Kate Walker | Content Assistant | Jericho Writers

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Good morning, everyone! 


Today’s feature includes a fantastic interview with Katie Fulford! 


Katie is a literary agent with Bell Lomax Moreton. Prior to this, she spent 25 years working at HarperCollins in a variety of publishing and rights management roles. She represents both fiction and non-fiction across a wide range of genres, but is especially interested in narrative non-fiction, compelling thrillers, sweeping love stories and witty rom coms. 


Some of the authors Katie represents include Patrick Galbraith (In Search of One Last Song, published April 2022), Katy Cox (M is for Mummy, published May 2022) and Sarah Yarwood-Lovett (A Murder of Crows, coming July 2022). 


Katie is active on Twitter where you can learn more about her and her dog, Juno. She also does Agent One-to-One sessions with Jericho Writers, so don’t miss out on a chance to get her feedback on your work by booking your session here


Check out some highlights from our interview with Katie below.


 



image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=713&dpx=1&t=1653318541Katie Fulford


“Keep going, I know it’s extremely tough but you only need one person to love your work.” 



Hello Katie, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what your role entails, what you’re looking for in submissions, and advice for querying authors. 


Q. What brought you to agenting? 


Earlier in my career I was the Rights Director at HarperCollins. I had always enjoyed the thrill of putting author and publisher together and it was something I had always wanted to do, but other roles at HarperCollins got in the way first. I’m so happy to be agenting now, having had so much prior publishing experience. 


Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list?  


There are many things on my wish list but a super smart thriller along the lines of Renée Knight or Gillian Flynn would be one. I am drawn to sweeping love stories with epic settings as well as witty and original rom coms with a clever new hook. Yes, that’s quite a few things. I’m sure there are others as well. 



Q. What’s at the top of your non-fiction wish-list? 


I love narrative non-fiction and get sent quite a lot of memoirs, but they can be hard to make work now so I would say a memoir with a twist – maybe a campaigning angle or written with an expert for a more practical bent. Or a story that’s not been told before. 


Q. Is there any genre you’d rather not receive?  


Sci-fi and horror is not for me. I’m sure it’s wonderful but it’s just not an area I read so I’m not qualified to comment. My brilliant colleague John Baker is THE expert on all things sci-fi and horror though. 


Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you? 


Busy!! Firstly there really is no such thing as ‘a day in the life’ – every day is different. It’s also one of those jobs like publicity in publishing that you can NEVER say you have finished. There’s always something else you can be doing. Another person to reach out to. Another submission to read. Another email to send. So it’s definitely not a job for someone that likes an empty to do list at the end of the day.  


Q. What do you want to see in a query letter? And what do you hate? 


I want to see that the author has thought about why I might be the right agent for them – so they have read about what I am looking for or have an idea of what I may like. Then it’s really useful to have comparisons, so I can understand the positioning of the book in relation to the marketplace. After that it’s good to know a bit about the author – it’s not necessary to have writing experience, but if you have, I’d like to know about it. It’s safe to say there is nothing I hate on a query letter – they are difficult things to write and I’m relaxed about it. If the work is good enough then hopefully, I will be able to see that.  


Q. What are you looking for in the opening pages of a novel? What really excites you? 


Something unusual that draws me into the characters, setting, or time, which makes me not want to put the book down or leave these characters… 


Q. What are some of your favourite authors and books? 


I have so many but the books that I think about most often at the moment are Notes On An Execution by Danya Kukafka and The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré.. Both extraordinary, original and beautifully written books that stay with you. 


Q. What interests or passions do you have beyond the world of books? What do you love? 


I love playing and watching sport (my household are Arsenal fans which can be extremely stressful). Otherwise walking my dog Juno in the countryside near my home. 


Q. Any final words of advice for authors in the querying process?  


Keep going, I know it’s extremely tough but you only need one person to love your work.  
 


The full interview can be found soon on Katie’s AgentMatch profile.


 



In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review


 


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Good morning, everyone!

Today I’m excited to share a wonderful interview with Anne C. Perry!

Anne is a literary agent at Ki Agency. Prior to this she spent 10 years as an editor, and founded a small press and a literary prize. She works with both fiction and non-fiction and will consider any genre within these. At the moment she is especially interested in action-romance, popular science, natural history, and nature/memoir writing by women and writers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Anne is active on twitter and always sharing what she’s looking for in submissions or in pitches. She’s looking for action, adventure, explosions, emotionally honest love stories, and fun. She also loves a happy ending.

Anne does Agent One-to-One sessions at Jericho Writers and has sessions in June. If you think Anne would be interested in your work, or you’d love to get an agent’s feedback on your submission pack, then be sure to book in for your one-to-one here.

 

Check out some highlights from our interview with Anne below.

 


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=711&dpx=1&t=1652105338Anne C. Perry

“Please don't give up, and if you find that a book isn't working with agents, don't take it to heart. Move on to the next project and keep at it!”

 

 Good morning Anne, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We can't wait to find out more about what you're looking for in submissions and about your role as an agent!


Q. What brought you to agenting?

I was an editor for about a decade before I became an agent. I wanted to be able to spend more time working directly with authors and helping to bring their worlds to life.

 

Q. What's at the top of your fiction wish-list?

I'm looking for rom-coms, and more romance (in any genre!), especially with an action element. I love humour and am always on the look-out for witty banter.

 

Q. What's at the top of your non-fiction wish-list?

Nature writing from underrepresented voices! I want to be swept away by the author's deep love for their subject.

 

Q. Is there any genre you'd rather not receive?

I'm not the right agent for military science fiction! Super intense literary fiction is also not right for me; I'm very commercial.

 

Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

I start answering email between 8 and 9 am; I spend my day alternating between email, reading submissions, following up with clients and publishers, and reading/editing drafts of works in progress for my current clients. I also do quite a lot of "outside" reading, as well -- gotta keep up with the trends! -- and bookstore browsing, pandemics permitting.

 

Q. What do you want to see in a query letter? And what do you hate?

I love that extra bit of time an energy a querying author uses to personalise their letter to me. It doesn't have to be much, even just a line like "I love the 1999 Mansfield Park too!" -- but it makes a difference. I work hard to introduce myself online; I've got full profiles in two different places on my agency website, and a long profile on Manuscript Wish List, as well as a Twitter account. So it's not hard to learn about me.

I don't love having my name misspelled, and every so often I receive query letters addressed to different agents, which: yikes. Please double-check before hitting send!

 

Q. What interests or passions do you have beyond the world of books? What do you love?

I'm an amateur fossil-hunter. I also love cinema and really, really miss going to the movies -- the last film I saw on the big screen was The Meg. (I regret nothing.)

 

Q. Any final words of advice for authors in the querying process?

It's a long, slow and agonising process. Please don't give up, and if you find that a book isn't working with agents, don't take it to heart. Move on to the next project and keep at it!

 


The full interview can be found on Anne’s AgentMatch profile.

 



In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

 

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Good morning, everyone!

Today I’m excited to share an exciting interview with Rachel Beck!

Rachel Beck is a literary agent at the US based Liza Dawson Associates. She has been in the publishing industry since 2009 and worked at Harlequin editing romance novels for nearly 6 years before transitioning her skills to the agent world in order to be an advocate and champion for authors.

Rachel believes that the right book can change or heal a life, and she wants to find those. But she’s also interested in lighter fiction that helps you escape or simply makes you laugh after a tough day. Or nonfiction that teaches you something about an obscure topic, thus opening up a new world.

Rachel does Agent One-to-One sessions at Jericho Writers and has sessions in May. If you think Rachel would be interested in your work, or you’d love to get an agent’s feedback on your submission pack, then be sure to book in for your one-to-one here.


Check out some highlights from our interview with Rachel below.

 



image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=702&dpx=1&t=1650917293Rachel Beck

“It’s about being partners in the whole process, having strong collaboration, communication, and trust.”

 

Good afternoon Rachel, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what you’re looking for in submissions, and more about your role as an agent.

 

Q. What brought you to agenting? 

I started my career in publishing on the agenting side as an intern for two literary agencies in New York City in 2009, and then I got hired as an editor for Harlequin Books. I edited books for almost six years, but I found that I wanted to work on a broader variety of books. When you're an editor and you work for a publisher, you're kind of restricted to what they publish in terms of what you can work on. So I was drawn to agenting because of the flexibility with being able to take on anything you’re interested in; fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, adult books. I really liked the variety and options available as an agent. 

 

Q. What is your favourite thing about being an agent? 

I would say that's pretty easy to answer. For me it's my relationships with my authors and just feeling like their biggest champion and supporter and advocate. I sign them up as a client because I fall in love with their words, and then I build a relationship with them to try and get their books published and into the hands of readers. It's just so rewarding and fulfilling, and I have so many authors that I consider dear friends. 

 

Q. What is at the top of your fiction wish list? What are you really looking for at the moment? 

I'm definitely on the hunt for a really strong upmarket book club fiction, something that would be likely to be picked for Reese's Book Club or GMA Book Club. Something with really interesting depths and themes that touch on what we’re facing in the world today, or on a lighter note, a feel-good romantic comedy with heart. Something that speaks to readers and something they can escape into for a few hours to block out the noise of the world. 

 

Q. What are you looking for in non-fiction? 

I’ve always found, with non-fiction, that the project finds me rather than that I put out what I’m looking for. I’ve signed books I never thought I’d work on, like some really interesting business books.  

I would say that I’ve been on the hunt for a book on athletes, sports, marathon runners and triathletes, or extreme sports. Not necessarily memoir but something that looks into the psychology behind the athletic drive. 

 

Q. Are there any genres of themes that you don’t work with? 

I don't really do sci-fi, horror, epic or high fantasy (although I will accept light fantasy in young adult), poetry, or short stories. The youngest I’ll work with is YA, so no children’s books, picture books, or MG. In terms of themes I’m pretty open, just nothing too violent. 

 

Q. What is an average day like for you as an agent? 

A lot of it is emailing with authors and brainstorming with them, talking about their next project. If there’s a book in progress I will be emailing the editor, publisher, the publicity team, or the marketing folks. Dealing with miscellaneous things that come up in the life cycle of both production and editing. I do a full edit on every client manuscript that I send out to editors. Then there’s putting together a pitch letter for when I submit to editors and putting together editor lists for a particular project. I spend time scanning databases of publishers and editors and seeing who’s published books recently that are similar to this project that might be interested in taking a look at my client’s manuscript. I spend a lot of time reading through the submissions inbox and through all my partial requests and full requests. Updating records, keeping notes on current projects. I have meetings with editors and internal agency meetings where we check in every other week. I spend a lot of time as a middleman, communicating with authors, publishers, publicity and sales teams, fielding requests and dealing with any issues. It’s never the same from one day to the next which is really nice because I get that variety.  

 

Q. What would you say makes for a successful author-agent relationship? How can both parties get the most out of that relationship? 

Communication is key. I really like authors to be over communicative rather than under communicative; I want them to feel comfortable emailing me or calling me or reaching out at any time with any questions. Trust is important too. I trust them to work hard and write a really strong book, they trust me to have their book’s best interest at heart and their best interests as an author and that I know the market and have the expertise. It’s about being partners in the whole process, having strong collaboration, communication, and trust.  

 

Q. Are you able to tell us about any recent deals?  

Today (22/3/22) is actually release day for one of my favourite nonfiction projects I've taken on. The author is Britt Frank and she is a therapist who has written a book called The Science of Stuck. It looks into why we can’t move forward with certain aspects of our life that we feel we should be able to, like losing weight, career changes, getting things in order. The book focuses on really ground-breaking research and how people are not lazy or unmotivated, and she really gets into trauma, and healing. I think it’s a really important book for these times when we’ve been in a pandemic for two years and people are feeling stuck. 

 

Q. What are some of your favourite authors and books? 

One of my favourite authors that I go back to all the time is Emily Giffin. She writes women’s fiction and always has a really interesting premise and explores and asks a lot of questions and has really interesting characters. 

I also really like Jennifer Weiner, and Diane Chamberlain. They are in the same genre of women's fiction, focusing on women figuring out life and dealing with issues that we all face. They’re very relatable. And then on a lighter note, I really like Kristan Higgins. I laugh out loud every time I read any of her books, she's just so funny and she can make you go from laughing to crying in a second, there's just so much heart in her books.  

I also love domestic suspense. I love B.A. Paris, Kimberly Belle, Heather Gudenkauf, Mary Kubica, Chevy Stevens. I'll pretty much read any domestic suspense author. 

 

Q. Do you have any final words of advice for authors who are in the querying process? 

My first piece of advice is definitely to keep at it and keep persisting, because you can get so many rejections before you get a yes and it’s important to know that you shouldn’t take it personally. You just have to keep going and keep at it, you only need one yes. And if you’re seeing the same sort of feedback over and over in your rejections you might want to take a look and apply that advice. Maybe take a writing course or pick up some books on writing. It’s hard to teach how to write but there are definitely resources and takeaways that you can use to improve your writing.  

My second piece of advice is to read, read, read. Read the authors that you want to be like, authors that are in the same genre that you see yourself in and apply what they do. Take what makes their books so good to you and apply that to your own. 

 


The full interview can be found on Rachel’s AgentMatch profile.




In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

 

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Good morning, everyone!

Today I’m excited to share a wonderful interview with Camilla Bolton!

Camilla is a senior agent at the Darley Anderson Agency. She represents a number of bestseller and critically acclaimed authors, and in 2013 was named as a Publishing Rising Star by The Bookseller.

Camilla primarily loves and represents crime, thriller, suspense, and women’s fiction, but there’s no fiction genre she won’t look at. She loves working editorially with authors and is looking for new talent.

 

Check out some highlights from our interview with Camilla below.

 



image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=700&dpx=1&t=1649760480Camilla Bolton

“Be focused on what your aims are, who you’d love to represent you and keep going.”


Good afternoon Camilla, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what you’re looking for in submissions, and more about your role as an agent.

 

Q. What brought you to agenting?

I was very lucky, the Agency was looking for someone to do admin a day a week and I saw the advert and applied. From there I quickly went up to two days a week and within three months was full time and reading the crime thriller submissions. My only ‘qualification’ was that I loved commercial crime thriller mystery fiction. I’d grown up reading Lee Child, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham and the key to Agenting really is knowing what readers love and trusting your instincts on this.

 

Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list?

I love character and voice. This is always key and then that big hook. So really anything with these elements I’d love. In regards to plot, for over ten years I was looking for a sliding doors thriller but there have been a few of these now – although I’d definitely still love to read these – and I love escapist thrillers where we are taken out of our ‘norm’ and thrown on a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns. Basically any story where your first instinct is to tell all your friends that they have to read this book!

 

Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

Every day is different, which is amazing. I can go from talking to an author, to editing, to negotiating, to talking to a publisher. It is a lot of reading and chatting, so really I have a dream job.

 

Q. What do you want to see in a query letter? And what do you hate?

 For me that story pitch or hook is key. I always think query letters need to be thought of as the back of a book blurb; how can authors grab an Agent’s attention? It’s also really good to know a bit about the author; their background, what they love, the books and authors they love reading. Most of all though I want to just get to the chapters and start reading.

In regards to what I hate, I wouldn’t say anything really, just be friendly, honest and make sure your chapters are 100% ready to send to Agents.

 

Q. Same question when it comes to the synopsis. What should writers do? What should they avoid?

I actually don’t like synopsis if they have spoilers in them. I always approach them with caution as I hate knowing what is going to happen. So what I suggest it writers do a short synopsis with no spoilers, and then a longer one with ‘Spoilers!’ warning at the top.

 

Q. What are you looking for in the opening pages of a novel? What really excites you?

A gripping authentic character, a fully immersive set up that makes me instantly sit up or be surprised. For me, the key is as a reader feeling like we’re instantly part of the scene and feeling and reacting as the protagonist is.

 

Q. What makes for a successful author-agent relationship? How can both parties get the most out of the relationship?

I think the key is trust and knowing you are a team. Authors will face highs and lows in their careers and it’s such a close working relationship between author and agent, both sides need to know that they are both 100% in it for the long-term and through the huge successes but also any setbacks.

In regards to how both parties get the most out of it, I think it’s like any relationship and that’s being honest and understanding and patient. When an author is looking for an Agent they need to make sure they go with their gut instinct. There are so many brilliant successful agents, so it’s finding the right fit personality wise.

 

Q. What’s your favourite thing about being an agent?

The people and their incredible characters and books. I do also love being ambitious for my authors and never giving up on their ambitions for themselves.

 

 Q. Any final words of advice for authors in the querying process?

Be focused on what your aims are, who you’d love to represent you and keep going. So many of the huge selling authors had a big struggle at the beginning of their careers and this is a brilliant thing to just remember when it feels like you are getting a lot of passes and no big breaks.

 

The full interview can be found on Camilla’s AgentMatch profile.

 



In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

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Good morning, everyone!

Today I’m thrilled to share a wonderful interview with Devon Halliday!

Devon is a literary agent with Transatlantic Agency in Canada. She loves working editorially with her clients and enjoys seeing manuscripts through from their early form to the final product. Prior to this she worked as a literary agent at Susanna Lea Associates and as a scouting assistant at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

Devon represents a diverse range of authors in genres including fiction (literary, speculative, psychological suspense, upmarket, short stories, graphic) and non-fiction (journalistic, research-based, memoir, essay collections, illustrated).

 

Check out some highlights from our interview with Devon below.

 


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=698&dpx=1&t=1648547993Devon Halliday

“You have to enjoy the craft of writing in order to have stamina in this business. As long as you are continually exploring revisions, thinking about new projects, and looking ahead instead of behind, you’re doing the right thing.”

 

Good afternoon Devon, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what you’re looking for in submissions, and more about your role as an agent.

 

 Q. What brought you to agenting?

I first came to agenting out of a love of editing. I knew that I wanted to work with writers, and I ended up interning at a few literary agencies, where I found that I was able to do some really in-depth and exciting editorial work. As an agent, you first see a manuscript in its roughest original form, and you try to tease out the full potential of the story and help direct it towards its final form. I loved the chance to work on both structural and highly specific edits, and I’ve stayed with agenting ever since.

 

Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

It’s always changing, as I’m sure many agents can attest to. My day is fairly email-driven, so I’ll often wake up in the morning with an idea of what I want to accomplish and what I’m going to do that day—and then I check my inbox and see that five new things have come in that I need to deal with and my whole plan changes. It’s a very reactive role, keeping on top of my own priorities while also making sure to put out any fires that happen to flare up. A large part of my job is editorial work with clients as we prepare to go on submission, so I always have a digital stack of manuscripts to read and send notes on. I try to find a quiet time in the day when I can focus on reading. And of course there are always meetings, both internal and external; internal meetings with my colleagues where we’ll troubleshoot or discuss the state of the market, and external meetings with editors and current and potential clients. So the average day is a bit of a back-and-forth negotiation between emails, meetings, and reading—all while I try to chip away at my original plan for the day!

 

Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list? What authors do you love? What kind of books?

For me writing is the most important criterion, and I always look at the writing first for an original style, an original voice, and a writer with original things to say, with some urgency to them – some way of seeing the world that begs to be communicated. So as long as that’s present, I’m happy to work with almost any genre.

Genres I gravitate towards include the more straightforward contemporary literary fiction. I also like anything with a speculative element or twist to it, not hard-core sci-fi or fantasy, but always magical realism, layered timelines or meta elements, anything with a near-future aesthetic. I enjoy stories that are psychological and philosophical in their interpretations of the world. That can be psychological suspense, if it looks more broadly at the way our world functions – though nothing too gory or horror-driven for me. I also really enjoy more light-hearted upmarket women’s fiction and rom-coms with a great twist (especially a speculative twist). Always, I’m looking for diverse voices and perspectives, from authors who can bring new worlds and realities to readers.

 

Q. What do you love when it comes to non-fiction? What topics fire you up? Which genres leave you cold?

My taste in non-fiction is a little more niche. I love very particular deep dives into subjects that I might not be so familiar with, but the writer is passionate about the subject and can articulate its greater relevance. Anything that can capture our modern lives and all the social and cultural complications and fault lines. Lately I’ve been especially interested in anything dealing with technology, the information age, social media, gaming, fandom, communities - all these social spaces that the internet has enabled. I’m fascinated by the way cultures are emerging online, and I would love to see work that takes a more anthropological look at digital culture. I’m also interested generally in esoteric but fascinating subjects, anything unique and offbeat.

 

Q. Is there any genre you’d rather not receive?

Sometimes I’ll claim disinterest in a certain genre, and then immediately a book turns up in that genre that I happen to love—so my genre preferences aren’t necessarily set in stone. I’m very rarely a fit for action, gore, horror, thriller. I’m also not a great fit for very commercial fiction that’s extremely plot-driven; I’m a writing obsessive, and I always look for great layers and depth in a cast of characters.

On the nonfiction side, I’m probably not the right person for serious, big-picture works on politics and history; I just don’t have the background to be able to edit those with the necessary precision. I tend not to be a great fit for memoir, unless it has a research-backed societal critique to it.

 

Q. What are you looking for in the opening pages of a novel? What really excites you and makes you ask to see more?

I’m always looking to be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes I read a query and I can tell right away that it’s not a fit for me. Other times I’m reading along and the writer hasn’t made any mistakes, the story is holding together, the writing is solid, but I’m not feeling totally hooked. What I’m looking for to push me over the edge is that pleasant surprise. Maybe the paragraph takes a turn I wasn’t expecting, or a sentence lands with particular impact because it’s so original and precise, or it’s a description that feels intuitively true and right that no one else would have thought to describe that way.

That’s the way all readers read, I think. We all have a little checklist in our mind of pluses and minuses, tallying every time we’re surprised or disappointed as we read. As an agent, I’m reading much more quickly and critically than someone reading for pleasure, so those pleasant surprises need to happen quickly—as early as page one, I need to see that the writer has fresh ideas and an unprecedented way of expressing them.

It’s the unfamiliar that really stands out to me. Not unfamiliar for the sake of sounding experimental or clever or weird, but unfamiliar because you have something unusual to say and this is the only way you can say it. There’s an idea that needs to be communicated, and it’s too interesting to be communicated in any of the ordinary ways, so you’ve had to get creative.

 

Q. What makes for a successful author-agent relationship? How can both parties get the most out of that relationship?

Incredible trust is required, and that’s something that you develop over time and not something that you have right away when you sign with an agent. But trust is essential to an affirming and long-term author-agent relationship. When an agent receives a new manuscript from a client, they can trust that it’s good and thoughtfully constructed and that there are interesting ideas at work; and when the author receives editorial notes they can trust that they’re written in good faith and meant to preserve the mood, tone and spirit of the book. And onwards through the publication process, trust continues to be important: the agent and author are always on the same team, working jointly to help the book succeed. 

 

Q. Do you have any final advice for authors who are currently writing or are in the querying process?

The query process can often be difficult, frustrating, obscure and hard to interpret, and what I encourage writers to do is to take everything that comes their way as a form of feedback. If you query widely and you get silence in response, it’s very easy to throw your hands up and say “this process is insane, it’s a lottery, the gatekeepers aren’t even reading my work”. But if you look at this silence as a form of feedback, you can take another look at your query letter, you can share your sample pages with beta readers, you can use this as an opportunity to improve your craft. And then you might find that when you send out your query again, you start to get a few full requests. And then you can look at what you did right, what attracted those agents to your query, and you can use that feedback going forward.

You have to enjoy the craft of writing in order to have stamina in this business. As long as you are continually exploring revisions, thinking about new projects, and looking ahead instead of behind, you’re doing the right thing. That idea of forward motion and charging ahead and using everything from the past as a learning opportunity for your next project—that’s what will keep you focused, and engaged with your writing, and excited about everything that comes your way.

 

 

The full interview can be found on Devon’s AgentMatch profile.

 


 

In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

 

Added a post 

Good morning, everyone!

Today I’m excited to share with you a wonderful interview with Charlotte Merritt!

Charlotte is a literary agent with Andrew Nurnberg Associates. She joined in 2018 after having lived and worked in India and Hong Kong for many years. Prior to that she worked in publishing in London for over a decade, first at Bloomsbury and then at Hodder & Stoughton.

Charlotte focuses on a wide range of non-fiction, including history, politics, psychology, and current affairs. She is also searching for unique memoirs and new perspectives on the natural world. Her aim for 2022 is to find books that make us laugh or offer sage advice about how to live a good life.

Charlotte also does One-to-One sessions with us, so be sure to book a session for advice on your non-fiction query letter and book proposal!

 

Check out some highlights from our interview with Charlotte below.

 


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=694&dpx=1&t=1647344036Charlotte Merritt

“I work with a number of really talented experts in their field, and it's just fascinating to be privileged enough to see their knowledge at close quarters.”

 

Good afternoon Charlotte, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what you’re looking for in non-fiction submissions, and advice for querying authors.

 

Q. What brought you to agenting?

After a career spanning eleven years in publishing and then a seven year stint living in Asia working in both India and Hong Kong, I returned to the UK and realised that I wanted to shift to the other side of the pond away from publishing and into agenting. I think the reason for that is that in publishing, although it’s fascinating, you're constantly onto the next thing and ruled by the publishing calendar, and I wanted to be in a part of the industry where long term relationships take precedence. I also wanted to be on the side of the writers and the people whose creativity powers the industry. 

 

Q. What’s on your wish-list at the moment?

There are a few things that I'm looking for outside the mainstay of my nonfiction list. I think we could all do with more humour right now and I would love to find some brilliantly funny writers. Whether that's satire, something more lifestyle focused, or even some really talented graphic writers or cartoonists. I just think it would be great.

I would also love to find some original nature writing. It's such a populated field, but I’d really like to find someone who approaches the natural world from an entirely new perspective.

I represent a lot of historians and I'm fascinated by the history of objects and what objects from the past can tell us about social history. And that, I suppose, is a cross disciplinary thing between design and history, and so I'm always looking out for that too.

I think there's a huge appetite for books on psychology and what makes people tick, and I'm always looking for fresh voices within the field of psychology that can help us all understand ourselves a little bit better. 

Finally, I think it's a real shame that the old-fashioned form of biography has fallen out of favour, and although these days you most certainly don't need to do the cradle to grave plod in a huge tome in order to understand a past life better, I think there’s something fascinating about this form of narrative. I'm really keen to find cultural biographers, whether for musicians, contemporary or classical literary figures, or artists. 

 

Q. Is there any genre you’d rather not receive? 

I receive a lot of memoir and I am keen to continue to represent memoirs - but there has to be a real reason behind it. It has to be someone who's insight or story is completely different to anyone else’s and who has a totally unique standpoint, who ideally can help us examine a current preoccupation that we all want to understand better. So I'm hesitant to receive memoir in great quantity.

Also sports books. I really don't know anything about sport so please don’t send me those.

 

Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

My days are quite structured because I find that the bits of my job that require the most concentration are the editing and close reading, so it's far better for me to do that as early in the day as possible when I'm at my most alert. I generally then schedule meetings later in the day. So I’ll get my editing done first, and then that segues into catching up with editors or my clients. I'm very lucky at ANA  to be surrounded by a number of fantastic international colleagues who all know their markets in different territories inside out, so I'm also constantly checking in with them too. 

 

Q. What makes for a successful author-agent relationship? How can both parties get the most out of the relationship?

A lot of it is about trust and honesty. You have to work closely together and as an agent you have to feel confident enough in your relationship with your client that you can give them very robust feedback - and equally the author has to feel confident enough in the relationship with the agent that they trust your feedback and find it constructive. Every agent-author relationship develops its own rhythm. As an agent the best thing is often to give feedback that points the way forward rather than presents people with a dead end. And for the author it’s about being totally honest, and if they're feeling uncomfortable about something or they feel overwhelmed, or they want more time, or they’ve hit a wall, just be honest about it. Everything can always be sorted out, but as an agent you need to know what the problem is first and then you can help them work through it.

I would say my kind of bugbear is when clients just disappear with no prior warning for months on end. It's always better, even if it's going to be bad news and they're not going to deliver their manuscript for umpteen more months and it's going to be really late, it’s far better to know as soon as possible and then I can help them work around or work with that. 

 

Q. What's the best thing about being an agent?

It's without doubt having the privilege to work with unbelievably talented writers as my day job, and it's as simple as that. To be right there at the beginning of the creative process to help them, particularly with non-fiction, to help them finesse and hone their ideas, it’s perpetually interesting. I work with a number of really talented experts in their field, and it's just fascinating to be privileged enough to see their knowledge at close quarters. 


Q. Do you have any final words of advice for querying authors?

I would say really think about your submissions letter. Avoid clichés; make sure you’re speaking from the heart. Imagine that you are addressing someone who's standing in front of you, and try to be yourself as if you want to kick off a fascinating conversation about your book.

 

The full interview can be found on Charlotte’s AgentMatch profile.

 

If you’re interested in booking a one-to-one session with Charlotte, please click here.

 



In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

 

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Good morning, everyone!

We’re back to our regular Spotlight On scheduling with a wonderful interview with Lynnette Novak!

Lynnette is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency. Prior to becoming an agent she worked as a freelance editor for 17 years. Through mentoring in the 2015 and 2016 Pitch Wars (where both of her mentees acquired agents), she realised a love for agenting. Her editorial experience is valuable as an agent as she has an excellent understanding of what editors are looking for in books, and how best to pair her authors with editors.

Lynnette is interested in adult fiction, young adult fiction, middle grade, and children’s fiction. In all aside from children’s fiction, Lynnette is interested in books that explore darker genres, including thrillers, horror, psychological suspense, and mystery. She is also interested in romance, humour, fantasy, and sci-fi.

 

Check out some highlights from our interview with Lynnette below.

 



 image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=684&dpx=1&t=1646135853Lynnette Novak

“Some writers confuse the pitch in the query with the synopsis. The pitch should tease the reader. Don’t give away too many details and don’t reveal the ending.”

 

Good afternoon Lynnette, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what you’re looking for in submissions, and more about your role as an agent.


 Q. What brought you to agenting? 

I was a teacher, freelance editor, and writer. I participated in PitchWars (an online contest where freelance editors and agented/published authors mentor writers for a few months). I LOVED going through the slush pile and selecting the project I wanted to work on and the author I wanted to work with. My mentees both acquired agents and one went on to become published. It was so rewarding to see their dreams come true, and I wanted to do that for other authors too. Plus, agenting is the BEST JOB EVER!!! I get to READ for a living!!! 

 

Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list? 

I’m always looking for diverse authors and illustrators. With picture books, I’m looking for something that will really stand out, which isn’t as easy as one might think! In MG and YA, I’m really wanting a contemporary with a unique twist. A MG horror or mystery that keeps me engaged until the end is also on my wish list. I’m looking for YA horror, mysteries, and thrillers with a unique voice. YA fantasy is coming back! Yay!!! Send me something unique, something editors can’t put down. I also love graphic novels for early readers, middle grader, and young adults. As for adult fiction, I’m REALLY looking for more thrillers. I seriously can’t live without that dark side! Check out my full and current wish list on The Seymour Agency website.

 

Q. Is there any genre you’d rather not receive? 

Erotic romance, historical romance, historical mysteries, or Christian fiction. I simply don’t read in those areas, so I wouldn’t be the best fit.

 

Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you? 

Busy, busy, busy!!! Every day is different, which I like, so I’ll go through a few of the items I do on a regular basis (in no particular order).

-Answer emails from clients and editors.

-Have calls or Zoom video calls with editors (or meet them in person when possible).

-Read and/or edit client manuscripts.

-Prepare client submission packages.

-Research editors to create an editor list for each project I put out on sub.

-Prepare workshops for upcoming conferences.

-Participate in online or in-person conferences.

-Read through and negotiate contracts.

-Keep on top of query slush pile.

-Read requested submissions and either reject or set up a call with an author to discuss their projects and career goals—possibly offer to represent them.

-Brainstorm ideas with my clients.

-Participate in Zoom calls with #/TeamNovak.

-Meet with The Seymour Agency agents in a weekly Zoom.

-Comfort clients who need it.

-Send out monthly updates to those on submission, so they can see where their projects are sitting.

-Nudge editors who haven’t responded to queries and/or requested submissions.

-Track client submissions (rejections and what was said, when project was requests, etc.).

-Participate in interviews like this!

-Read published books to keep up with the market (and because I love to read!!!) Although, I only read published books in the evening and/or weekends. I’m too busy during the day!

-Stay on top of what’s selling through Publishers Weekly and Publishers Marketplace as well as discussing trends and editor wish lists with my colleagues. 

-Participate in online pitch parties on Twitter and other places.

-Keep track of money owed (advance payments, royalties, etc.).

-Keep updated records for accounting purposes.

-Pursue possible rights sales: foreign, TV/Film, gaming, audio, comic book, and graphic novel rights.

-Announce sales, new clients, agenting advice, as well as post adorable animal photos on Twitter.

-And so much more!!! I LOVE THIS JOB!!! I REALLY, REALLY DO!!!

 

Q. What do you want to see in a synopsis. What should writers do? What should they avoid?

Some writers confuse the pitch in the query with the synopsis. The pitch should tease the reader. Don’t give away too many details and don’t reveal the ending. The synopsis is a different beast. There, we want to know the beginning, middle, and end. However, you shouldn’t include dialogue or descriptions of the characters or places. Just tell us what the story is about and how it ends. I’ll still want to see who the main character is and what they’re trying to achieve, as well as what’s keeping them from it and what would happen if they don’t achieve it. But here, I want to see this for both the external GMCs (goals, motivations, and conflicts) as well as the internal. How does the character grow by the end of the story? If it’s a romance, show me the romance arc too.

 

Q. What are some of your favourite authors and books?

This changes all the time. I can never settle with even a few favourites. I love to read, so I’m constantly exploring new authors (or new-to-me authors) as well as reading authors who’ve previously hooked me.

 

Q. What interests or passions do you have beyond the world of books? What do you love?

I love ANIMALS!!! If I could have an animal sanctuary, a zoo, a farm and a shelter, I would!!! I also love nature (even in the cold climate where I live!) I love crafting. I’m into so many types of crafts like: crocheting, cross stitching, needle felting, diamond painting, constructing miniature houses, adult coloring books, Rainbow Looms, yarn looms, and many more!!!

 

 

The full interview can be found on Lynnette’s AgentMatch profile.

 


 

In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

 

 

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Calling all Australian & Canadian authors (and anyone else who’s nosey like me)


Ever wondered how the query process works in Canada? Or how to get an agent when you live in Australia? Well, funny you should ask. 


We are thrilled to announce that Australian and Canadian agents have joined the AgentMatch family (otherwise known as ‘database’). So far we have 11 Australian agencies with 24 agents, and 18 Canadian agencies with 67 total agents. Now, these numbers may seem small compared to the US and UK based agencies already on the system but have no fear; each profile has been researched thoroughly, every agent has been contacted and interviews requested. Every ‘i’ has been dotted and every ‘t’ has been crossed, as they say.  


We will of course expand and adapt the list of agencies and agents with the most up-to-date information available as and when we find it. So please keep your eyes peeled for updates. 



But first, the basics. 


So, how exactly does the submission process work in Canada and Australia? Is it different to what UK and US agents recommend? Are all agents open to submissions or do they limit it to referrals only? These are just some of the topics we’ve researched and discussed with the agents. You’ll be relieved to know their answers did not disappoint. 


From our research, there seems to be a consensus among the Australian agencies that they will only accept submissions from authors who are a resident of either Australia or New Zealand, which is good news for our Australian and New Zealand based authors! Have no fear if you’re based elsewhere though, as the general consensus for Canadian agencies is that they will accept international authors (similar to UK and US agencies). 


Our research also shows that the Australian and Canadian submission process is pretty similar to the UK and US. So good news, you need your standard query letter, synopsis, and opening pages. And, as I’m sure you know, we can help you with those! 



Interviews. 


We have loved sitting down (virtually, that is) with international agents and getting the industry gossip; asking for their advice on what the opening pages should demonstrate; how to catch and keep their attention in a query letter; and everything in between. The advice we’ve garnered could be applied to every author across the globe, not just those looking to submit to these two countries. 


You can check out the Spotlight On features we’ve done over the past few weeks by following the links below: 



Let’s chat. 


Don’t forget, you can get valuable, personal feedback on your writing in a fifteen-minute One-to-One with an agent of your choice. 


Throughout February we have worked with 28 agents specialising in a range of genres, offering a combined 140 One-to-One sessions. In March we’re working with 29 agents, for a combined 145 One-to-One sessions.  



What next? 


For me? That’ll be a cup of tea and to finish reading The Manningtree Witches (after work, of course), but for you, well that depends on where you are with your writing journey. 


If you’re a member, head over to AgentMatch now and get searching - we’ve added Australia and Canada to our country search filters. All the agents and agencies interviewed and mentioned above are listed and their profiles are ready for you to peruse, along with many more. You can also get your query letter reviewed by one of the fabulous Writers Support team so you know that you are truly, submission ready. 


If you’re not yet a member but you’d love an insight into the new profiles, or just want to try out AgentMatch to see how it works, then sign up for the free trial. Or better yet, join us and become a member to get access to AgentMatch and get personalised direct feedback on your query letter, as well as everything else we have to offer. 


And, of course, everyone can book a One-to-One and get direct, personal feedback from an agent of your choice on your writing, submission pack, and general agent-related questions! 


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Good morning, everyone!

We are very excited to introduce another Canadian agent, Brenna English-Loeb, a literary agent at Transatlantic Agency.  

Brenna has always gravitated to unique stories with a strong point of view. She is specifically looking for works of YA and adult science fiction, fantasy, mystery and rom-coms. She's interested in crime and suspense, character-driven space operas, rare myth and fairy tale retellings, nature survival stories, epistolary novels, and heists. She also has a soft spot for stories that blend multiple genres and she is always looking for works by underrepresented groups and identities. 

Transatlantic Agency was founded 25 years ago and is a literary management company with a team of 20 agents based in cities across North America. Transatlantic represents more than 700 American, Canadian and internationally bestselling and award-winning clients. Their client’s books range from commercial to literary for fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels and picture books, and they regularly appear on notable bestseller lists across North America and have won major awards.


Check out some highlights from our interview with Brenna below!

 



 image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=680&dpx=1&t=1645028703Brenna English-Loeb

"I find a synopsis really helpful in judging early on if the story is going to go in the direction I would like it to, and if my vision for the story and the author’s vision are going to be aligned."


Q. What brought you to agenting?

It was a bit of random chance. For a long time, before I was working in publishing, I didn’t know that literary agents existed, or the role they played in the industry. I knew that editors were a thing and I thought that sounded really cool, but I didn’t quite understand what agents were. Then I got an internship at a publisher, and from there I learned a lot more about the industry and ended up getting a second internship at an agency. From there I decided that I was far more interested in the agenting side of things as it plays more to my strengths. After that I was very lucky to be offered a job at an agency and I’ve never looked back.


Q. What’s your favourite thing about being an agent?

I think my favourite thing about being an agent is just being able to pick my own projects and what I want to work on. Having that kind of self-direction is really fun because it means that I get to follow my heart in terms of what I want to be working on, or who I want to be working with. And having that kind of freedom and independence is, I think, pretty rare in a job, just generally speaking. It's so awesome to have that choice and to really be able to curate my list according to my own tastes and interests and to support the authors that I really want to work with.


Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

The biggest thing is staying on top of my inbox, which is probably the only constant. On a typical day I’ll check my inbox first thing, and now that I live in mountain time I’m always behind the east coast by a couple of hours, so when I get up I already have a lot of things waiting for me. So a couple of hours going through my inbox, replying to or filing things and updating stuff based on whatever has come in, and then after that I often have meetings within the agency or with editors or clients. And then after that it’s mostly project management, so working on projects for my clients, whether that’s reading or preparing something to go out on submission or giving notes. Often my days end up being a little bit of everything, which is nice as there’s always variety.


Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list?

Right now, I would really love a space opera, something along the lines of The Vorkosigan Saga. Something large in scope but very personal in stakes, and just fun. I love a really fun, adventurous space opera. Other than that, I’m always interested in sci-fi fantasy, and I'm very often interested in mystery as well. I’d love to see a really tropey fantasy, for example something with an arranged marriage or enemies to lovers.


Q. What’s at the top of your nonfiction wish-list?

There is nothing I’m specifically looking for at the moment. When it comes to nonfiction I’m looking for someone who is an expert in their field who has something to say and something surprising because I like it to be something that I can learn about as I’m working on the project.

Generally speaking, I tend to be most interested in things that are sociological or scientific, that have a basis in something historical or something modern, and I want to learn something about the way the world and our culture operates, that I hadn’t really thought about before.


Q. What do you want to see in a query letter? And what do you hate?

Query letters are so difficult to write so I have so much respect and sympathy for everyone who writes them.

I will say that a common mistake I see is not actually describing what happens in the story in the query letter, and instead kind of talking around it. So for example, sometimes people will just list the themes of the story, or they'll say people will love this because of X and it feels more like marketing copy and that’s not really of interest to me at this stage. I can figure those things out for myself based on the actual story, so that’s what I want to know.


Q. Same question when it comes to the synopsis. What should writers do? What should they avoid?

I find a synopsis really helpful in judging early on if the story is going to go in the direction I would like it to, and if my vision for the story and the author’s vision are going to be aligned. There’s nothing worse than starting something that’s very well-written and super engaging, and then realising halfway or three quarters of the way though that you have different goals for the story than the author does. And generally speaking, that doesn’t make for a very compatible relationship and you can’t very easily move forward from that. If I can skim the synopsis, and I don’t even necessarily read all the way through or want to spoil the ending, but if I can get a sense of how it is moving along structurally and if this is in the way that I would hope then I feel much better prepared when considering the manuscript.

The synopsis also doesn’t need to be really detailed and describing every single thing that happens, it only needs to cover the major things.


Q. What makes for a successful author-agent relationship? How can both parties get the most out of the relationship?

I think that when you're working with an agent it's really important to find someone that you can actually have a conversation with and you feel like you're speaking the same language, you're on the same page, you're being heard, your concerns are being listened to, and your agent is explaining things fully to you. And I think you have to trust your agent, and if you don’t then I don’t think it can be a successful relationship. And this goes both ways. From the agent side that’s what you're looking for in an author as well. Beyond the manuscripts it's so important to get along on a personal level so that you can collaborate on everything and have that frank relationship where you can actually discuss somewhat, like fraught or sensitive topics. If you're a writer and you want that to be your career, these can be emotional issues, and it's important to be able to have a conversation about these things in a productive way and with someone who is going to be sensitive to that. So having that trust and the ability to communicate is really, really important.


Q. Any final words of advice for authors in the querying process?

I think the biggest thing is just to query a lot of different agents, possibly even more than you think. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but also make sure those agent choices are well researched. It’s a balancing act between trying to query enough agents that you have a higher chance of success but not so many that the quality of your submission is sacrificed.

I also think it’s important to develop a group of writing friends who can be a support network and be your first readers and be giving you accurate and helpful advice. Writing can be so isolating without a community and it's good to have that environment to be able to share the good and bad with like-minded people who can offer emotional and constructive support when it comes to your writing journey. We can always benefit from having multiple eyes in an editorial sense and there’s no one better than other writers.


Check out the full interview on Brenna’s AgentMatch profile here.

 



We hope you have enjoyed our series on Canadian agents, as much as we loved doing it.

If you’re a member, head over to AgentMatch now and get searching. We’ve added Canada to our country search filters. If you’re not yet a member but want to try out AgentMatch, then sign up for the free trial. Or better yet, join us and become a member to get access to AgentMatch as well as everything else we have to offer.

 

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Good morning, everyone!

We are very excited to introduce another Canadian agent, Akin Akinwumi, the founder of Willenfield Literary Agency.

Akin accepts submissions of literary fiction, literary non-fiction, general non-fiction, poetry, and visual narrative. He is passionate about innovative and culturally relevant writing, and is looking for compelling projects with something important to say about the contemporary experience of being in and interacting with the world. More than any theme or aesthetic approach, Akin's central concern is with literary and artistic excellence. Projects must make a significant contribution to literature.

The Willenfield Literary Agency is an independent agency founded in 2019 to offer a compelling alternative to the conventional literary agency model. Their vision is driven by their commitment to championing literary art and contemporary writing.


Check out some highlights from our interview with Akin below!

 


image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=679&dpx=1&t=1645028484Akin Akinwumi

 

"I challenge myself to read beyond my own taste and inclinations—beyond what I like and prefer—because I love to be surprised.”

 

Q. What brought you to agenting?

I became a literary agent after pivoting from academia and consulting. I’d always had a strong interest in contemporary literature and writing and enjoy working with writers. Furthermore, I felt there was a gap in the market for literary agencies that catered to writers producing the type of work that might fly below the radar of conventional agencies.  

Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list? 

I am drawn to literary fiction that is formally and stylistically inventive, intellectually provocative, and challenging. I’m more concerned with artistic vision, language, form, and style than with traditional concerns like plot. That said, I challenge myself to read beyond my own taste and inclinations—beyond what I like and prefer—because I love to be surprised. 

Q. What’s at the top of your non-fiction wish-list?

For nonfiction, I am interested in all types of literary nonfiction (including narrative and creative nonfiction) and general nonfiction. Across these categories, there is a commonality of interest in that my focus is on work that’s attentive to craft and books intended for a discerning and intelligent readership.

Q. What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

Emails, calls, meetings, and administrative tasks take up a huge chunk of my day. But I also spend a great deal of time reading and editing client manuscripts and proposals. 

Q. What do you want to see in a query letter? And what do you hate?

I don’t find query letters to be particularly useful, so I work with a tailored form to apprehend information that is clear, actionable, and scratches beneath the surface.

Q. Same question when it comes to the synopsis. What should writers do? What should they avoid?

I don’t really care too much for synopses except in rare situations (e.g. a longer novel with several characters).

Q. What makes for a successful author-agent relationship? How can both parties get the most out of the relationship?

The author-agent relationship succeeds when there are clear agreed-upon goals and respectful dialogue. The publishing journey can be long and frustrating therefore it is important that the author works with an agent that they trust implicitly to represent their best interests. The author also has to be willing to exercise patience and allow the agent space and time to do the work.

Q. Any final words of advice for authors in the querying process?

Stay the course.   

 

Check out the full interview on Akin’s AgentMatch profile here.

 



We hope you have enjoyed another instalment in our series on Canadian agents - more to come soon!

If you’re a member, head over to AgentMatch now and get searching. We’ve added Canada to our country search filters. If you’re not yet a member but want to try out AgentMatch, then sign up for the free trial. Or better yet, join us and become a member to get access to AgentMatch as well as everything else we have to offer.

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Good morning, everyone!

We start off the new year with a wonderful interview with Leticia Gomez!

Leticia Gomez is the founder of Savvy Literary, a literary agency based in the US. She specialises in representing non-fiction books and has represented works across the spectrum of non-fiction genres. According to Publishers Marketplace in 2020, Leticia ranked number one in the numbers of deals she made in the non-fiction: narrative category, number two in non-fiction: anthology, and number eight in non-fiction overall, among all literary agents in the United States.

Leticia has worked in the publishing industry for nearly three decades where she has published her own newspaper, authored and published three books, and edited numerous fiction and nonfiction manuscripts written in both English and Spanish that have gone on to publication. As a literary agent, she has placed more than 200 books with independent and mainstream traditional publishers.

 

Check out some highlights from our interview with Leticia below.

 



image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=661&dpx=1&t=1641297207Leticia Gomez

“I firmly believe that everybody has a story inside of them that’s just itching to get out, so don’t ignore that feeling.”

 

Good afternoon Leticia, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what you’re looking for in submissions, and advice for querying authors.

 

Q. What brought you to agenting?

I got my start in the publishing industry by publishing a bilingual newspaper with my best friend. Then I got married and wanted to start a family. I relocated to Texas and continued in the publishing industry by doing magazine freelance writing work until I got pregnant with my first child. At this time I decided I wanted to do something else to keep me occupied, so I wrote a romance a novel and found my own publisher for it. That’s what gave me the first taste of being a literary agent. I knew from then that I wanted to work in publishing as either a literary agent or as an acquisition editor, but back in the early 2000s a lot of acquisition editors really had to be based in New York or California, so I chose to become a literary agent. And then in 2007, I started my own agency, Savvy Literary Services.

 

Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list? What authors do you love? What kind of books?

Upmarket contemporary women’s fiction is always at the top of my list because women are the biggest consumer of books, and there’s also more women writing. I really want good upmarket contemporary women’s fiction - I will do some historical, but it’s a bit more difficult to place. I’m essentially open to anything written for women, by women.

 

Q. What do you love when it comes to non-fiction? What topics fire you up? Which genres leave you cold?

In non-fiction I specialise in narrative non-fiction, whether it’s historical or contemporary. The reason I really love narrative non-fiction is because they’re very desirable in terms of being optioned for film and television. So true stories, narrative non-fiction, and memoirs. And then anything that’s self-help for the adult market across all the boards, whether it’s business, self-help, health, and advice and relationship books. I also represent a great deal of inspirational and spirituality books.  

 

Q. Is there any genre you’d rather not receive?

In fiction, I don’t do erotica and horror, and really those are the only two genres that I will shy away from at first sight. I don’t do poetry. I also don’t do children’s picture books. I do however do middle grade and young adult novels.

For non-fiction there’s very little that I won’t take a look at.

 

Q. What do you want to see in a query letter? And what do you hate?

With fiction I want the writer to give me their best well thought out elevator pitch. I want the title of the work, the genre, the word count, and a really good overview of the plot/storyline. I would attach to it the first 3 chapters. I know some agents ask not to send attachments but I prefer attachments than to have it pasted into the body of an email because that amount of text in that space becomes overwhelming.

For non-fiction I really have to see a well put together book proposal. Even if the author has the full manuscript ready I just want to see the proposal.

 

Q. Same question when it comes to the synopsis. What should writers do? What should they avoid?

I prefer a synopsis on the shorter side, between 2 and 5 pages. Anything longer than that and it becomes difficult to follow. Keep it short and sweet. I do, however, want them to have a beginning, middle, and an ending. You don’t necessarily have to include all the spoilers though. I want the author to set the stage for the story and set up the intrigue, but not let the cat out of the bag.

 

Q. What are you looking for in the opening pages of a novel? What really excites you?

I’m a sucker for great one-liners. I like a good balance between narrative and dialogue - I don’t want all narrative or all dialogue. I like for the dialogue to be very witty, crisp, and authentic sounding to the character.

 

Q. How can a book proposal convince you to take on a book or to hear more about an idea?

Firstly, the overview has to hook me. Then, it has to answer the following questions: what is the concept of the book, why is now the best time to write and publish this book, why is the author the best person to write the book, and what are the reader takeaways? A proposal that answers all of these questions will capture my heart and make me want to read more.

 

Q. What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

The one thing I will say is that the life of an agent is very unpredictable. It’s difficult to plan out your days in advance.

The first thing I do is grab my coffee (I can’t function without coffee), turn on my computer, and check my emails. Usually by this point my day has already been derailed because something has come up in my inbox that I need to give immediate attention to, so my plans from the night before fall apart. For me the first order of business is to look at emails that might contain publication offers, as those require immediate attention. Publication offers are my number one priority. Number two is putting out any fires that have emerged in my inbox. Number three is business development. Number four is reviewing new submissions, unfortunately at the bottom of the chain.

 

Q. Any final words of advice for querying authors?

The first thing I have to say is to summon up the courage to query. Give it your best shot because sometimes that’s all you get in life, one shot. Be yourself; let your personality come out. It’s not just a piece of writing it’s a person with a dream, so show me just how much it means to you through your writing and through your query.

There’s also no better time than the present to write. If you’ve got a story inside of you then you need to get it out. Whether that’s a fiction story, or non-fiction, get it out of your system. Don’t worry about getting it out perfectly, just write it and worry about going back and editing it later. I firmly believe that everybody has a story inside of them that’s just itching to get out, so don’t ignore that feeling.

 

The full interview can be found on Leticia’s AgentMatch profile.

 


 

In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

Added a post 


Good morning, everyone!

Today I am very excited to introduce you to Ameerah Holliday, an agent with Serendipity Literary Agency.

Ameerah Holliday joined Serendipity Literary Agency in 2019, initially on a year-long internship and then as a junior agent from 2020. She is also a former editorial assistant intern for Poetry International and currently serves as editorial director for the San Diego Poetry Annual and assistant editor for Kids! San Diego Poetry Annual.

Serendipity Literary Agency LLC is a boutique agency founded in 2000 by Regina Brooks. The agency has a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young adult fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature.

Ameerah is interested in both fiction and non-fiction books. She is drawn to voice and emotion in all genres, and looks for writing that explores diverse experiences with elements of intersectionality. Ameerah would love to see stories that take you on a journey through growth or explores friendship. In non-fiction she is interested in writing derived from niche passion projects, discussions of mental health in minority communities, and books on business.

 

Check out some highlights from our interview with Ameerah below

 



image_transcoder.php?o=bx_froala_image&h=646&dpx=1&t=1637667261Ameerah Holliday, Serendipity Literary Agency

"I love when authors have an elevator pitch in their query letter already. It’s really helpful and it gives a really concise idea of the themes and the things that I’ll be seeing in the story."


Good afternoon Ameerah, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today! We would love to know more about how you became an agent, what your role entails, what you’re looking for in submissions, and advice for querying authors.


Q. What brought you to agenting?

I was in college and I was studying English lit and I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do in that space. I knew that I didn’t want to be a writer but I knew I loved to read and so I thought that maybe being in a space where I could help other writers create and craft their books would be the perfect place for me. I met another agent who worked on graphic novels and made it seem like he was part of the magic and finding the voice that was out there in the void and helping craft it and get it out into the world and I was so excited by that that I decided to do agenting.

 

Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

It’s a lot of reading, not only my authors’ and my clients’ work but also other people’s work as well. I also try to do a lot of outreach to editors and other people in the industry, so it’s a lot of talking to people about a love of books and ideas and TV shows that we’re all really passionate about. So it’s about 95% talking to people and figuring out the things they enjoy, and the rest is reading and offering advice and care.

 

Q. What’s at the top of your fiction wish-list?

I would love a rom-com, specifically one that’s queer or intersectional and contains minorities, something we haven’t necessarily seen before. I would also really love a middle grade or YA story that’s similar to Stranger Things, where the friend group is the core and they’re solving the problems together. I love the dynamic of kids coming together in their circle and basically saving the world together, I think that’s amazing.

 

Q. What do you love when it comes to non-fiction?

I really want to get into more of the mental health space, specifically in minority communities. I really love to push those ideals and experiences. I’m also really into business related books or books that deal with pop culture in niche ways. Because I’m in San Diego, California I’m around a lot of the Comic-Con culture and the science fiction/fantasy space, and so I love anything that deals with fandom and pop culture in unique ways. As well as anything that involves business in a new way, not necessarily advice books on being a boss but books on dealing with building your business, and how to relate to other people.

 

Q. What do you want to see in a query letter? And what do you hate?

I love when authors have an elevator pitch in their query letter already. It’s really helpful and it gives a really concise idea of the themes and the things that I’ll be seeing in the story. One of the things I don’t always love is comparable titles, though I know they’re necessary. Sometimes they can be a bit too vague or even a bit too extreme. I love when authors include comps, but if you’re calling your story “the next Game of Thrones” I think that’s a really large sell, so I’d prefer comp titles to be a little more grounded. Also, comp titles don’t have to be limited to books, which is something I would love to see more of. If an author feels like their story is similar to a movie or TV show that just came out, they should definitely mention that.

 

Q. Same question when it comes to the synopsis. What should writers do? What should they avoid?

I don’t love synopses that are very hashtag heavy, so if you’re writing something and you’re using #/ownvoices or #/scifiauthor, those are very catchy taglines but I don’t love to see a whole lot of those in the synopses. I do love to get a general sense of the story and the characters and the themes I’ll be seeing. I love when you can integrate a little bit of the overall themes and the feel of the story more than giving away the plot so that I know what emotionally to expect in the story. I think if you can get your synopsis to be concise and as short as possible that’s good. A synopsis that’s more than 2 or 3 paragraphs is a little bit too much. And I’d also say that authors shouldn’t necessarily be afraid to give away the story or the surprise twist ending in the synopsis. I want to get a real feel for your story so don’t be afraid to tell me what’s going to happen.

 

Q. Is there anything that would make you instantly dismiss a manuscript? Would you reject something if it didn’t fit in with what you usually represent?

If I read something and it’s not necessarily for me or I get turned off in the first few pages, but I still feel like it’s a good story or has a good theme or plot, I traditionally just pass it to another agent in our agency. There’s not a whole lot that would make me automatically reject a story if I thought it was good.

 

Q. Tell us about a recent deal (or three) that really delighted you.

Our agency just had a recent deal go through for three picture books for one of our authors, Derrick Barnes, and our illustrator Shawn Martinbrough is set to work with him on one of the books as well. We also have a Juneteeth picture book getting ready to come out which is really fun! We have a few non-fiction books coming out. One is a book about the business side of the beauty industry, and another is discussing psychedelics and religion which is such an interesting topic so, I’m really excited to see how that one goes.

 

The full interview can be found on Ameerah’s AgentMatch profile.

 



In the meantime, if you’re struggling with your query letter and synopsis, do check out our free resources on our website. We have lots of info to help you on your way. Or, better still, if you’re a member with us, our lovely Writers Support team will be happy to offer you a free query letter review!

 

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