Breaking the Mold – Candi Wall

It’s almost time for Agent Shop again.

If you haven’t heard, we have the awesome Jenny Bent with The Bent Agency with us as our attending agent this month. As our spotlighted author, Ellyn Bache will be visiting with her novel THE ART OF SAYING GOODBYE and will give a signed copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment.

As usual, we’ll also be giving the Top Pitch Slot to one lucky pitcher.

Leave a comment on May 29th using the words Art and Goodbye and you’ll be entered to win either the book or the top slot for pitch day. Yay!

I wanted to share a few comments I’ve received from Agents over the last year I’ve been running ‘Agent Shop’. This list of comments is anonymous, since the agents and I were speaking in confidence, and some are taken from interviews, twitter, facebook, and more social platforms.

There’s want and do not want. Finding that balance isn’t easy, nor is it the same for every agent.


Breaking out of the mold, being fresh, thinking outside the box but inside enough to be saleable.

Gibberish much?

I think most of us wonder what exactly an agent or publisher means when they say that’s what they’re looking for. The problem is, unfortunately, most of the time they don’t know what exactly IT is until they see IT either.

So here’s some comments that I’ve always loved.

“…plots are used, abused and reused. It takes something special to put a new spin on an idea.”

“…too many trying to write FOR the market. If you’re following a trend, chances are the trend will play out by the time you’re showing your stuff. Trend setting is better, and when you’re writing from the heart, you have a much higher chance of getting interest.”

“A great idea , no matter how spectacular, won’t get anywhere if you don’t have the mechanics down.”

“When we say fresh, we’re looking for something we haven’t seen or something that’s done in a new way. That doesn’t mean mash everything together in a hope that something will stick.”

“I often receive incredible first chapters that aren’t followed up by the rest of the work.”

“The idea of reading everything you can get your hands on is NOT to take ideas from those other books, but to learn from the author. And that goes both ways. Learn what to do and what not to do. And btw, we don’t want to hear how bad an author sucks and how you do it so much better.”

“Opinions are like… well you get  the picture. Everyone has one. I’m entitled to mine. What I think is old, another might like. That’s why you should do your research and decide which agents might be interested in your work.”

“Keep writing.”

“Don’t edit out your own voice. That’s something that can’t be taught. It’s natural.” (THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVS!)

“Gather wide opinions. Critique partners are wonderful, so are beta readers. Let the people in your writing world help refine your work. There’s a reason why acknowledgment pages are often long.”

“Paint the picture in the mind of your readers.”

There are so many more, but I like shorter posts.

I’d love to hear which comments you’ve heard or read that really meant a lot or influenced you!

5 Responses to Breaking the Mold – Candi Wall

  1. Thank you for your post, Candi. Lots of helpful advice! I’m certainly looking forward to the Ellyn Bache giveaway and next Agent Shop.

    I have two favorite pieces of guidance for writers. One is a quote I read some years ago; I can’t recall who said it. “Think of a book you’d like to read, but which hasn’t been written yet. Then write it.”

    The other is from the Elizabethan poet Sir Phillip Sidney. At the opening of his sonnet cycle “Astrophel and Stella”, he’s suffering from unrequited love and yearns to write about it. But he’s equally frustrated in turning his thoughts into words. He’s got severe writer’s block—as he expresses in much more flowery language, of course. He tries imitating other writers, but this doesn’t work. In desperation he asks his Muse what he should do. She replies, “Fool! Look in thy heart, and write.”


  2. Mary!

    I love that. I think we sometimes forget to write from the heart.

    Thanks for stopping in.


  3. jbrayweber says:

    Love the quotes, Candi. I recognize a couple of them, too.

    One of my favorites quotes, didn’t come from an agent, but from another writer.

    “You learn something each time you write a new book that rewriting doesn’t teach you.”

    Not sure that applies here, but it rings true.



  4. john roundtree says:

    “Don’t edit out your own voice,” was one of my favorites also. Nice blog, candi!


  5. Donna Hole says:

    Hi Candi. I was directed here by one of my ftf crit partners, and I’m glad I stopped by. I enjoyed this post – and several that have come after. I’m looking forward to visiting often.



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