Literary Agent Spotlight

A Very Special Literary Agent Spotlight: Alanna Ramirez – With Q&A!

My agent, Alanna Ramirez, is the coolest. You know why?

  1. She is very pretty. As evidenced by this picture.
  2. She has a great sense of humor and actually makes editing fun.
  3. It’s obvious that she loves her job, and she is awesome at it.
  4. She has agreed to do a Q&A; session with you, my wonderful readers!


Alanna is an agent with Trident Media Group in New York. We started working together in January 2009 and we haven’t looked back since. You can find more information about her here.

I think the best way to do this is simply to open up the floor for questions. I’ll give y’all until Friday to submit a question for Alanna, and then I’ll pick several of the best ones and send them to her.

So, what can you ask her? ANYTHING! Ask her how she became an agent. Ask her what makes her read a query letter all the way through. What makes her throw a letter out? What makes her want to see more of a project? What mistakes does she see authors make when they query her?

Or you can ask her how decides whether or not a manuscript has enough potential to sell. What makes her stop reading a story? What makes her keep reading?

There is a wealth of information here, peeps, especially if you’re not lucky enough to attend one of these conferences where you talk to an agent one-on-one.

So – starting now, you have until noon (CST) on Friday to send me your questions, either by leaving a comment on this post, tweeting me @AnneRiley, or sending me an email at annerileybooks AT gmail DOT com.

I can’t wait to see your questions, and I also can’t wait to hear her answers! I hope you will find this helpful!

22 thoughts on “A Very Special Literary Agent Spotlight: Alanna Ramirez – With Q&A!

  1. What a wonderful idea, Anne! So, so many questions, but I'll limit myself to a two-parter about comparison authors:

    Q: How important is it to include comparison authors in a query? Is it helpful or harmful to include one that matches my themes and one that matches my style?

  2. Great idea, Anne! It's very generous of Alanna to do this.

    Q: What is the biggest mistake you see in query letters? How about manuscripts?

  3. Hi Anne, thanks for the great opportunity.


    I know my book is unique. I have done extensive research and found nothing like it. I have edited over one hundred times, took writing courses, joined critique groups and educated myself thoroughly on the craft before I dared to submit.

    My question is… Will you be my agent? I'm only kidding. I couldn't help but put that.

    If a writer gets strong feedback from their critique partners and instructors, how do they figure out what is missing from an agents perspective?

    I have been told that my story is strong and tightly written yet I keep getting rejected.

  4. I've got a burning question, Anne! Thanks you very much. I saw you on Twitter.

    If a new author has his first book uploaded to the Kindle store, and it's selling well there and getting great reviews on Amazon, would this make you more or less likely to want to represent them? I think I've got a good strategy for launching my book on Kindle first (I can reach a big audience and tell them about it), and then querying agents. What do you think about this approach? Is this a viable, new strategy–or, would agents and publishers want to avoid a Kindle book?

  5. What a great opportunity!

    Here are some questions:

    What are common mistakes you see when reading a partial – say the first chapter or two?

    I've struggled with backstory and world-building. Thinking of urban fantasy, how do you prefer to learn more about the world created by the author – should it be right up front, or woven through the book (or a bit of both)?

    And when do you like to learn more about the character – right away, or later in the story?



  6. Thank you for doing this!

    Q. When a bookstore buys back and resells used books, does that count towards sales for an author at all?

    Q. What kind of opening do you prefer on a book? Action, dialogue, a short intro, or something else? What catches your eye?

    Q. I know queries should be about only one book, but when does an author mention that they have other projects in the works or finished?

  7. What an excellent opportunity! Thanks, Anne and Alanna! 🙂

    I'm curious to see the answers to the rest of the questions, including the ones Anne poses in the post.

  8. Thanks Anne and Alanna for the opportunity.

    The questions already posted are great. I don't want to be repetitive. I'm looking forward to seeing the responses to the questions about what an agent looks for in a query, what makes an author reject a query, and the most common mistakes in queries and partials.

  9. Wow – this is awesome Anne. Huge thanks to you and Alanna for doing this.

    I don't have anything to add yet, but I'll put my thinking cap on 🙂

  10. Alanna and Anne,

    Thanks so much for doing this. I'm overflowing with questions (a real, live agent!), but I'll limit them to three:

    1. I often read and participate in debates on Twitter about first person versus third person. I don't think there's a right or a wrong answer, but in your opinion, is there a voice that generally works better than the other?

    2. What is the cleverest, most out-of-the-box book marketing scheme you've ever heard of or executed?

    3. At a book reading/signing, is it necessary for a male author to wear a tweed jacket? Is corduroy kosher too? Are there circumstances when no jacket at all is permissible?

    Thanks so much,

  11. How awesome Anne and Alanna! I am not sure I have any questions that have not been answered yet… But I just wanted to commend you both for allowing this great opportunity! 🙂

  12. Love this, Anne!! I already love your agent. Geez, generous much? Wow. Alanna rocks.

    My questions:

    1. Do you take a writer's online presence into consideration when regarding him/her as a prospective client?

    2. On average, how many new clients do you take on?

    3. What does your favorite pair of shoes look like?

    4. If I were to send you two different queries for two different manuscripts, would you prefer that I mention in each query that I had sent them both?

    5. If you were to own a cave troll, what would you name it and what would you do with it?

    Well then, looking forward to the answers!! Especially number five, for obvious reasons.

    Anne, I know you're a cat person, but trolls were all they had at the pet store. They're really quite loveable if you can get past the smell.

  13. Thanks for the opportunity.

    Question: I'm in a contest through a small press that the prize is the opportunity to get the novel I submitted published by them. If I win, is it better to pass on the opportunity since it is a small press and hold out for a bigger publishing house? Would it count as a credit if I did?

  14. Great idea, my Annie Poo!

    Q: In your opinion, what are the telltale signs of a good writer? When reading a manuscript, what makes you say, "Wow. This person can really write." ?

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