Guest Post—Adria Goetz “My 5 in 5 Rule for Evaluating Submissions”

As an agent, I spend a lot of time reading and evaluating the projects that show up in my inbox. Most of the submissions I receive are good—a lot of them even great—but I don’t have the capacity to say yes to everything. So I’ve developed a series of tools I can use to evaluate a project. One of the tools I utilize is called a “5 in 5 Rule.” This is particularly effective when approaching novel submissions.

My 5 in 5 Rule: If I can’t instantly think of 5 editors I’d send the project to within reading 5 chapters of the manuscript, I pass.

There’s so much “throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks” in publishing. And though I’m guilty of spastically throwing just as much spaghetti as the next agent, I’m striving to—more and more—send out tighter submission lists that are as personal and specific as possible. I want to find the right wall for the right spaghetti. Some editors are brick walls, some are paneled walls; some like whole-grain spaghetti, others prefer gluten free. Okay, this analogy is falling apart. But you know what I mean—hopefully. (Also: is anyone else craving carbs right now? Just me?)

I also use this 5 in 5 Rule because I only want to take on projects if I think I can be the best advocate possible for a writer. Sometimes this means I pass on great writing. I did recently, in fact. And likely I will again soon. But if I don’t have the right set of contacts for a project, I could be setting up the writer—and myself—for failure or disappointment. You want an agent who is not only enthusiastic about your work but knows exactly which editors will have that same enthusiasm.

I know that a pass from an agent can sting like crazy. But remember, there is nuance to these decisions. And when one agent sends a rejection, there may be another one out there who’s just brimming with possibilities for you and your project.



Prior to beco27024121_10155402205773230_1021693440946990922_oming a Literary Manager, Adria fostered her knack for developing creative work during her three years as an intern and assistant at Martin Literary & Media Management with Sharlene Martin and Clelia Gore.

Adria is a 2016 graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, a six-week intensive course on all aspects of book, magazine, and digital media publishing. She is a graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle with a B.A. in English with a creative writing emphasis. Adria also worked for Washington’s Pierce County Library System for two years.

Adria accepts queries for picture books, middle grade, young adult, as well as Lifestyle books, quirky gift books, Christian Living titles, devotionals, and everything else under the Christian umbrella.

Adria lives in an old Victorian home in the Seattle area (which she hopes dearly is haunted with a few friendly ghosts) with her husband Alex and their two darling kittens, Maple and Mulberry.

To learn more about Adria and what she is looking for, check out her wish list. She tweets at @AdriaMGoetz.