Interview with agent Amanda Luedeke

Agents love to come to Midwest Writers–they love the personal touch of our conference and we love giving our attendees the opportunity to pitch their projects.

Luedeke AmandaAmanda Luedeke is an agent with MacGregor Literary. One of her defining skills as an agent is her understanding of marketing and promotions. Before agenting, Amanda worked as a social media marketer and a copywriter at a marketing agency in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There, she worked with Vera Bradley, Peg Perego, Benjamin Moore, and other major national clients. Amanda represents CBA and general market literary fiction, romance, paranormal romance, women’s fiction, YA, science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk, African American fiction, and non-fiction of all genres.

Interesting side note–Amanda is a graduate of the Professional Writing program at Taylor University where she studied under Dr. Dennis Hensley, who is on the MWW committee and teaches Manuscript Makeovers at the workshop. MWW committee member Linda Taylor interviewed Amanda for this week’s E-pistle.

Linda: We are always so thrilled to have agents at our conference to hear pitches from our attendees (and they’re thrilled as well)! The MacGregor Literary agency offers guidelines for queries and submissions. What makes your heart sing when an author sits down in front of you at a conference? How do you like authors to prepare for their pitch?

Amanda: I like it when an author has really thought about how to position and explain their book. Many times, they either provide too much detail (in which they hook me with their opening lines, but then they get sidetracked explaining the subplots or side characters) or not enough and I have to drag it out of them (meaning they sit down and say something like my book is about a girl with a secret . . . I don’t know genre, audience, length OR hook based on this information). I’m always impressed when an author can identify their book’s market (“My book will appeal to everyone” is NOT a valid answer!), and what makes it unique in comparison to other books in the genre. And of course, it helps if they know a bit about me. It’s usually not a good pitch experience if the author hasn’t taken the time to research my agency and what I represent.

Linda: Often people don’t really understand what an agent does. When you show interest in a manuscript, what happens next?

Amanda: I ask for them to send it to me as an email attachment. Now, believe it or not, the chances of them actually following through are slim. Some authors convince themselves that I wasn’t really interested while others let life get in the way. But if I ask to see the project, rest assured that I really want to see it. If after reading it, I like what I read and think I can sell it, then I’ll get on the phone with the author and we’ll see if we’re a good fit. You should NEVER sign with an agent you don’t feel comfortable with. Never.

Linda: You have a wide range of interests–but how does the CBA (Christian) market impact that? Do people need to write in an overtly “Christian” way in order to pitch to you? Is there anything in particular that you say no to?

Amanda: If someone pitches me a YA Fantasy novel, then I treat it like a YA Fantasy novel and expect it to deliver on reader expectations for that genre. Likewise, if someone pitches me a Christian novel, I expect it to deliver on the expectations for that genre. But just because I work with Christian titles doesn’t mean that everything I represent has to reflect that. In fact I prefer that it DOESN’T. There’s nothing worse than a book that’s trying to ride the fence between Christian and mainstream.

Now, for the record I am a Christian. But the only genre that I shy away from because of that is erotica. I’m okay with some levels of steaminess, but I draw the line there.

Linda: What sets you apart from other agents?

Amanda: I’d say it’s my background in marketing. I spent some years at an agency outside of Chicago launching blogs, websites, Facebook Groups, Twitter accounts and more on behalf of some pretty major clients. Consequently, I’m not afraid of marketing or promotions, and I’m certainly not intimidated by the word “platform” that we hear from so many publishing professionals. I love helping my authors get a handle on marketing, because at the end of the day, marketing helps your sales, and your sales determine what kind of a career you’ll have.

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If you’re interested in making a pitch to Amanda (or any of the agents), you must register ahead of time. Specify which agent you want during the online registration process. You’ll hear from us as we set up each agent’s schedule.

Remember that these are 3-minute pitch sessions, and you can leave a workshop you’re attending and then return to it after your pitch. There is no cost for these pitch sessions, but you MUST register for the agent you prefer. Each agent will meet with a limited number of participants (and some agent slots are nearly full), so register soon.

Amanda’s Part II sessions (Friday and Saturday) include:

  • Queries That Work. Get your foot in the door by learning how to construct a query letter that an agent will actually read. With experience in writing marketing and sales copy for national brands, Amanda unpacks what it takes to write a query that not only gets read, but demands that the reader ask for more.
  • Agent Panel Q&A: Sarah LaPolla, Victoria Marini, John Cusick, Amanda Luedeke, Brooks Sherman:Topics: The 3-minute pitch, query letters, etc.
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