Dear Ramona:

I started to speed-scan your story but by the time I hit the second page, I stopped and said to myself, “Hey, this is pretty good.” I then went back to the beginning and started reading, becoming increasingly impressed with your writing as I went along. Halfway through, I started envying you for having the talent to write such a piece. A little further along, I became irritated that I hadn’t written this thing myself. By the end I’d built up a considerable dislike for you, as I think Mark Twain himself would have done, because this story is about five times better and funnier than his “The Jumping Frog of Calaverous County,” and that’s the story that made him famous!

My tip regarding how to find an agent is true. My agent, however, is getting old and irascible, not necessarily because of me in either case, and is no longer accepting new clients, at least none that I recommend. So I can’t help you there.

You are a talented and funny writer. If I were you, I’d forget about finding an agent for now and concentrate on getting a syndicated column. As I recall, Erma Bombeck started by doing a column for a small weekly and rather quickly moved up to big-time syndication. You can find a list of syndicates in Writer’s Market, as you probably know. One of my writing students once did a series of articles on how she traveled through Europe on $5 a day (a bunch of lies) and sold the 5-part series to a syndicate, United Press as I recall.

You really don’t need an agent unless you have a book ready to go. If you specialize in humor you probably can’t get the book published unless you already have an audience, and you can’t get an audience unless your work gets published somewhere. Nothing in this writing business is easy. But it seems to me that right now there is a big gaping hole in newspapers for a syndicated woman humorist. Something to think about.

Good luck,

Pat McManus

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