Welcome to Living Word Literary Agency



In addition to agenting, I’m pleased to announce my full-time editorial and writing services are available through ReVision Editing Agency via http://www.revisioneditingagency.wordpress.com where you can find a list of services that I offer. I invite you to visit the website for more information, and I hope you will think of me for future editorial projects as someone who brings a diverse and unique background to the literary table.


It is the goal of Living Word to represent the works of authors dedicated to fulfilling God’s promise of purpose, hope, and healing. To bring new and talented writers to the attention of Publishers best suited to their heart and message. And to encourage and promote fledgling newcomers, building a strong foundation of integrity and respect through growing relationships within the publishing industry.   


Portfolio Pic1In April of 1997, Kimberly Shumate began her employment in the sales department of Harvest House Publishers as the assistant to the National Sales Manager as well as the International Sales Director. Within four years, she was hired into the editorial department steeped in the slush pile of would-be/trying-to-be/can’t-seem-to-be authors. Having been a screenwriter since 1995, a freelance article and book contributor, her ability to identify and polish the diamonds hidden within the coal mines of unsolicited submissions gives her an eye for talent and a heart for the underdog.


Having discovered numerous new authors for Harvest House with sales topping 750,000 copies, several of them have gone on to find success with various book deals, Christy nominations and awards, PW star ratings, and established themselves as the new voices within the CBA market in both fiction and non-fiction genres.


As a member of the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association), the ACFW  (American Christian Fiction Writers), advisory staff of George Fox University, the Willamette Writers, and 12 years of publishing experience, Kimberly is pleased to introduce Living Word Literary Agency where she will continue to pursue her passion for helping new and hungry authors find a home within the publishing community. 






Twitter: @livingwordliter

No phone calls, please.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)


“Do your best, and let God do the rest!”


Book Proposal Outline

Start by using the “Header/Footer” to include the book title, author name, and page # at the top of document.

Title:    Proposed title (and subtitle if nonfiction).

Author:  Name and complete contact info including telephone, email, web and/or blog sites.

Hook:  One/two sentence description that pulls the reader in.

Overview:  Nonfiction – what is this book about? Summarize its contents. What’s the takeaway value or felt-need addressed?

Synopsis: Fiction – One to two pages full story outline.

Purpose:  Nonfiction – you can use bullets to organize the specific goals of your book.

Promotion and Marketing:  Research stats/facts and any pertinent information that will help sell your idea to the agent/publisher. Ways that your book can be successfully marketed to its targeted audience. Avenues the author can promote the book: radio, television, magazine, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Competition:   What other books on this subject are currently in print or have been previously published?  Use bullets to include book title, author, publisher, and release date with a quick explanation of the book is needed. Try to find at least three comparable books.

Uniqueness:  What makes your book different than those you mentioned above?

Endorsements: List any established authors that will back your book with a written statement.  If none, then list a handful of authors that write books similar to your own.

Book Format:  Nonfiction – outline of how the text or information will be presented (if applicable).

Christian Theme:  Fiction – optional but appreciated by Christian agents and editors.  

Chapter Outline:  Give a short one or two paragraph blip on each chapter.

Intended Readers:  List by bullets the primary and secondary audiences.

Manuscript:  Establish that the MS is complete or how much is available. Include the book’s (estimated) word-count, and the amount of time needed to complete the work after signing book contract.

Author Bio: Include education, professional contacts, writing awards, etc.  Share experience in public speaker, and any websites or active blogs.     State why you’re the best person to write this book, and your connection to the subject.

Publishing Credits:  Previously published works, book contributions, magazine articles, etc.  Include book/article title, publisher/magazine, and release date.

Future Projects:   Fiction – give an overview of the series; title and short story synopsis.  Non-fiction – pitch upcoming projects; title/subtitle and short description

Simple Rules to Remember

Use 12 point, Times New Roman font

Keep margins 1 x 1 inch, and do not “justify” text

Proposals are single-spaced and written in third person; manuscripts are double-spaced

No heavy formatting or attachments such as pictures, clip art, etc.

Make clear who your audience is and the genre

With fiction it will be necessary to complete the manuscript before submitting to a publisher.  With non-fiction, credentials, platform, and/or a really good theme/felt-need will be required

Please don’t ask for a critique of your work if rejected

The following is a workshop I taught at the Northwest Christian Writers Conference held May 17 – 18th, 2013. (Please excuse the format).


How to WOW an Agent!

Kimberly Shumate – Living Word Literary Agency


Know your audience – who are you writing for?

Research the agency and the genres it represents.

Write cover letter in 1st person and the proposal in 3rd person.

Read agency submission guidelines to send exactly what they want:  A query letter, short synopsis, and one sample chapter is safe.

  • Sending inappropriate material is never appreciated.
  • Organize your material – know what you’re selling: (35,000 words isn’t a novel; it’s a novella).
  • Don’t send partial book ideas:   “I’ve started writing this novel about…” or “I have a great idea for a bible study…”

Agents/Editors need …

  • Confidence that you are able to sustain the quality of writing throughout the entire manuscript.
  • Certainty that you can meet editorial deadlines.

Note: An excellent book marketing resource is Sell Your Book Like Wildfire by Rob Eager (2012).  Social Media is so important—Facebook, Twitter, or even a QR code that takes the reader to a dynamic destination such as an active blog, a video, an audio or book trailer… not to the author’s static website.


Put something—preferably the book title—in the email subject line. Don’t leave it empty.

Query letters should begin with courtesies.

Cutting & pasting your synopsis to the email w/out introducing yourself is too impersonal.

Spell the agent’s name correctly, and be careful when sending multiple submissions – change agent’s name/contact info.

Don’t assume that the agent is male (or female) – “Dear Sir/Madame” is fine.

Never ask for a critique from an agent if rejected – that’s what your critique group is for.

Be professional but also be a person.

It’s easy to lose your warmth and accessibility trying to impress.

Use your first name in correspondence, not your initials.

    • Allow the agent the courtesy of knowing if you’re male or female.
    • Don’t bury your contact information within the email or proposal.

Send only one follow-up email regarding each submission

    • With an agent, give it a month.
    • With a editor/publisher, wait 3 months before following up.

Do not request a confirmation of material deletion.

    • This screams “Rookie!” It’s up to you to copyright/protect your material.
    • You won’t win over anyone by questioning their integrity.


Header for title / author name (10 point font and 0.3 top margin) = “Insert” tab in Tool Bar

View or Insert / Header / Edit Header / Position – 0.3

Page Number / Bottom Left / Format Page # start at 0

Under “Edit Header” choose “Different First Page.” That will erase the title, author name, and page number from the cover letter and begin it on the second page (proposal) starting with page #1

The above instructions will allow your cover letter to be free of header and page number while beginnig your proposal with header (which should include book title and author name) and the page number to start at 1.

Watch your margins throughout the proposal.

  • Cut & Paste can affect the continuity of the submission.
  • Margins should remain at 1 x 1 inches throughout the document.

Use 12 point Times New Roman font.

  • Any bigger or smaller can be a nuisance.
  • Send Word documents only – agent may want to manipulate the text.
    • No PDF / Adobe files.
    • Avoid heavy formatting that includes photos, clips art, etc.


Submit polished, edited work.

    • Disengage the “edit” feature before submitting.
    • Use bold, italicized, and justified text sparingly.

Originality is key.

    • With nothing new under the sun, agents rely on your creativity and unique voice to make the material fresh and relevant.

“Show, don’t tell” rule is in force.

    • Reveal information through action and not narration.

Manuscript content should stand up to established authors.

Clichés are a direct reflection of your lack of originality and experience.

Cliché me, cliché me not….

Debbie bit down on her lower lip as she swallowed the lump in her throat. Her brows furrowed and a chill ran down her spine as she read her boyfriend’s breakup text again. Letting out a heavy sigh, she felt cheated. It’s not over till the fat lady sings, she thought optimistically. But who was she kidding? “No, I’ll do the right thing.” She would forgive and forget.  After all, it was water under the bridge, and time to turn over a new leaf. She clucked her tongue and chirped aloud, “No use crying over spilled milk.”


Always submit electronically.

Use discretion in everything.

    • Think twice before using social media to voice concerns or doubts about an agent/editor.
    • Facebook can be a blessing and a curse – watch what you post.
    • Don’t get too personal with your pitch – stay focused and economical with your words.

Agents receive submissions from all over the world – you are writing in your first language. No excuses.


  • Proofread your work five days later.
  • Use an insanely original title—it’s the first thing an agent/editor or even consumer will read.
  • Title search on Amazon, B&N, Bowker’s Books In Print, and Christian Books In Print.
  • Query first (one project at a time), and submit proposal when invited.
  • Refer to any previous correspondence or conversations in follow-up emails.
  • Assume that the publisher tracks all unsolicited material—submit one project per editor.
  • Offer personal web or blog site information.
  • Try to find an established author to endorse your book.
  • Keep a hardcopy or electronic file of what you submit—agent, publisher, book title, date sent.
  • Sign with an agent who believes in you and gets the bigger picture of where you want to go.
  • Keep your fiction character-driven and the clichés to a minimum.
  • Create a cover letter that is concise, articulate (non-cerebral), and intriguing.
  • Attach a thorough book proposal (see template) and sample material.

Query and Cover Letter Formula

Query Letter is an introduction: Consists of a cordial greeting, book title, genre, word count, and the “hook.” Don’t forget to include a short author bio for nonfiction submissions. That’s it! [email]

Cover Letter accompanies a proposal:  Begin with the “hook” first – either a question or an intriguing sentence to pique the agent/editor’s interest. Introduce the book title and the genre.

  • Target Audience and market demand—what makes your book different/special than the ones similar to it already in print.
  • Nonfiction – talk about your platform, i.e. the authority you have to write on the topic.
  • Fiction – share your connections to let the agent know you have ample opportunities to sell your book.
  • Mention previous works you’ve had published including magazine/web articles, blogs and visitor frequency, book contributions, book projects, and also any writers groups or contests you’ve been involved with.
  • End your cover letter with a sincere “thank you for taking the time to have a look,” and attach the proposal via Word doc.

Follow-up with an email one month after the proposal was received by the agent. If you press for an answer, it will be no; however, many agents do not respond if they are not interested in the project.

Book Proposal Outline

Covered in previous blog entry (see above)


  • Tell a publisher that you have a New York Times Bestseller on your hands—be humble.
  • Hand write anything unless absolutely necessary—neatness does count.
  • Submit a concept—written sample material is needed to assess your skills.
  • Address your proposal to the “President” of the company.
  • Phone the publisher or agency without initial contact (writer’s conf., email, etc.).
  • Compare your book with one already in print by that publisher; competing material.
  • Use an editor’s name unless you are absolutely sure it is correct.
  • Type in all CAPS! No one likes being yelled at.
  • Send disks or CD’s; there’s too many viruses out there—electronic submission only.
  • Assume the publisher will use artwork or photos you include with your MS.
  • Send the first draft of anything—remember, there’s no getting it back.
  • Merely send a web link to your work—it looks lazy.
  • Email a laundry list of projects you’re working on.
  • Lose your cool with an agent; you’ll shoot yourself in the foot trying to get it in the door.
  • Expect quick results—reviews require from 3 – 12 months depending on agent or editor.
  • Send more than 50 sample pages initially—this is entirely adequate to make a decision.
  • Don’t lose hope—every publisher has their own goals and objectives for their program.
  • Don’t pose the following questions in initial. correspondence—it’s too presumptuous:

Concerns regarding book title, cover/artwork, royalties, publicity, author advance, book price, and other topics that jump the gun.


Book title.

Emphasis on a word or thought.

Inner dialogue.

Continue to

Hone your skills by taking classes or joining a critique group.

Read New York Times & Publisher’s Weekly to keep up with industry trends.

Check ECPA.org for Top 50 Christian Bestsellers.

Pay attention to the culture and its relevancy to what you’re writing.

Build your personal library of books on writing (email me for a list).

Think of fresh, original ways to tell your story or deliver information.

Punctuation & grammar is important, so know your stuff.

Attend at least one writer’s conference each year.

Feed your enthusiasm by conversing with like minds.

Read the kind of books you want to write, and glean from those who have succeeded.

Consider starting with writing magazine articles or blogging—it’s a great way to build a platform.

Carve out time in your schedule to write consistently; all the best writers do.

Keep at it as long as you believe you are called to write and you enjoy doing it.

Personal Pet Peeves:

Slow starts

Agenda-driven plots

Sentences ending with!!!

Predictable dialogue

Typos and misspellings

Too many sentences beginning with He, She, or I

Cliché laden text

Overuse of one or more words

Exaggerated characters/over-the-top physicality

Too much “telling” and not “showing”

Visible “cc” email addresses

Excessively long sentences & paragraphs

Final thoughts:

If you suspect you’re using a word or words repetitively, do a search w/ “Ctrl + F”, and “highlight all”.

If you tell me you’re a published author, I will Amazon.com you!

29 Responses to “Welcome to Living Word Literary Agency”

  1. Linda F. Williams, MSW Says:

    What a team! Just took a minute to read through the specialized experience represented and . . . wow is all I can say! ECPA refers us neophytes to resources, among which you are listed.

    I got a very good vibe from your team; so I threw my hat in the proverbial ring! I’ve been working on the manuscript for 7 years and couldn’t get over the initial shock at being finished!

    Wish me good success! Thank you for an opportunity we new authors might never have absent your mission!

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    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

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    then my contacts will too.

  7. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out
    and say I really enjoy reading through your blog posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the
    same subjects? Thanks!

  8. Hi! I simply want to offer you a big thumbs up for your great info you’ve got right here on this post. I am returning to your site for more soon.

  9. livingwordliterary Says:

    Thanks so much to everyone who has found the information here of help. That’s my main goal… to make your literary goals and dreams become a reality. Your encouragement in my pursuit is appreciated more than you know.



  10. Great tips here, I definitely share some of your pet peeves!

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  12. Good day! I simply would like to give you a big thumbs up for the great information you’ve got here on this post. I am returning to your blog for more soon.

  13. Angela D. Hufford Says:

    Best freakin’ website on the internet when it comes to solid literary advice. You’re a ROCK STAR Kimberly Shumate! 🙂

    • livingwordliterary Says:

      Thanks so much for all of the appreciation! So glad the information on the site is of help to you.


  14. There is definately a great deal to find out about
    this topic. I reaally like all of the points you made.

  15. I suppose I’ll be the first 2014 comment. Fantastic read. What an overload of much needed information! Thanks I’ll hope to put all this to good use. (I made sure not to use any cliché’s or “!!!” in my comment here)

    • livingwordliterary Says:

      Thanks for those kind words, Marshal. I trust you’ll move forward this year to find all of the success that your dreams can imagine.


  16. Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve be mindful your stuff previous to and
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  18. Hi Kimberly, as an Aussie looking for a wider market, I really appreciate your clear presentation of the exact needs for your agency. As I have a completed historical romance, I shall work on my query and finish the proposal should it be required.

  19. jackielayton Says:

    Thanks so much for the detailed list of what you’d like to see in a query. It’s great to know what you look for.

    Have a great weekend!

  20. livingwordliterary Says:

    I want to thank everyone who follows and supports this blog/website. It’s all for you, and it’s great to know that my passion is shared by so many creative writers out there. Never give up the dream! Keep pressing on, and remember that God has a very special plan for those gifts He placed within you.

    In your corner,


  21. extremely helpful I wish i would have looked this up before I self published my first book, lots of insight thanks for taking the time to write all this information down for aspiring authors.

  22. Amazed, that’s what I am; Love every word you have written. I finished 20 paper submissions today. You saved me my postage and the receivers waste baskets have more room. One question I ask myself however, what am I doing here. I am 83 years old. So I am just kidding, but not about my age. May you be blessed with a huge pot at the end of your rainbow.

    • livingwordliterary Says:

      One of the nicest responses to this site I’ve ever received.

      Thank you, Ferdinand!

      P.S. You’re never too old!

  23. Excellent advice worthy of a submission.
    And how considerate to give an initial decision within a week, which makes the request for not making simultaneous submissions most reasonable. Those that request this and expect prospective authors to wait paralysed for 2 or 3 months are not so reasonable.
    Thank you.

  24. This is the most thorough sound work that I have come across in my research over the last year. Thank you for the resources.

  25. Shelia Shook Says:

    It’s exciting to see an agent willing to help newbies. Such clear guidelines are exceptional. Thank you for your mission. God bless you and those you help…I’m one.

  26. Hey I am so grateful I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake, while I was searching on Aol for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the superb work.|

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