Marietta Zacker

I can't say this enough...go to conferences...take risks... network...and if you have the opportunity to do an editor or an agent critique...DO IT!  I was chatting to some of the people around me, in the lecture hall, and was surprised to find out how few signed up for the critiques.  I wonder why that is??? (Anyway, I'm sure you want to know what I learned from Literary Agent Marietta Zacker.)

Marietta Zacker is a Literary Agent at the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency in New Jersey.  If her name sounds familiar to you it's probably because she is our dear friend Hilary Wagner's agent.  (If you haven't bought a copy of NIGHTSHADE CITY, you need to!  It is fantastic!!!! Yes, I used four exclamation marks...)

I read my pitch for A CAKE I WILL BAKE to Marietta and two other writers, then I read my manuscript.  (I was rather nervous and stammered a little bit...)  Then we discussed it.

Positives from Marietta:
*She liked my topic...
*She said I had a nice poem, but stumbled over some parts...
*My pitch went with my poem... 
*She liked my series idea...
*She liked my marketing idea...

Things I learned from Marietta:
*I need a defined main character, not "I"
*Rhyming books are a hard sell...
*If I was to change the main character to an animal rather than a person it would make the book even more fun...
*Sometimes rhyming sounds forced (even if it didn't feel forced when it came out of your mouth...ex: I'll mix in three eggs and white flour too, pour in some sugar and shout, "Yahoo!")

What will I do with this information? I will revise...I already have something in mind. (smile)  Do you like the name Zadie???  Is it fun on the tongue?

If you submit to Marietta, be sure to follow her guidelines and keep your query letter brief.  She is passionate about books and about her authors. She wants to see that you are passionate about your work... (In other words, know what you are writing about...immerse yourself in your your genre...)


  1. I totally agree. Networking is so important! BTW, I am always happy to take a look at a PB manuscript and give you my overall thoughts.

  2. I LOVE the name Zadie! It sounds very fun and picture bookish. Thanks for sharing your experience and feedback with us, Sharon. :-)

  3. I love the name Zadie! And hey, I like rhyming!!

    Sounds like I need to get off the wall and join in!


  4. Marietta is so nice! I forget which full of mine she read, but she gave me some nice feedback. Also, Corey Schwartz totally rocks and I think you should take her up on her offer to crit a PB!

  5. Oh again - well done you!!!!! It's such a fab critique - very positive and with lots and lots of ideas to work from!

    Zadie is a lovely name! Go for it!!

    Take care

  6. Great post, love the idea and advice.


  7. Both this post and the last are so great, Sharon. Thanks for sharing all the details from your critiques.

    And I like Zadie. :)


  8. hi miss sharon! im real glad you went at that confrence and learned soooo much and found out how to make you book better. heres what i think about zadie!

    zadie hoped in books to be
    and acted up for all to see.
    climb down zadie from that tree
    cause soon youll be a cool mc!

    ...smiles and hugs from lenny

  9. I think Zadie is a very pretty and fun name. :)

    Thank you for sharing your conference experience and critiques with us. I've learned a lot from this!

  10. I like the name Zadie. How cute! Sounds like you had a very positive experience! I love those. =)

  11. I love the name Zadie - fun and lively :)

  12. I've not heard that name before, but I like it!!! I am co-hosting a blog hop today, please hop by and pawticipate!

  13. Hi Sharon,
    After reading Brian's comment, I will have to paws for thought.
    You offer a lot of good advice for aspiring writers and poets. I've no doubt you can get lots of valuable and constructive advice from a literary agent. I think the positives and the advice you received from Marietta are most notable.
    'Zadie' is a very 'zippidity doo dah' name. Which means, I like the name.
    Kind wishes, Gary:-)

  14. I have a lot to learn when I finally get to the point of querying. Right now I'm still at the stage of blogging about it all and writing a ton of first drafts. I'm hoping one day revising will become apart of my life.

  15. Wow, that sounds like a lot of good feedback! I try and pick up whatever critique I can, it is ALWAYS helpful, especially when it comes from the gatekeepers :)

  16. I'm glad you had fun and felt you learned a lot.
    I love the name Zadie (and Sadie).

  17. You are so sweet Sharon! No wonder you're writing a book about cake! I'm so glad Marietta had some good tips for you. Since she things an animal would make a great MC, how 'bout a rat??? Just saying... ;)

    I can't wait to see your PB on the shelves and I KNOW I will!!!!! :):):):)

    xoxo -- Hilary

  18. I'm SO glad you got so much out of this conference and these workshops. It's great of you to share what you learned. I love the name Zadie! Is Zadie a Zebra? ;-)

  19. Love the name Zadie...great word/name choice. It makes the reader smile as they say it. =)
    Thanks for a helpful and insightful post!

  20. How wonderful you were able to get some valuable feedback on your writing. It looks like your trip to the conference is helping you grow ~ good for you Sharon! Zadie ~ a fun name!

    xo Catherine

  21. Hi Sharon .. that was so interesting .. why are we so shy?! Be brave .. and ask questions - the only way we'll jump the hurdle and move on.

    Good for you .. and Marietta gave you some food for thought - that's for sure .. & it's better to get it right now, rather than later on. (ie the concept for the future etc)

    Zadie a good name .. and I look forward to seeing the character emerge .. enjoy your weekend .. Hilary

  22. Hi Sharon! Thanks for stopping by Catladyland yesterday.

    Great points in your post today -- I love sharing valuable information. I look forward to following your blog. :)

  23. Taking that risk and putting yourself out there is SCARY! But I'm so glad you did it and had a good experience! Hurray! I'll bet you came away pumped and psyched!

  24. Dear Sharon,
    I apologize for not stopping by sooner, but my week at work was chaotic. I've even neglected my own blog. Thank you for your comments on my blog. I added you to my blogroll ;)
    I'm travelling for business so I won't be able to leave you some comments until Tuesday. I'll be more assiduous on my blog-reading next week.
    Have a great weekend!

  25. Thanks so much for stopping by and celebrating Maggie May Day with me!
    ♥ Maggie May

  26. You are very right Sharon, but it does take courage

    Warm regards

  27. Love all her advice and the name Zadie! :o) The book is going to turn out great, I just know it.

    And someday I'll take your advice and go to a conference... I swear it!

    Have an awesome weekend!!!

  28. Yeay, Sharon, what great feedback! I love it when I receive positive and constructive criticism that I can run with!

    I love the name Zadie -- sounds hip and down-to-earth at the same time. Does that make sense?

    I'd love to read the new and improved "A cake I will bake"! :)

  29. I thought I left a comment already. I've read the post three times. Oh well, I love the advice she gave you, it' specific and helpful. I know we'll all be better writers if we take good advice like that.

  30. Zadie sounds like a fun name. Happy revising!

  31. How great she took a picture with you. You don't look nervous at all! I'm glad it was a learning experience, and you shared what you learned with us.

    I hope you get that book to shine!

  32. So glad you met with her! What valuable information. I met with some at my last conference because I figured I had nothing to lose, only to gain:)

  33. THANKS FOR STOPPING IN EVERYONE! I DO HOPE THAT IF AND WHEN YOU GO TO A CONFERENCE...YOU WILL ( I REPEAT) YOU WILL...PARTICIPATE IN THE EDITOR/AGENT/AND OR GROUP CRITIQUES...They are well worth the risk! You will grow and that is why you go to learn. :) Happy Writing!