Wednesday, March 4, 2015

John Rudolph- Agent

Let's get to know John Rudolph, an agent with Dystel & Goderich Literary. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Spring ANWA conference last month.

A little background first. John joined Dystel & Goderich in 2010 after twelve years acquiring children's books at GP Putnam's Sons and Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

He stressed that his opinions reflect just one agent, not the industry as a whole. So what does he want? What are his pet peeves? and What does he think?

First, why should you have an agent? John says that agents are a writers first line of defense. They are on your side and are able to wade through the nitty-gritty stuff. They will also try to monetize your book the best that they can.

But, how do you get that agent? You query and pitch, but be ready first. John says that half of the queries he passes on just aren't ready to pitch. Make sure you get critiques and edits done first. Once you are ready, make sure your pitch works. First, read the submission guidelines on the agency site and follow them. In your query mention what category your book fits into. Mention any connections what so ever you might have with him. Also, he likes email best. Make  sure you spell his name right!

He likes short queries, maybe two paragraphs. He wants them to be well structured and full of active verbs.

What is he looking for? He likes to be blown away, to say "Whoa, what is going on here?" He wants you to take him to see things he's never seen. Not just new planets, but new cultures. He wants beginnings, middles and ends, no cliffhangers. He reps both adult and children's books.

 I got this from the agency website- "On the children’s side, John is keenly interested in middle-grade and young adult fiction and would love to find the next great picture book author/illustrator. For adults, he is actively looking for narrative nonfiction, especially in music, sports, history, popular science, “big think”, performing arts, health, business, memoir, military history, and humor. He is also interested in commercial fiction, but is very selective in what he takes on."

His do list:
Do have a social media presence: blog, tweet and have a website. Produce content consistently and be a professional author.

Do put out books, The more volume you put out, the more distribution you get.

Do know your grammar.

Do read lots of books in your genre.

His don't list:
Don't fall into cliche writing. He see's a lot of thrillers that start out with an ex-cop/soldier in the Florida keys drinking beer on a boat. He has also seen too many teens in high school with super powers.

Don't tell him you can write because you're retired or have free time.

He doesn't rep romance.

Avoid prologues.

Don't start a children's book out with an adult character.

Don't have characters that make *mental notes to do something later.

How to send him a query- Here are SOME of the agency quidelines:

We prefer email queries, as most do nowadays, so please make sure your cover letter is in the body of the email. Synopses, outlines or sample chapters (say, one chapter or the first 25 pages of your manuscript) should either be included below the cover letter or attached as a separate document. We won’t open attachments if they come with a blank email, by the way.

John's email address-


  1. Thanks, Dorine. This is great information. I will print this out and have it when the time comes.