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Mostly Serious Answers to Mostly Serious Questions About the Publishing Industry

Humorous, handy, and pairs well with a vodka martini!


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There is a certain perception from the outside that the publishing industry is a near insurmountable fortress, with gatekeepers and naysayers manning the turrets looking for any way to fire a flaming arrow at the dreams of an aspiring writer. Funny You Should Ask, based on the popular Writer's Digest column of the same name, assists to deconstruct, inform, and illuminate the path to publication and beyond, all while dispelling the rumor that those in the industry are better than thou.

And even though each writer's publishing journey is like a game of PLINKO—you can drop the chip in the same slot every time and get a different result—there are still common constructs and confusions that can be shared and explored together in order to help inform all writers. From understanding the nuts and bolts of a query letter, to learning how to process the soul-searing envy of watching someone else's career flourish, to how to talk to your editor, veteran literary agent Barbara Poelle covers the approach and execution of the common and uncommon bumps along the traditional publishing path.


  • More than 100 questions answered including expanded answers to topics that didn't get the full treatment in a column
  • Writing exercises, submission checklists, and publishing BINGO for every publishing milestone


Barbara Poelle began her publishing career as a freelance copywriter and editor before joining the Goodman Agency in 2007, but feels as if she truly prepared for the industry during her brief stint as a standup comic in Los Angeles. She has found success placing thrillers, literary suspense, Young Adult and upmarket fiction and is actively seeking her next great client in those genres, but is passionate about anything with a unique voice. Barbara is also the author of Funny You Should Ask: Mostly Serious Answers to Mostly Serious Questions About the Publishing Industry (Jan, 2020) based on her Writer's Digest column of the same name.


Please direct all media and speaking inquiries to Barbara's publicist, Dana Kaye, dana(at)kayepublicity(dot)com

Interested in representation? Send your query letter and first three pages to barbara.queries(at)irenegoodman(dot)com

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