Why Do Agents Go To Writers’ Conferences?


A few weekends ago I attended New England Crime Bake, a jolly mystery conference filled with talented published writers, attentive newbies and convivial agents and editors.

If it turns out I found a new talent there, I’ll be thrilled. But that’s not why I went. Every year it makes sense to attend a gathering of writers and fans and colleagues; I always walk away with tidbits of new knowledge. I had breakfast with my old pal Brendan DuBois, for instance, who is having such a good experience with James Patterson’s Book Shorts line. His happy success in this fresh category of publishing was interesting intelligence to me.

And I refined my editorial skills as I listened to pitches and was read first-page manuscripts by six aspiring writers. Each writer had talent, but I found myself saying often, “Cut those adjectives. Every one of them. Eliminate them from your first three pages of text.”

Adjectives are not your friends. They’re like crabgrass. They’re like weeds. They’re like too much salt. I know this is advice you’ve heard before, but before submitting a manuscript to a publisher, please go through it one more time and clean it up. You probably don’t even notice them anymore, but to a professional editor they’ll jangle like an off-key voice in an otherwise competent choir.

If you have a manuscript you want to submit, feel free to send it our way.