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Nov 9, 2020

Agent Spotlight Series: Dawn Dowdle

A warm welcome to literary agent Dawn Dowdle!
About Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency: 
My family and I live in Lynchburg, VA, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I am an avid lover of cozy mysteries and enjoy attending Malice Domestic. For relaxation, I assemble 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles. 

The agency is a boutique agency, where I primarily represent Romances and Mysteries. While I represent a lot of Cozy Mysteries, that is not the only type of Mystery I represent. I am also looking for Picture Books, Cookbooks, True Crime, and Middle Grade Mysteries.

One of my favorite things to do is attend writers' conferences. In addition to networking with other agents and editors, I try to meet with any of my authors who might live in the area, as well as meet new authors.

CM: Tell us two truths and one lie about you.
Dawn: My husband and I met through a phone ad. (truth)
I was a Missionary in my early 20s. (truth)
I enjoy skydiving. (false)

CM: What areas of the market do you think are oversaturated more recently?
Dawn: Mysteries have become oversaturated in the last couple of years. I feel there are still plenty of readers, but editors have become much more selective in acquiring mysteries due to the market.

CM: How did you become an agent? If you were not an agent, what career would you have pursued?
Dawn: I opened my agency for a couple of reasons. 1) I wanted to be more available to newer authors. 2) I wanted to be more accessible to my authors. Truthfully, being an agent is my favorite career. It took until I was 50 to find it and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

CM: An agent-author relationship is all about the people. What attributes do your best client relationships share?
Dawn: A willingness to accept edits and to keep trying to promote their books. Being willing to interact with readers.

CM: How many authors do you represent? How has your author list changed over time?
Dawn: I represent approximately 60 authors. People sometimes say that is too many. You have to remember that not everyone is at the same stage at the same time. Some are writing their next book and so there isn’t anything I need to do at that time other than disburse royalties to them. Some I am editing their manuscript and that takes more interaction or some I am querying. Once the query letter goes out, then it’s just checking back with the editors and keeping the authors notified of responses. Early on I had to realize that, while I would like to be an author’s agent for their whole career, that might not happen. Sometimes an author’s writing changes and they don’t fit what I represent. Sometimes an author’s book’s sales are low and they really don’t need an agent any longer. Sometimes an author stops writing for one reason or another.

CM: How hands-on are you in the editing process before you send the manuscript out to publishers?
Dawn: Every book goes through full editing with me before it is queried to editors. 

CM: How do you pitch books to publishers in a world that requires social distancing?
Dawn: This really hasn’t changed for me. I live in Virginia and pitch books via email.

CM: Describe the path to publication for one of the books you represent. 
Dawn: One author I represent had an agent before me. I believe that agent had the book for 4-5 years and was unable to get an offer for it. During this time, the author was continuing to learn and change her manuscript. From the time I signed her to getting an offer of publication was approximately 5 months. You do have to remember that the manuscript her first agent was querying was different from the one I was querying. A lot of changes had been made.

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Wish List

Genres/sub-genres you’re looking for:
  • Cozy Mysteries (Female Protagonist), Mysteries, Historical Mysteries, Suspense, 
  • Amish Romance, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense, Inspirational Romance, Historical Romance
  • True Crime, 
  • Cookbooks
  • Middle Reader Mysteries
  • Children's Picture Books
What you’re not interested in:
  • Erotica
  • Word counts over 100K, omniscient Points of View; 
  • Fantasy or sci fi (even romance), paranormal romance
  • Previously published works or books in a published series
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2 Client Examples

Zebra - 2020
Crooked Lane Books - 2020
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Query Tips

Please provide a couple of tips for querying authors.

Dos:
  • Edit your manuscript, synopsis & query letter before submitting.
  • Research the agents/editors you are querying and make your query letter fit them.
Don'ts:
  • Send one email to multiple agents at a time. We will delete it.
  • Say you saw something on our website that attracted you that isn’t really on that agent’s website.
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Submission Guidelines:
Your manuscript should: be edited, completed, double-spaced with 1" margins, have chapters begin on a new page, have chapter headings, be in Times New Roman font, be in font size 12, be LESS than 100K words. 

You must follow the query instructions on my website:  www.blueridgeagency.com
DO NOT E-MAIL YOUR QUERY!
Submit a query to Dawn using this link: