Q&A with Literary Agent Jennifer Chen Tran

Did you know that the Nonfiction Authors Association offers two free monthly teleseminars to help members learn more about writing, publishing and marketing their books?

Well guess what? They do!

Jen-TranToday’s teleseminar featured a Q&A with Literary Agent Jennifer Chen Tran.

Social Media and Traditional Publishing

Jennifer had a lot of interesting insights into the world of traditional publishing. One of the most important things that came up in the discussion was the topic of platform, and specifically the kinds of social media numbers that agents and publishers are looking for.

Jennifer noted that different kinds of books require different platform numbers, but suggested that, for example, a parenting book would require a minimum of high five-figures across all social media platforms (total of all platforms combined). Memoirs, on the other hand, would require high five-figures to low six-figures, as a minimum, in order to reach the author’s intended audience.

Craft Your Query Letter

There were some funny things that came up, too, particularly concerning the all-important query letter. I’ve previously written about some of the weird and/or scammy emails I receive as an author and publisher, including poorly written queries, but Jen’s may take the cake. She said that in the past, she’s actually received queries written in iambic pentameter – pitches in poetry!

Do not do this, she says. In fact, if your query is getting too “cute,” you should definitely reconsider.

Instead, keep it simple and include the basics:

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  • A plot synopsis, for fiction. “The hook, the book, and the cook,” as she put it.
  • If you have an “in” with the agent, like you met them recently at a conference, don’t forget to include that!
  • Be sure to include a brief author bio, and…
  • Your manuscript’s word count.


Want to learn more?

Sign up for an Authority Membership at the Nonfiction Authors Association for access to the recording of this teleseminar! It’s just $19 a month, and if you live in San Diego – or anywhere else with a local chapter – you’ll also gain free access to our monthly meetings.