Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How to reference #MSWL in a query

Thanks to #MSWL, more and more agents are tweeting their preferences.
I know the rule about starting your query with the pitch--you've said it, repeated it, maybe even sent out a smoke signal that didn't make it all the way to my country. But if Fabulous agent mentions on #MSWL s/he wants a novel with drunk koalas, and I have it, would it be okay to start with that?

Something like: "Through Twitter and #MSWL, I saw you were looking for submissions with drunk koalas. My novel, MAKING MY OWN BREWSKI: THE EUCALYPTUS LEAVES ERA, might be a good fit for your list."

Some sites say it's great, some say it's pointless, and I don't know who to believe (except for Your Sharkiness, of course).

The key to this is in the first sentence: tweeting their preferences. The only thing new here is the medium. Agents have always stated preferences. Preferences are listed in QueryTracker, on the agent's website guidelines, in Writers' Guide to Literary Agents, pretty much anywhere there's a list of agents.

It's always drives me slightly bonkers to have someone start out "you say on your website that you're looking for thrillers." Well, yes. I know that. I not only know that, I WROTE IT. You don't need to tell me.

What you do need to tell me is that you wrote a thriller.

And it is to be devoutly hoped I'll actually know that without you saying so, because your query will SHOW me a thriller, either by plot, or character or (dare to dream, Janet) both.

In the case of the #MSWL, you don't need to tell the agent what s/he's looking for. You say instead that you have a project that fits something on her #MSWL.

To use your example:

"Through Twitter and #MSWL, I saw you were looking for submissions with drunk koalas. My novel, MAKING MY OWN BREWSKI: THE EUCALYPTUS LEAVES ERA, might be a good fit for your list." what you mentioned on #MSWL.

Obviously you'd polish that up a bit; this is just the initial effort.

This is housekeeping so it goes at the end, BUT in the case of #MSWL, you can also put it
in the subject line.

Subj: Query for TITLE (#MSWL)

Do this so the agent knows right away this is something s/he's specifically looking for.

Do NOT overload the subject line with word count, category, publishing status, etc.


Lucie Witt said...

When I have queried based on an agent's MSWL tweets, I just indicate it in the subject. This has the added bonus of not cutting into my 250 word count. My query itself is otherwise exactly the same, unless there is some super relevant personalization to include OR unless it's unclear how my novel relates to their MSWL (even then, I still include MSWL in my subject).

I've had 100% request rate on MSWL queries before I started this R&R. I also found agents reply more quickly.

I really enjoy the MSWL hashtag because I've found a lot of agents are more likely to randomly tweet about what they're looking for than update their websites.

Good luck with querying, OP!

Laura Mary said...

Pssst... what does MSWL stand for?

Also, I love Koalas. Would totally buy that book.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Love #MSWL and her sisters.

Sure, agents mention genres et al on QT and their web sites, but sometimes they're in the mood for a particular take on something. "I want to see a thriller involving drunk koalas," they might say. Or, "I want to see more fairy tale retellings with a futuristic twist."

These specific little items are candy to us. Agent looking for the literary version of Cadbury Creme Eggs? I got yer Cadbury Creme Egg novel right here.

I get a better response rate when I query an agent who is looking for what I'm cooking. I wish agents would post their yearnings more often.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Laura Mary: Manuscript Wish List: what an agent is looking for specifically. Search Twitter for #MSWL and you'll find a feed full of agents' dream novels. You don't have to belong to Twitter to view this feed.

Unknown said...

The things you learn on this site.

I intensely dislike Twitter, but I will check out #MSWL right now.

Laura Mary said...

Aha! Thank you :-)

DLM said...

OP, on "I don't know who to believe" ... believe each agent you wish to query, individually. Those who say they want you to mention word count, genre, or your reasons for/expertise to write what you have written, or #MSWL - mention it. Those who say they don't care about these particulars, but really need to find the next big drunken koala novel: tell 'em about your brewskalyptus stylings.

I won't remonstrate with Janet on mentioning copy off her site, BUT I would say that I've mentioned specific interviews more than once, in order to point to some particular reason I'm querying. I'd also make the point that it's not unusual for an agent's or agency's copy to be ... of venerable provenance, shall we say. So pointing to something you can date to the current millennium isn't universally irrelevant - or, at least, it doesn't feel that way when you're researching an agent and find the same blurb ten times across Twitter, blog(s), agent/agency site, Agent Query, and every interview from 2004 to the present.

But then: I am no shark, and I am not agented. So perhaps this advice is pure chum.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I have learned something new. I am suddenly having less nausea over my next round of queries. Thanks. Great question OP.

How is everyone on the reef today? MSWL. Who knew? Fantastic.

Megan V said...

For those of you not familiar with #MSWL there are really 3 places you can look. The main website at, the old website and the Twitter feedon . It's definitely something to check out! There are almost always tweets on the feed (but, of course, don't use the feed to pester agents, generally, it's for a writer's viewing pleasure only) and the main website has paragraphs about what agents are looking for that are basically what you'd see on that agent's agency website.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Some agents, especially if it's an "event based" #MSWL day, may have in their submission guidelines or may have done a post about how they want #MSWL queries to come in. I queried somebody who was otherwise closed to submissions, and that agent said to stick #MSWL in the subject (I got a very briefly personal R).

There's a website where some folks have compiled #MSWL tweets so you can scroll through at your leisure: MSWishlist. I literally never know those time sensitive events like pitch-a-plenty or whatever it's called are happening until I see tweets day of, so it's nice to have a clean site to look at and not have to try and scroll through Twitter.

Colin Smith said...

I have to say, part of me frowns at #MSWL. Many times, agents are so specific about what they want, I'm either thinking, "You've almost written the book yourself!" or "Is this something you want, or something you think there's a market for?" But then I think better of these agents. They are trying to be helpful, and they are responding to what writers have wanted for a long time: help knowing what agents want. Something more specific than "thrillers." Though I'm with Janet: if you ask for thrillers, and I've written a thriller, I'll query you. So I suppose #MSWL is really to help writers who already have a vampire koala novel find agents who would love to have a vampire koala novel in their inbox.

Agent Jessica Sinsheimer has done a lot of work to cultivate #MSWL. For those who don't do Twitter, or don't want to pick through the thousands of #MSWL tweets, she has a website ( that helps writers connect with agents who are looking for what they're writing.

Colin Smith said...

Megan: *sigh* Those writers who use #MSWL to pitch their novel, or to say "Hey, I have a novel just like that! How do I query you?"!! They clutter up the feed with stuff an agent isn't going to respond to, and cast themselves in a bad light (can't they use Google? Don't they respect the rules of #MSWL?).

Adib Khorram said...

I really want #PitchAPlenty to be the name of a contest now...

I would second what others have said. The websites linked are great resources.

In addition to contests and events, I've even seen agents announce out of the blue that they're craving something in their inbox despite being closed to queries, and letting those specific queries through.

I used to be quite frightened of Twitter. But I have found that it (more than most other social media experiences) can be easily curated to suit you.

Megan V said...

Colin: Exactly! Whenever I spot a writer using #MSWL to pitch their novel I think 'this is why we can't have nice things'. There are many opportunities on Twitter to pitch to agents. In 2016 alone, there's #pitmad, #pit2pub (#p2p16), #sonofapitch, #pitchmas, #kidpit, #adpit, #sffpit, #pitchwars, #nestpitch, #ficfest, #pitchslam, #pitchwars and more!

Unknown said...

Twitter. An evil time sucker, or a valuable resource? I fluctuate. But I definitely follow Emma Watson and J. K. Rowling.

Colin Smith said...

Twitter. An evil time sucker, or a valuable resource?

Yes, it can be an evil time sucker. BUT, if you are close to querying, it's an invaluable means of getting to know agents. Not just getting to know what they want, but getting to know them. Most agents on Twitter will dialog with people other than their clients, editors, or fellow agents. You can find out things that you can use to personalize a query--even share some your quick wit and scintilating personality that will make you memorable (hopefully in a positive way) when you query them.

Twitter may seem scary and intimidating, but it is what you make of it. You can be Ms. or Mr. ChattyPants and spill your life story in 140 word blocks. Or you can be more reserved, "listen in" to dialog, and talk to people only when you feel really compelled.

Sorry, that was a little off-topic, but since it came up... :)

nightsmusic said...

#MSWL pro? If an agent is looking for something specific, it's out there immediately.

#MSWL con? The best information on what an agent is looking for is still on their site. Stop being so frigging lazy and depending on Twitter for everything including telling said authors "Oh! I have exactly what you're looking for! How do I send it to you?" Do your job, look for the information. If you're serious about getting published, you'll do your work because if you think once you sign, everything turns into fluffy puppies and parties, you've got another think coming!

*end of rant

Lucie Witt said...

Just my two cents, but whether an agency website or Twitter is best for researching agent truly depends on the agent. It can actually be more work to research on Twitter!

Anonymous said...


One thing that does that sites don't do is group wishes together in convenient little bundles.

In glancing at it now, I see one agent wants: "a romance ms with a hero who is a tatted up florist or somewhat equivalent I will read it ASAP"

Her listing on her website says nothing remotely close to this.

Another agent says she just finished reading this book and it's awesome. If you have something close to that, send it. The agency guidelines say she is interested in a wide range of fiction.

Honing in on things like this that will give the agent what they want regarding my writing is my job. It's not being lazy, it's simply using another, more precise tool.

Dena Pawling said...

What I especially like about #MSWL and similar, is many agents get more specific than on their websites. For example, instead of writing they want cozies or YA or fantasy, which are very broad, they'll include things like “dark and edgy” [which I don't write], or “light and fun” [which I do write]. This helps to narrow down the agents who would be more of a good fit for what I write. Unfortunately, it seems most things are dark and edgy now. What's so bad about reading light and fun?

I've heard good things about #pitmad and similar, altho I've never participated. Maybe I will later this year. I'll have to learn how to schedule tweets tho, because these things are always set up to run on a week day.

Twitter is good about giving a glimpse into an agent's personality. I've removed agents from my list to query because of things they've tweeted. Twitter is also good for giving me insights into the publishing industry. It can definitely be a time suck tho, which is why I use lists and/or mute many of the accounts I follow, so I don't spend more than maybe 20-30 minutes a day on it.

Craig F said...

"I suffer confusion Obi Wan. Is this Twitter-Dee we are discussing or Twitter-Dum?"

"Regretfully their mom likes Dum better. It is tough to dig out the good things Dee posts. Dum is allowed to post incessantly. It makes the whole thing an evil time suck because it can consume your quest for knowledge and understanding."

It sometimes seems to me that the agents who post on MSWL wake from some poignant dream (or nightmare) and shoot off a quick tweet as a form of memory. By the time anyone can reply that thought line has dissipated like summer dew.

nightsmusic said...


#MSWL pro? If an agent is looking for something specific, it's out there immediately.

That was my first statement.

And you can lose yourself in Twitter looking all day long but when it comes down to it, I'm still going to go to their site since I don't have ""a romance ms with a hero who is a tatted up florist or somewhat equivalent I will read it ASAP"" and that doesn't tell me what else he/she wants. So if you're only looking at Twitter, it's lazy. You're not doing your job. And being an author is still a job. It doesn't stop once the book has been picked up.

DLM said...

Julie, is a tatted up florist one who has lots of tattoos, or one who wears tatty fashions? I am floored by the specificity.

Twitter Dum: possibly the main function of #MSWL on Twitter (as opposed to the site) is a good look at the language and emotive points an agent makes, both with this and other hashtags an author may follow.

MAN, does this give insight into personality and their business expectations. It becomes clear lighting fast what agents are actually seeking certain subjects/genres/markets and what agents are market-sucking in a big way. There is a lot of the latter, and it becomes outright squirmy in a hurry, for me. The market-sucking Tweets sound like a cheesy Hollywood-movie parody of agents (not just literary), and you wonder whether they can see/hear how they "read". The shallowness can be *staggering*, collected as it is by hashtag.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

To me, at first glance, MSWL seems a great tool to add to growing arsenal of tools for finding agents. That website is especially useful. I don't like social media at all. I am already a social pariah - all I need is another dozen places for me to feel in a panic.

I use Twitter as part of that whole web presence. Mostly I tweet pictures of my pug, pretty landscapes, and cute animals. #MSWL seems a useful tool to me in addition to all the other research used to find an agent. Not as a stand alone.

Anonymous said...


Tatted up florist did indeed refer to one with a lot of tattoos. She was looking for a book with a very manly hero who does what might be typically thought of as a feminine job.

Some of them get very specific. Others are more generic, but the point of #MSWL is to fill that need authors were asking for. What exactly are you looking for right now?

"I'm looking for well written commercial fiction," on a website doesn't tell you much.

"I'm looking for the next Martian," tells you a lot more.

Sometimes it's like comps for querying.

When I was querying, I used #MSWL on twitter and the website frequently. It's a wonderful addition to other research. Plus, this gives you a chance to interact favorably with agents. I've seen them tweet something that I don't have, but I have a friend who does. I'll tweet back something like, "Oh, boy! I have a friend who has this. I'll tell her (or him) to submit."

It's another tool.

I love my straight screwdriver, but sometimes a phillips works better.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

MSWL is like being a veggie-freak for years, then one day you wake up and tell the world, today I want steak.
So what about tomorrow ?

Colin Smith said...

I mentioned above some of the cynicism I'm tempted to have toward #MSWL. I don't like cynicism, so I remind myself: agents do this kind of thing because writers ask for it! I'm sure Jessica S. has better things she could be doing with her time than creating MSWL websites and getting her fellow agents on board with the project. But in the end, it's about helping writers and agents connect. I might never make use of it myself, but thinking of it like that melts away my cynical tendencies.

Adib Khorram said...

I think a quick look at how often many agents update their web presence (including their "What I'm looking for" pages) should make the value of #MSWL clear pretty quickly. It's not a replacement for due diligence; it's an additional insight. And you don't have to scroll through Twitter to see it; the websites listed aggregate the tweets, and not only that, they make them easily searchable by keywords. Why ignore such a useful tool?

And I think it's disingenuous to conflate #MSWL—a tag used by agents and editors to state things that they are craving—with a pitching event. #MSWL isn't an event at all. It's insight into what an agent is looking for right now.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Tomorrow? Bacon, of course.

It took me a long time to "get" Twitter. I found it dull, the content meaningless self-promo and rather like a large, echoey, empty room. Yet everyone raved about it.

Where were the interesting people? Where was the scintillating conversations?

Then one night I had insomnia.

Honestly, I delved into Twitter in hopes that it would bore me to sleep.

Holy cow! All the interesting people are diurnally opposite to me.

Can't y'all have insomnia instead? I gotta get up at 5am.

JAM said...

Jennifer, you can find all the pitch contests listed here:

I've just recently dipped my toe into the twitter pitch waters.
My early impressions are it's time consuming and invasive in the idea you have to submit at exact times and dates, which interfere's with an already tight schedule.

It also seems to be frequented by the same agents who are ever-present in the popular writing circles, workshops, blogs etc. So my question is, how many times can you pitch the same handful of agents your mss before enough is enough? Especially if you have already sent them a query for your ms?

Maybe I'm behind the times, but I hope this doesn't take over for standard querying, as emailing queries has taken over from mailing paper pages.

Now, back to my hammer and chisel, I have some editing to do. ;)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the answer, Janet. Sending some chocolate your way. Or maybe cupcakes?

I know someone brought up the 'lazy' factor. #MSWL isn't something that should/can replace good ol' research. It's an extra tool designed to help writers.

And I use every tool at my disposal. Yes, it takes longer to query (after you check their site, check the AbsoluteWrite forums and Query Tracker comments to see the reply rate and other writers' experiences with that agent/agency, check Twitter to get a glimpse of their personality, stumble across their #MSWL and rejoice, and finally--finally--hit send).

It might be going overboard--and it's tedious--but I don't want an agent, I want the right agent. And if that means putting in extra work, well, nothing's as bad as the editing phase.

And I found my writing community and my lovely CPs through Twitter. So yeah, you guessed it, I'm a fan. (But I had an awful learning curve; Twitter's not that big in my country).

PS: I've noticed my queries with #MSWL in the subject line not only get a faster reply, but they tend to have a higher success rate. Of course, the sample's a bit too small to give a definitive answer.

Anonymous said...


As usual, you nailed it. Let's be friends. I have sweet tea.

Susan said...

I love looking through the MSWLs, though sometimes it bothers me for the reasons others have said--it puts a lot of pressure on the writers to squeeze their novels into the narrow confines of what the agent is requesting in the hopes of attracting their attention. When I was querying, there were many agents who said, "here's a broad overview of what I have in mind, send it to me if you think it fits. I'll know what I'm looking for when I see it." I respected this--it wasn't too detailed that it felt like it was impossible to satisfy them and it made me think they might be a good fit for the story I wanted to tell.

On the other hand, I wish there was a MSWL for readers (non-agents). That way we can say, "I'm dying to read a novelized version of the Russian fairytale 'Twelve Months'" or "'The Secret Garden' in Central Park? I'd buy that." True stories--I have a thousand ideas for books I want to read but don't necessarily want to write, including these. Maybe it would even give the industry some insight into what readers are actually craving--a different way of looking at the market and discovering the next big thing.

John Frain said...

One additional thing to mention, since I haven't seen it brought out yet, is that we writers can get as specific as the agents doing a search for mswl. If you want to plug in a particular genre and see only tweets for that genre (as opposed to sifting through scores and scores of tweets that are meaningless to you) you can do it. Here, for example, is how you'd search for agents desiring crime fiction enough to tweet about it.

Obviously, just plug in your genre in place of crime and read some tweets.

Donnaeve said...

I've looked at #MSWL mainly because I was curious, and when I glanced at the specificity of what an agent was looking for, I thought it was helpful.

An agency website's information is essentially static. It's formal, a representation of the collective bodies who work there. Some areas see changes throughout the year (adding new authors when books launch, or when awards are won), but all in all, it's meant to be the "presence" of a business. Like hanging out a tile.

Twitter is a way to be more close, more personal and share what an agent is looking for. To me, it's a quick shout out to the world, "hey, I'd like this!" I.e. less formal way to share and very dynamic.

That's my two cents - and I don't have a dog in this race, but just thought I'd share my thoughts.

And also, this caught my eye. #ficfest which looks/sounds so much like fuck fest in our sub-header I had to comment On Topic so I could add that in.

DLM said...

I don't mean to sound cynical.

Any source of information (especially online) is like a big store filled with things you *might* want, an awful lot you'd never buy, and somewhere in there is the thing you need.

Twitter has a lot that is not my size. It's awright, I don't fit everyone else in the world either. (So I feel ZERO pressure to try to fit my work to others' tastes of the moment.)

It's just like life: into every hashtag, a little dross must fall.

We all have our rights to our preferences, methods, and standards, and agents certainly make no bones about theirs. For me to pretend I have none would not serve my work - any more than it would serve an agent not to use #MSWL et al to reach out.

My process of elimination may be cynical or even snobbish. Some people think agents' methods are so. One thing we all have in common - we're exposed to breathtaking volumes of information every day. My means of winnowing out what I want to "hear" is faulty. But I don't mean it to be dismissive or cynical - any more than, I expect, most agents mean to be so themselves.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

While I'm sure many writers are lazy, the folks who come here sure aren't!

Like others have described, Twitter is a tool in my arsenal. And as Dena mentioned, I have removed some agents from my lists when I assessed their demeanor via social media. I always always check the agency website first. Then I check for an individual agent's website (like how Janet has the blog here, separate from Fine Print). Then I check for interviews. Then I read Twitter. Then I check on Absolute Write.

I was on an agency website yesterday which said "We are NOT looking for YA" and yet, two of their agent profiles on the same site said "Actively seeking ____ in YA".

I was on another agency website which listed, in Submission guidelines, query letter (well ,paraphrased, they said "genre, word count, a description of your book, think jacket copy) and also wanted an author bio, a synopsis, and a submission history. Uh? You wanna know how many people have looked at it and sent me forms? Not responded at all? How many fulls requested? Or do you mean "Has it gone to an editor/publisher"?

Sometimes, doing your due diligence means never knowing what's going on! ^^

Unknown said...

I just love that #mswl is getting so much love today!!!

A short but worthy point about subject lines, some agents auto-tag incoming emails and one of the tags that I've heard have been used is the #mswl tag. It works best when this is in the subject line as Janet mentioned!

Side note - Julie, I reached out to you on the Twitter machine. Let me know if you're able to lend a helping hand!

Also, I miss commenting and participating every day around the reef! Hearing from other brilliant writers who hitch their wagon to a shark gives me a boatload of joy! Hopefully work slows down in March and I can connect more often once again!

Joseph S. said...

Today's entry falls into the learn-something-everyday category. I had not heard of #MSWL before. Thanks to all for the education.

RachelErin said...

I also find the MSWL tag fun, for many reasons said above. All the agents who have #MSWL'd YA fantasy that is NOT set in medieval Europe will be high on my list.

I also think there's a fine line between squeezing a story to form and being informed about your genre and what's been DONE. Often themes emerge from a large clump of tweets. In my case, seeing agent reactions crystallized some thoughts I was having after reading about ten novels in my area in two weeks. I found parts of my WIP where I was being lazy.

#tenqueries can be interesting for that reason, too. When four or five agents say "I've seen X too many times," I would personally be moved to either query in such a way that the brilliance of my take on X is apparent, and/or to make my take on X more brilliant. It doesn't make me neurotic to see agents or writers disparage elements of my story in the abstract.

But maybe that's reflection of being early in my journey as a novelist.

BJ Muntain said...

I like #MSWL. Yes, sometimes the agents or editors are too specific. Sometimes it may seem like they expect you to sit down and write that book today...

But no. #MSWL is simply for writers to see, and if they have something that fits, then they can query more specifically. There are so many agents out there, and it can be hard to pinpoint which would be the best for your work - then BAMMO! You see they want what you got. Or you never thought about querying a certain agent because you didn't think they would like your work, then you see their #MSWL tweet and think, "Hey! They might like it!"

As for "#MSWL vs website" - there is no 'vs'. The website is where you will always go to find out about an agent, their wants, and their guidelines. #MSWL just guides you to an agent (and their website). You will also take said agent through Preditors & Editors, at the very least, before you query.

#MSWL does not preclude the need for research. It just points you to an agent who might be interested in your work.

As for the Twitter pitch parties - they can be fun and useful. They usually give you a 12- or 24-hour window to post your work. If you really want to post once per hour, then yes, you'll want to schedule that.

Me, I think I've exhausted them. I've had some nibbles but no bites, and the nibbles have been fewer. The nibbles seem to be coming more from small publishers right now, and I'm not sure I want to go that route yet. Science fiction doesn't seem to be as popular in these parties. I might try #sffpit again, though, but I'll check to see what agents and publishers are participating first. If it's all the same ones, I won't bother. They've seen my pitches. They've had their chance. For the most part, I'm going to stick with querying for now.

And pitch parties will never take the place of actual querying, anymore than pitch slams or pitch appointments at conferences will take the place of querying.

Megan V: You missed #pitmatch, although that was on February 11, so it's over this year. :)

BJ Muntain said...

Racherin: I like tenqueries, too. It can give you an eye into what the agents are thinking as they're reading queries - much like 'slush' or 'idol' workshops at conferences (these are sessions where the first couple pages of a work is read out loud, and the agents/editors on the panel will say where they stop reading and why.)

Specifically, with tenqueries, you can see if an agent particularly likes or dislikes antiheroes or sex scenes or violence or science fiction with aliens. More generally, you can see what is being done too much, and you can see some of the pitfalls others have fallen into that you can now avoid (lack of clarity, wrong genre, etc.) Sometimes the agents will give more specifics than they say on their website (much like #MSWL), like "I do rep science fiction, but I prefer hard science to space opera" or "I might rep romance, but don't send me erotica (often with a link to an article that tells the difference)".

I glance through these pages on (yes, they also put the tenqueries, etc., tweets there) while I drink my coffee first thing in the morning, before I'm lucid enough to actually do any work.)

Christina Seine said...

Forgive me if someone's already mentioned this (only time to skim today), but if you hate twitter (or if it sucks all the writing time out of your day), you can use tweetdeck (

On tweetdeck you can set up columns and have multiple feeds based on your preferences. For example, I have a column for my notifications, one for each of my friends, one for each agent I stalk, and one for the #mswl hastag. I change things around frequently. That way I can hop on, scan the columns I want, and hop back off. Saves time.

Lennon Faris said...

Since I had to google mswl, you can tell how much I've been using it to my advantage. Great info.

I just hate it when you are looking at a potential agent's website, and all they list for the material they seek is 'fiction.' Huh? You represent FICTION? It's like when someone asks you what you do for a living and you say, 'I work in a building.' It doesn't give me any info to decide whether my ms is something they'd actually be interested in, much less to personalize the query letter.

Marie McKay said...

Brilliant information here. Thanks everyone.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Been coming here for years, been writing for decades, been a smart ass know it all, all my life and today, I learned something.
It's a good day.

Theresa said...

Susan, I really like your idea about a wish list for readers. Wouldn't that be an interesting way to nudge the market.

I've seen MSWL and the various pitch events on Twitter and always wondered how useful they were as tools for authors to find agents. Several of you have helpfully weighed in on that so my curiosity is satisfied.

Overall, I have found Twitter a useful tool for connecting with people who are also interested in writing and publishing. Plus lots of cute puppy and kitten photos.

Timothy Lowe said...

For awhile I was reluctantly obsessed with MSWL, then I realized how misguided it can be.

Not that it's not trying to be useful - it's just that the specificity of some of these "wishes" is nothing short of absurd.

On one MSWL day, I was rolling on the floor over a bunch of tweets from "Literary Agent Vader" with the #MSWL - yes, the persona is, I believe a joke - a very funny one.

One read "Twilight where she fucking kills the vampires instead of screws them books. #mswl"

Thank you, Lord Vader, for helping me see through the madness.

The last MS I queried, I did use the search bar in the site to target a few agents, but I no longer spend time going through the feed to see what agents are hoping someone writes.

(Sometimes I secretly wonder if these are books that they themselves wish they had the time to write?)

Sherry Howard said...

Thank you! I wouldn't have considered putting MSWL in the subject line of a query.

Panda in Chief said...

I got a request for a full proposal once from a #MSWL tweet. It didn't end up going anywhere, but I got the request within hours. Personally, I love #MSWL. But the rules are pretty clear.: Go to the agents website and see how they want to receive the query, don't reply on twitter. and yes, those folks who pitch on #MSWL drive me nuts. There is no better way to destroy this for everyone else.

It's just another way to find out who's looking for what.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Weighing in rather late on this - sorry! But I just wanted to add to what Christina Seine said about using a Twitter Client rather than just going to twitter itself. I used to use TweetDeck, and it *is* good for sorting out what you do / don't want to see - but I found (after looking through a variety of programs that offer this service) that I preferred HootSuite over the others, as not only can you can also use it for the other major social networks like Facebook, but I found it to be the most user-friendly. You get more if you pay for the 'Pro' version, of course, but even with a free account, it's great. And you can schedule as well.

And thank you Janet, for that tip regarding putting the hashtag in the subject line. I wouldn't have thought of that! Not that I'm yet at querying stage, or have ever (yet) used #MSWL - but one day, hopefully :)

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

If you search twitter with the hashtag #readerwishlist there are lots of tweets.

Theresa said...

Thanks, Angie, I'll have to look at that.