Webinar: Successfully Publishing Your First Novel in the 21st Century

webinar3Attention debut writers! I have a Writer’s Digest Webinar coming up on Feb 19 at 1pm.

(Remember: If you can’t attend live you will still get the webinar sent to you. You still get a critique, too.)

Also, a critique is not a query. So if you want to sign up and get a critique and then use the feedback you can still query me after!


I will be teaching Successfully Publishing Your First Novel in the 21st Century. Sign up today! It includes a critique of the first 5 pages of your manuscript. Space is limited.

From Writer’s Digest:


It has never been more difficult to get traditionally published and make your writing stand out than right now. No matter what your writing goals are, a writer needs to get their book noticed to make it in this age of publishing. But with the right tools and industry insider tips you can make it possible.

Being a published author in the 21st century means knowing how to get published, how to do it well, and how to rise above all the other books out there. Instead of accepting that it’s a competitive industry, why not learn what it takes to build a successful writing career?


  • How to begin your book and why you’ve probably been starting in the wrong spot
  • Self-editing tips that will transform your manuscript
  • How to make your query letter stand out (from someone who reads over 800 a month!)
  • Why agents stop reading your manuscript
  • What agents are looking for in writers that are going to help them stand out
  • How agents partner with authors to make them stand out in 21st century publishing

Sign up here! Listen to me for an hour and a half from the comfort of your own desk. And don’t forget: I will be critiquing the first 5 pages of everyone’s manuscript in the weeks following the Webinar.

Celebrating my four year ‘Agent-versary’

I’m celebrating my four year ‘Agent-versary’ this fall! I feel so lucky to have a job (and clients!) I love so much. Who else can say they get to read and travel for a living?

Recently, I was in Avalon, NJ for a writers retreat where I got to spend time with Kathy Temean and her lovely group of writer friends and colleagues. This was our view…

The ocean. Taking a break from the writers retreat for some fresh air.

A photo posted by Carly Watters (@carlywatters) on

What’s not to love about talking publishing at the ocean? I can smell that salty air again just looking at that picture.

Those days at the writers retreat, and long walks on the beach with an agent friend, gave me lots of time to think about my role in the industry. Working from home it’s always refreshing to be out and talking about the business in a new environment.

Agents can get a bad reputation for speaking from our high horses (“don’t send us this,” “don’t write like that”) but all of us truly know that our jobs wouldn’t be possible without writers. They have amazing, innovative, (sometimes wacky! and you know it!) ideas, but we’re so thankful for them putting their work out there every time.

I’m thankful for:

  • My clients who amaze and surprise me nearly every day! (All of you.)
  • My taste and selling some great debut novels this year! You know who you are. (Rebecca Phillips, Andrea Dunlop and Karen Katchur!)
  • Some of my client books earning out and having them get royalty checks. (Authors making a living, much to celebrate there.)
  • Taryn Fagerness, our foreign rights agent, who is doing great work for my writers in translation. Especially for Taylor Jenkins Reid who is in a whopping 10 territories now!
  • My team at P.S. Literary Agency. They rock.

Cheers to my four year Agent-versary and all the hard working writers out there! Cheers to my clients for keeping me a happy agent. Cheers to so many more years to come.

Webinar: How To Get An Agent. Includes query critique!

I’m doing another webinar! Sign up here.

I will give a presentation AND critique your query!

How to Get an Agent
By Carly Watters
Format: Live Webinar

Live Webinar Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014

Start Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Length: 90 minutes

Price: $89.99

Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for one year. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation. In all WD webinars, no question goes unanswered. Attendees have the ability to chat with the instructor during the live event and ask questions. You will receive a copy of the webinar presentation in an e-mail that goes out one week after the live event. The answers to questions not covered in the live presentation will be included in this e-mail as well.


You are invited to submit your 1 page query (max. 250 words). All submitted pages are guaranteed a written critique by Literary Agent Carly Watters. Carly reserves the right to request more writing from attendees by e-mail following the event if she deems the writing excellent.

Please Note: Even if you can’t attend the live webinar, registering for this live version will enable you to receive the On Demand webinar and a personal critique of your material. Purchasing the On Demand version after the live event will not include a critique.


Many writers think getting a literary agent is the hardest thing they’ll have to do as a writer. They think agents are looking to turn away writers, when actually many agents are actively looking to sign new talent. How do you find these agents that have open doors?

Literary Agent Carly Watters works with many debut writers she’s signed from the slush pile who have become successful multi-published authors. She’ll share the industry expectations of debut writers, how to find agents that are actively looking for new writers, and what questions to ask to make sure you find the right agent for you.

Learn what agents are being told by the industry and how that shapes the debut projects they sign, why you need an agent, and where to find agents that represent what you write. Do you want know how to hook an agent? Carly will make sure you’re fishing in the right pond.


What an author/agent relationship looks like
How to find an agent that’s right for you
How to show agents you’re a ‘career author’
How to stand out among other querying writers
What the state of the industry looks like for new authors
How agents approach the slush pile and writers conferences
The important steps to writing a successful query letter
Why you must query an agent with what they ask for


Carly Watters is a VP and senior literary agent with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent who develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career.

Never without a book on hand, she reads across categories-which is reflected in the genres she represents-and is actively seeking new authors in women’s fiction, commercial fiction, literary thrillers, upmarket nonfiction, and select YA. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

Clients include Globe and Mail bestseller Jay Onrait, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Karen Katchur, Rebecca Phillips, Colin Mochrie, Julianna Scott, Danny Appleby, Paulette Lambert and more. Carly’s blog has been named one of 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer’s Digest magazine. You can find Carly online at carlywatters.com and on Twitter @carlywatters.


Writers who are crafting their first book
Writers who have completed their first book
Published writers who do not have an agent yet
Writers who want to learn more about the author/agent relationship looks like
Writers who want to learn an agent’s role in the industry


You are invited to submit your 1 page query (max. 250 words). All submitted pages are guaranteed a written critique by Literary Agent Carly Watters. Carly reserves the right to request more writing from attendees by e-mail following the event if she deems the writing excellent. Instructions on how to submit your work are sent after you have purchased the webinar and officially register in Go-to-Webinar. When you have registered in GTW, you will receive a confirmation email from gotowebinar@citrixonline.com, which contains the information you need to access the live webinar AND the Critique Submission Instructions.


The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer speakers or over your telephone. The live webinar’s visual presentation is displayed directly from the Presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions being read and answered by the Presenter for the entire class to hear. In the event some questions are not answered during the live session, an e-mail with questions and answers will be sent to all webinar attendees. By attending the live webinar and/or asking questions, your full name may be stated during the live event and captured in the recording.

How Writers Can Show Agents They’re Career Authors

pen to paperAn agent’s job is part project manager, part contracts consultant, part therapist, part editor, and always full-time advocate. We try to be so many things for our writers and all agents have particular strengths in one part of that equation.

However, what we all have in common is treating our writers’ careers like a business.

When we sign up new authors this is what we ask ourselves:

“How can we help you make a living from your writing?”

Not only do we have to fall in love with a manuscript, connect with the author personally, sell ourselves to the writer as their champion, and know how to sell their book–we have to have a strong vision for their career and know that we are the best agent to help them secure that future.

That’s why you hear agents saying “it wasn’t for me,” or “I liked it but I didn’t love it.”

We have to be looking two books, three books, or a series ahead. It isn’t just what’s on the page today, but if we think they can grow into an author we can help for years to come.


  • In the author bio paragraph of your query letter tell us you are working on your next book.
  • Have a short synopsis of your next book prepared if an agent asks.
  • Know where you see yourself in 5-10 years as a writer. Writing the same genre? Switching gears? Still writing?
  • Network with other writers and show a public commitment to your own success.
  • Make sure your social media bios include the word writer and your posts link to writing or creative topics from time to time.
  • You don’t have to have an MFA, but attending writing workshops or joining organizations is helpful. There are so many: SCBWI for children’s books, WFWA for women’s fiction etc.
  • Knowledge about how the industry works. This is my top book on the business: INSIDE BOOK PUBLISHING. This will provide you with more than you need to know.
  • Know what you want from an agent (other than the basics): publicity division, film/tv specialists etc.