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gillian marchenko

Author and Speaker


Find an agent for your book; what to do WAY before & A BOOK GIVEAWAY!


Giveaway is closed! Congratulations to Christina Lasswell for winning a copy of Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird”!

Do you hope to one day find an agent for your book?

Are you like this?

Do you hope to be like this?








Finding an agent for your book can be tricky, heart wrenching, exhilarating, painful, long … The list goes on.

As an agented author, here is my cheat sheet of things to do WAY before you look for representation. You need to be ready.

If you want to find an agent for your book, read.

Readers tend to write well. Read in your genre, but generally too. I write memoir and personal essays, and I’ve read some wonderful memoirs this year, Hope Eldeman’s “The Possibility of Everything”“Let’s Take the Long Way Home” by Gail Caldwell and “An Unquiet Mind” by Kay Redfield Jamison, to name a few.

And don’t forget to read books on craft. For memoir, I love Vivian Gornicks, “The Situation and the Story” and Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.”

If you want to find an agent for your book, write.

Practice writing. Every person on the planet has a compelling story. Life is often stranger than fiction. In order to write a successful memoir, novel, short story, poetry that will become a book, your writing has to be stellar.

Seriously, in order to write a book, you have to spend countless hours WRITING. You better like to write, or at least have enough discipline to do it.

If you want to find an agent for your book, join a writing class.

If you are a part of a class that submits and critique work, then you will be forced to write. I attend a memoir workshop at Story Studio here in Chicago. I love it. The instructor is knowledgeable and kind (check out her blog: Annette Gendler) and the writers are not only gifted, but great at critique. Plus, there’s food and drinks!

If you don’t have a class in your area, start one or look for one on-line.

If you want to find an agent for your book, build a platform.

Start a blog, get active on Facebook, Tweet.

Yeah, do all the social media stuff. Do it well. And do it often. These days, it’s all about PLATFORM. Jane Friedman has a great post on this topic: A Definition of Author Platform. 

Jane says that “what editors and agents typically mean by platform is that they’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.”

If you don’t have a blog, start one. Open up a Facebook fan page. Look for opportunities to form relationships with other writers and people in the business. Guest post. Interview people on your new blog.

If you want to find an agent for your book, read, write, and build an author tribe.

And when you are ready to look for an agent, who knows, maybe they’ll be looking for you instead.

Here are some helpful links from people who know and do way more than me:

Advice to First Time Authors from Michael Hyatt

Crafting a Writing Goal from WordServe Water Cooler 

Writing Tips from Jeff Goins

(Go to the Wordserve Water Cooler to find more great posts on finding agents and getting your book published.)


I’m giving away a copy of Anne Lamott’s famous book on writing, “Bird by Bird.”

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment and tell me where you are in your writing journey.

For a second chance, like my Facebook author page.

The winner will be chosen through next Thursday, August 30th at midnight.

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the parade!

Follow the rest of the WordServe Watercooler Parade for a chance at amazing gifts and stellar writing advice from other published and agented authors:

1. Anita Agers-Brooks: Anita Fresh Faith
Get your free copy of my e-BookMarketing with Personality, when you comment on my blog, and provide contact information at the link provided in the post.

2. Julie Cantrell: Julie’s Journal
Chance to win a signed copy of the NYT and USA Today bestselling novel, Into the Free.

3. Dianne Christner: plain girl romanticizing
Chance to win a free copy of Something Blue.

4. Dena Ratliff Dyer: Mother Inferior
Giveaway is a prize pack of books for women.

5. Jan Dunlap: Jan Dunlap’s Blog
The first chapter of A Murder of Crows: A Bob White Birder Murder Mystery. Book to be released in September!

6. Michelle Griep: Writer Off Leash
Giving away an e-book of Undercurrent.

7. Karen Jordan: BLESSED Legacy Stories
Leave a comment on my blog (before August 31) for your chance to win a copy ofHeavenly Company by Cecil Murphey &Twila Belk (my latest book contribution).

8. Sharon Lavy: Sharon Lavy’s Blogspot.
Giving away a set of mugs and book A Friend in the Storm by Cheryl Ricker.

9. Gillian Marchenko: Gillian Marchenko’s Blog
Giving away a copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird to a commenter.

10. Katy McKenna: Fallible
A chance to win a Mary Engelbreit journal and set of note cards.

11. Melissa K. Norris: Inspiring Your Faith and Pioneer Roots
Chance to Win 10 Page Critique of Your Novel and Query Letter.

12. Jordyn Redwood: Redwood’s Medical Edge
Chance to win a signed copy of Proof.

13. Cheryl Ricker: Fresh Air
Two winners will receive their choice of A Friend in the Storm or Kernels of Hope.

14. Kimberly Vargas: Kimberly Vargas’s Blog
A chance to win one of ten autographed copies of Gumbeaux.

15. Janalyn Voigt: Live Write Breath
Chance to win a free copy of DawnSinger (winner’s choice of format).

16. Lucille Zimmerman: Lucille Zimmerman
Chance to win a Lemongrass Eucalyptus Bath Body Lotion Scrub Spa Set

Hope you enjoyed our parade!


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  1. […] Gillian Marchenko: Gillian Marchenko’s Blog Giving away a copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird to a […]

  2. Hi Gillian! I’m excited about what God’s doing in your life and writing ministry! Continued blessings to you!

  3. Gillian, I do believe we are kindred spirits! I love your post (always do) and since I loaned my copy of Bird by Bird only to have it fly away…I’d like to be entered in the drawing. Have a fabulous day, and thanks for sharing your fab tips!

  4. Thanks for the advice! I’m in the middle of my first-ever first draft of a historical fiction novel. I have loved the journey so far. Meeting new friends online, including authors who’ve mentored me. It’s truly living a dream. I’ve been doing all the things you suggested- except the writing class. But I have been taking the time to read almost everything I can on the craft, and even when I’m not physically writing, I’m mulling over how I can make it better. This book’s on my list, so it would be great to have!

  5. Sarah Joy says:

    Great post! I think this will really help me find myself.

    Okay, baby had a party in my belly last night, and I was invited, so I didn’t get much sleep, Hence the cheesy humor. 🙂

  6. diannechristner says:

    What great information! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Maxine says:

    great reading this…some day I will get my head together and write! you remain an inspiration although we have never met.
    Maxine Walsh.

  8. I’ve been meaning to read Bird by Bird, thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  9. Ellen Stumbo says:

    Oh I have not read this book! Where am I at in my writing? I am doing freelance right now until my kids are in school full time. So one more year of freelancing and contracting work and then I will give start working on some book proposals and finding an agent.

  10. […] Marchenko: Gillian Marchenko’s Blog Giving away a copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird to a […]

  11. wanderer says:

    I came over from WordServe Water Cooler a while back and left a comment on an old post, the sad-funny one about what you miss about Ukraine. I love your posts about Ukraine since I live in Romania right now. As to my writing journey, I’ve been journaling for years, bloggin for maybe one year, and have a million ideas for mostly nonfiction/memoirs. Where does that put me?

  12. Karen Jordan says:

    Thanks for the mention, Gillian! You offered some excellent tips for writers here. And great giveaway–Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” is one of my favorites, too! Blessings!

  13. Wade Webster says:

    Hi, Gillian. I must be on the right track in my writing career. I wrote two manuscripts, started a blog in March, 2011; joined facebook and twitter; opened an author page. Now, I’m gearing up for the ACFW National Conference in Dallas next month. I think all I’m missing is fervent prayer from fellow writers.

  14. Gillian, you make some great points that are sure to help many writers.

    In my own journey, I’m amazed and grateful to have agent representation and a published novel with another on the way. Now I’m getting up to speed on promoting them. 🙂

  15. This is great information. I love writing to tell my story, not so much into the marketing part and I’m ok with that. It just has to come out of me. I believe like you’ve said that everyone has a story. I love your blog. Can’t wait for your book.

  16. Just what I needed to read, Gillian, as I continue to search for exactly what it is the God wants to do with my love of writing. New to the idea of writing for God, eager to see what His plans for me are, enjoying the opportunities He has blessed me with the past 6 months … and praying to be ever faithful to simply walk that day’s step forward in spite of my own fears that I’m not good enough or worthy enough to write for my Savior. (I suppose I really do need to find a copy of Bird by Bird … this is the 3rd or 4th time in the past several weeks that its been suggested as a good book. 🙂

  17. Thank you for this post! I am just rediscovering my passion for writing after a very long drought. I just started my first blog about a month ago and I’m still trying to figure it all out. So far it has been a good experience and I’m trying to build my following up. I have Bird by Bird on my to-read list, so I am hoping I win 🙂

  18. […] spent four years writing the book. I had to learn about the craft and grow my writing muscles. During those years the manuscript was professionally edited […]

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