Jennifer Unter founded The Unter Agency, LLC in 2008.For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Jennifer what she typically looks for when she considers manuscripts for representation (as well as what tips she could provide for writers interested in publishing their work). Here’s what she said:
WHAT SPECIFIC CRITERIA DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING A MANUSCRIPT FOR PUBLICATION?
For fiction, I look for a unique voice or a different angle of storytelling. I have to feel that there is a reason that people will want to read this particular book, whether it’s beautiful writing or a new way of telling a story. For nonfiction, I look at the writer’s bio and platform to make sure they have an audience that will want to read what this person has to say.
WHAT SHOULD A WRITER INCLUDE IN A QUERY TO AN AGENT?
I like to see that the writer has done their homework and knows what I’ve done in the past that would make me interested in what they have written. I’m also very interested in their bio and what else they’ve written.
AS AN AGENT, I SUSPECT YOU RECEIVE MANUSCRIPTS THAT AREN’T QUITE FINISHED. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS CONCERNING REVISION/EDITING?
I do receive unfinished manuscripts, and would advise writers to send final manuscripts since agents will usually ask them to finish it before considering. If you need help with revisions or editing, a critique group is a great place to start.
WHAT IRRITATES YOU AS AN AGENT WHEN YOU’RE EVALUATING A MANUSCRIPT FOR PUBLICATION?
Bad grammar and typos! I’ll know that I don’t want to work with that writer since they aren’t taking the time to make the manuscript the best it can be.
WHAT ADVICE WOUD YOU PROVIDE TO WRITERS WHO WANT TO SECURE AN AGENT?
Go to writer’s conferences and meet agents. Also, do research into who might be the best agent fit for you, based on what the agent has represented previously.
IS SELF-PUBLISHING A GOOD OPTION?
I think it’s a good option for books that were previously traditionally published and have gone out of print. I also think it’s a good option if the manuscript is a bit outside of the set categories, something a little offbeat, that might not be a fit for a traditional publisher. It’s difficult to get attention with a self-published book, though, so that’s something to really consider.