Traditional Publishing

How I got a literary agent - An interview with author David C. Burton – Sunday January 30, 2005

David C. Burton recently acquired an agent using's database of literary agencies. We asked him about his writing, and how he found success.

fw:Congratulations in securing an agent to promote your book, David. What's your book called, and what's it about?

DCB: The title of the book is Fear Killer. It's about a timid, abused woman who is attacked in her home. She manages to kill the attacker. However, before he dies she sees the fear in his eyes. She has never made anyone afraid before and wants to do it again, and again, and again. An older female detective with her own problems is after her.

fw: That sounds like an interesting twist on the genre. How long did it take to write? Is it your first book?

DCB: No, I've had two other novels published, a mystery, Manmade for Murder in 1997 by Write Way Publishing, and a fantasy / adventure / horror novel,Hell Cop, in January 2004 by Silver Lake Publishing. It takes about a year to 18 months to write a book. I have a full time day job so that makes it a little hard sometimes.

I actually wrote Fear Killer quite a few years ago. I decided it was time to get serious and resurrect it and get it out there. Serial killers were popular in books at the time so I thought that women should have equal opportunity.

fw:If you've already had books published, what made you decide to try and get a literary agent?

DCB: There's not much money in publishing fiction with small presses. If I wanted to get serious about writing I needed access to the bigger publishers that don't accept unagented writers. So, I got serious about finding a real agent.

fw:Did you ever try to get a literary agent before?

DCB: I've had several agents before, none of whom did me any good. The ones I paid money to (not a lot of money, fortunately) promised the most and delivered the least. My advice to writers: don't pay reading fees, marketing fees or any other fees. Agents should earn their money by selling your work.

fw:Once you had subscribed to, how did you go about searching for the right agent for you?

DCB: I clicked on the list of agents who handle suspense / thriller books. Being able to narrow the list down to specific genres is a very handy feature. Saves a lot of time. Then I checked out every listing, every website. Any one that looked promising I noted what they wanted and how they wanted it from their website if possible. That's the latest info.

fw: Once you had found some suitable agents, how did you go about approaching them? One at a time? All at once? What kind of approach did you use?

DCB: I sent them exactly what they wanted. Query / query and synopsis / query, synopsis and chapters. I sent by email if I could, otherwise by snail mail. I sent whenever I was ready. I had the query all written out except for the name. When a possibility presented itself I could email them right away. Three or four a night sometimes.

fw:How much do you think having a previous publishing history with the small press helped you get an agent?

DCB: Apart from my two novels I've won a couple small screenwriting contests. I think it helps to have a publishing history, no matter how small it might be. But the quality of your query letter, and the quality of your writing and story are the most important.

fw:Did you receive a lot of rejections? How long did it take to be accepted by someone?

DCB: Lots of initial rejections. Over three or four months I got just three manuscript requests. One rejected the manuscript, one accepted it, one I never heard from again.

fw:Was there any particular feature of that helped you?

DCB: The agent listings seemed very complete. Being able to have a list of agents that handle what I write saves a ton of time rather than checking out listings that aren't interested in my type of work. The InstantAlert feature (where you get emails every time a listing is added or updated) is great, also.

fw:What next? What's happening now that you've got an agent? What are they doing for you? Is there a publisher or a sequel in the

DCB: The agent wanted a few edits and it's only been a week since I sent in the final draft. So, now it's a waiting game. I'm working on the next book in the Hell Cop series and thinking of a sequel to Fear Killer. It can't hurt to be prepared! The main thing I'm doing is writing and not giving up. Persistence pays.

fw: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, David; I'm sure your story will be an inspiration to many aspiring writers out there. Good luck with the books.

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For more details regarding David C. Burton's books visit and