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How to Catch an Agent's Eye with Professionalism and Good Writing

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What catches the literary agent's eye? Literary Agent Jeanie Collins Pantelakis shows authors at the Red Clay Writer's Conference how to get an agent with professionalism and good writing. Along the way, Patelakis has met a few characters.

Ghosts, fairy godmothers, a depression era runaway, a pastor who becomes a Sherlock Holmes, murderers, and time travelers: These are a few of the intriguing characters you will meet when you read books by the clients of literary agent Jeanie Collins Pantelakis. Currently she represents over forty-five authors at the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency. One ofthese, Ray Atkins, is well known to the members of the Georgia Writers Association. Atkins’ The Front PorchProphet won the Georgia Author of the Year Award for First Novel in 2009. Sorrow Woodwas a shortlist finalist for the 2010 GAYA for Fiction.

On Saturday, Nov. 12th, Ms.Pantelakis will be a guest presenter at the Red Clay Writers Conference, hosted by the GWA at Kennesaw State University in the Social Science Building. Her Ask the Agent session will feature query composition, synopsis development, and hooking the reader, with a Q&A follow up. The query, synopsis, and the hook are the first things that catch her agent’s eye as she reads through materialsubmitted by a potential new client. Ms. Pantelakis begins with the query. If it is professionally composed, includes the information she needs to know, and it intrigues her, she will continue to the synopsis. Here she looks for a writer to include a beginning, middle, and ending. This lets her know if the writer can follow through on the development of the story. If she is still interested, she will read the first few paragraphs of the book: “Even if the query and the synopsis are pretty good, the hook is the writer’s true talent that grabs my attention and keeps it.” At this point, if she can’t put it down, the manuscript goes in her queue to be read as soon as possible.

What shuts Ms. Pantelakis agent’s eye is unprofessionalism, failure to follow website guidelines, and bad writing. Ittakes her about sixty seconds of looking at new material to decide if it is ago or a no-go. She believes that a passion for her work spurs on her drive forsuccess: “I absolutely look forward to every day that I am able to read excellent works and lead my clients to profitable publication.”

Mrs. Pantelakis’ forte is Southern fiction, historical fiction/romance, and mysteries. Lin Waterhouse, Reavis Wortham, K.D.McCrite, Buzz Bernard, and Ann Hite are a few of Ms. Pantelakis’s most successful clients. Wortham, Bernard, and Hite have been approached for foreign rights and movie deals. She believes she has many books coming out that will sky-rocket by next year. One thing that may be encouraging to new writers is that she has signed new clients via direct contact at writing conferences. Her submission guidelines are: query, synopsis, and the first three chapters withthe query in the body of the email, and the others as Word documents.

It is easy to believe Ms. Pantelakis loves her job when she says, “I like being OZ; the woman behind the curtain who lifts my clients up for the whole world to see.” Her website www.sullivanmaxx.com reflects her enthusiasm and admiration for the many writers she represents:they have their own special literary cheerleader in Jeanie Collins Pantelakis.

Come and attend her panel presentation at the Red Clay Writers Conference on Nov. 12 at KSU and find out for yourself how to write the winning query letter.

Article by Jo Wall

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