How to Find an Agent for Your Animal Writing

By Jason Boog Comment

searchrescue.jpgOver the last few years, library cats and journalists’ dogs have inspired a number of bestselling books. If you’re thinking about writing about your pet, keep reading–we interviewed an expert about the whole process.

Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was canine handler and author Susannah Charleson–talking about how she landed a book deal for her new book, Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog. Charleson explained how she turned her passion into a timely book about her Golden Retriever search and rescue partner, Puzzle (pictured, with the author).

Press play below to listen to the whole interview.

Charleson explained: “Animal writing is tremendously popular. Of course standout books have done extremely well commercially. There’s a huge readership that’s interested in our connection with animals. It’s a field ripe for searching and exploring, if you can pardon the metaphor.”

After the jump, Charleson told us how she found her agent, Jim Hornfischer.

She also revealed how she discovered animal writing: “In my particular case I was working on fiction, but at a conference, I read an essay I had written on search and rescue. Lee Child, the thriller author, was in the audience. At one point after the reading he pulled me aside and he said: ‘This is the way you should go. Go go go. You can write fiction whenever you want, but this is the way to go.’… So I put the fiction aside and really focused on writing a series of essays on my work in search and rescue”

Next, she outlined the pitching process at a writing conference: “I absolutely believe that it is critical to marshal your ideas and really know what you’re writing about. I believe you should do that and pitch every single chance you can get. I pitched to two agents [at another writing conference]. I had a one-page synopsis, and within a few minutes [Jim Hornfischer] said ‘I am really interested, I’d like to take a look at the full proposal.’ I sent the proposal off and a week later he contacted me and said, ‘I’d like to represent this.'”

Charleson concluded by outlining the long proposal revision process: “So [Hornfischer] worked very intensely with me for three months to get the proposal in the shape he thought would do very well in New York. It went to market in November 2007, right before Thanksgiving and it sold five days later. Because my agent is a writer and was an editor himself, he understood all 360-degrees of this process.”