Our guest blogger is Hannah Rogers, literary agent. Her website is here.
Hi! I'm Hannah. It's a thrill to talk to the famous "Evil Minions." I wish I had minions, although I wouldn't call them that. Maybe Hannah's Flunkies. I'd prefer something that rhymes, but all I can think of is Hannah's Bananas.
Anyway, I'm known as the first agent to accept manuscript submissions of only the first sentence. It's a big time saver. Not only does it save me reading time and you writing time, but I'm able to respond within hours, sometimes minutes. Depends on whether I'm at my computer when your sentence comes in or out to lunch with my unpaid intern, Chelsea.
I have a theory about writing. My theory is this: If you can come up with a fantastic first sentence, the book will practically write itself. That means your manuscript doesn't need to be complete to submit to me. In fact, all you need is one sentence.
Why write a whole book, only to have agents read the first sentence and reject it? I say there's a better way. Write the first sentence, submit it to me, and if I give you the go-ahead, write the book. If I don't, you've saved months of futile work.
Being a twenty-first-century agent, I'm into digital everything, including responding to submissions on my Twitter account. I post your sentence and tweet my reaction to it. Tweet tweet! What this means is that if your first sentence is more than 140 characters (For instance: The package that came in the mail contained the diary of a man I'd never heard of, but what intrigued me even more was the two missing pages.), it won't fit, and if it's much more than 100 characters, there may not be room for me to say something like, I love that sentence; please send me the complete manuscript now or whenever you finish the book. See, that was 97 characters. So Hemingway those first sentences, don't Tolstoy them.
You may be thinking, I'm not a twitterer, so how will I see your response? You can become a twitterer (tweep), which requires only a fake name and an email address.
You may also be thinking, Since when are "Hemingway" and "Tolstoy" verbs? That was my way of saying, If you make Hemingway and Tolstoy verbs on page 1 of your manuscript, most agents will reject you immediately, but not me, because I've done it myself.
You can submit your sentence as a comment to this post. I challenge every Evil Minion to send me one fantastic first sentence today. Who knows? I may be tweeting you a book contract tomorrow.