Everything you wanted to know about Rachel Vater, but were afraid to ask.

Well, probably not everything, but it sounded fun.

I met Rachel in the bar. Let me tell you, the bar is the place to be after hours. She was on one side of the circle of chairs, sofas and tables we had commandeered and I was on the other end. Her group drifted away so she scooted closer to us and I was just lucky enough to be sitting in the chair next to the one she chose.

I recognized her, of course, since she is one of the agents on my top ten list. I tried to get an appointment with her, but she was booked. Even so, I avoided the subject of writing and books. I figured the agents and editors need to feel like humans and not meat. So we discussed her family and childhood home.

This lady is a real beauty not only physical, but also personally. She has a lovely smile and sense of humor and is just fascinating to listen to. I could shoot the bull with her for hours…and did.

It really did feel like fate was at work here. It seemed every time I turned around I was bumping into her. I was sitting at the bar the next night and she sat down next to me and the bull session started again. I offered to buy her a drink and she accepted. I almost felt like I was corrupting a minor because she’s very young looking. I bought her a second drink and explained I had intended on getting Janet Reid drunk at Surrey, but she was missing in action so I was going to get her drunk. I hope she took it in the spirit it was intended.

We discussed a little about writing and the industry that night, but aside from me mentioning how one character came into being, I didn’t talk about my work.

Pretty much the same the third night.

Did I mention she is a truly beautiful woman?

Don’t let looks fool you. I got the impression she is also pretty hardcore about the industry. I had a chance to listen to her in the Idol workshop and she knows her business if anyone had any doubts going in. I didn’t because I had these opportunities to listen to her talk about how much she loves what she does. She is completely in love with reading, agenting and the publishing industry. She also loves New York.

A few tips I got from her.

1. Write what you love.

2. It is a bit easier for agents in New York, but there are other excellent agents out there who aren’t in New York.

3. Don’t try to chase trends.

4. She gets 250 queries a week and I was told she takes on about 8-10 new clients a year. Translation? There’s a lot of stiff competition out there. Send only your best.

5. Agents go to conferences looking for new talent.

6. Write tight. Make your words earn their way.

7. Don’t start off your story with back story or description. Make something happen soon.

8. If you go to a conference, relax and enjoy yourself.


  1. excellent, thx julie

    i just did a review of a book, one written by a nyt best seller, i’d not even heard of [i don’t get out much]… a brilliant writer, i found, but the story did not actually start until chapter 23!

  2. Julie,

    I have to second your comments. I talked to Rachel outside many times over the weekend and she was just incredibly nice.

    Since I’m nowhere close to being able to think about agents (which I told her), I had no problem at all just viewing her as a fellow smoker.

    If I ever do (which I WILL) finish a story, she will be at the top of my list for agents.

  3. Hmm. I confess that I didn’t have Ms. Vater on my “list”; because her Lit Agent X blog hasn’t been updated in six months or so, I figured that was a sign she was probably buried under a mountain of manuscripts. (Which she may be, at that.)

    Part of me, but only a vanishingly small part, wonders what it says about us (that’s the universal and not personal “us”) that bars are such great places to meet people.

    Mostly, though, I just thank God for bars [g].

  4. John,

    She’s been on my short list for a long time, but I did notice that about her live journal.

    It doesn’t really bother me as blogging can take a lot of time if you do it right.

    I would highly recommend her if you fit anywhere near her preferences. Wonderful woman and she’s very impressive.


  5. Gosh, Julie, how did I miss out on all these late night bar sessions?

    But I did get to speak to Rachael for a few minutes at the party, and of course I’ve observed and listened to her on panels and such. She’s a very smart, tough, but pleasant lady.

  6. Beth, I think one session was during the shock theater thing when I left early. She came over and sat next to me the first night. You had already gone to bed, I believe.

    I was really impressed with her friendliness. I almost feel like I came away with a new friend. It was rather shocking to see how tough she can be when I watched her on the panels. When I got the pitch appointment with her later, she was purely professional and had some very good advice. I do think I was right to put her on the top ten list even before I met her.

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