GUTGAA Agents Interview: Part 2

7) Would you consider a young adult novel with an 18 year old college freshman, or would you automatically reject it because of the age and setting?

I wouldn’t automatically reject it, but both the writing and overall concept would have to blow me away for me to really consider it. I’d also have to be totally convinced that the novel couldn’t work unless the protagonist was 18 and in college. It’s important to know your market and to be aware that certain decisions you make for your book (like the setting and the protagonist’s age) could make the project less marketable. The publishing process is already tough and unpredictable enough, so unless there’s a great reason for challenging certain accepted conventions, try to avoid creating unnecessary hurdles for yourself. If you think you have a truly great reason, though, go for it! Molly Jaffa

I will usually pass, but on occasion I have considered that sort of story, until I realized I was not the right person to try and sell it. Tricia Lawrence

If it's a contemporary novel, I think it's very hard to sell YA with a protagonist who's not in high school. The college experience is too foreign to most of the readers. If it's a more speculative genre, there might be room for it in the adult market. Hannah Bowman

College age isn't YA. There is an emerging genre called New Adult specifically for/about college age people, but it's still very new so you might still get some rejections. Sara D’Emic

No, it’s fine. Linda Glaz

This seems to be a topic of a lot of debate, and there really doesn’t seem to be a right answer. When I consider taking on a project, I would be hesitant to take on a story where the protagonist is over 18 or younger and in a college setting. Length doesn’t play a role for me. There has been some talk of a “New Adult” way of classifying stories that fall into that older range of YA (or younger range of Adult, depending on how you view it), but as of now, it’s still a ways off from wide acceptance. I would certainly consider projects where teens deal with “adult” issues because that’s the reality of a lot of young people’s lives. It rings true, but there is a different way of writing those tough subjects when you’re writing for YA versus adult, and it’s the writer’s job to figure out how to broach them. Jennifer Azantian

No. I would take a look at it, if it were something I would normally consider. Then I suggest to the author it be considered New Adult instead of YA. Because, New Adult is college aged characters. Brittany Booker

8) If you query and get rejected, how long should a writer wait until he or she queries again with a different manuscript (presuming they have one ready to go on some future date)? Should a writer assume rejection on one manuscript means rejection on all future ones, too?

Definitely don’t assume that one rejection is a “no” to future projects! There’s no specific time frame I have in mind for re-querying, but I have a hard time believing someone has two as-perfect-as-you-can-make-it manuscripts ready to go within a few weeks of each other. (Also, if one agent offers representation on manuscript A and another offers on Manuscript B, it gets complicated for all involved.) Molly Jaffa

I like to see writers respond with growth. So, say a rejection happened and the writer turned around with another manuscript the next day. I would tend to see that negatively, not that the writer is doing anything wrong, but that perhaps some of the problem areas I just rejected are also in this next manuscript and there hasn't been any time to grow. I like to see writers become better writers. I think giving time to absorb the lessons learned in rejection does work. I have to have time to absorb when I need to grow as an agent too. Tricia Lawrence

If it’s a form rejection to a query, the writer should wait at least a week. When I get a second query on the same day I sent the rejection, I wonder if that writer really cares about who they’re querying. Are they just sending and hoping one sticks, or are they actually waiting to see if other agents will like that first project they queried? If a writer gets a form rejection on two or more projects, then it’s time to move on. Even if an agent does like one of your queries, we’ll already know we didn’t like the other projects, so then we probably won’t take you on as a client. You want an agent who will be passionate about your book, but also about your entire body of work so that you can build a lasting working relationship. Tricia Lawrence

No, not at all, but if you’ve been given advice, it probably applies to this work as well, so be sure you’ve done corrections and rewrites that make it deff. If an agent see the same sorry old habits that got you turned down the first time, they’ll remember and be able to pick them out again. Linda Glaz

Though I will give full consideration to a writer querying for a different project right after a rejection, I think it is actually in their best interest to wait a few weeks (or more) just so the agent can look at the new project with as fresh/unbiased eyes as possible. I don’t think a rejection on a manuscript includes all future projects, at least not for me. Jennifer Azantian

Absolutely not. For me, just because I reject one query doesn’t necessarily mean I do not like your writing but that I am not looking for this kind of story at the time. I do not have a time limit; if they have another query they can send it along and I will take a look.
Brittany Booker

9) I'd love to hear about their craziest query, their query pet peeves, and why they signed their most recent client.

I haven't had a crazy query recently, but my query pet peeve is that people don't actually read my response. I ask for specific things sometimes, say when I need an attachment in a certain format (so my Kindle can read it!) or if I need the person to go write for six months before querying me again and said person just turns right back around and does the exact opposite (sends me the wrong format attachment or queries me in like a month or two). It is hard to be objective when details are ignored.

Oh, I signed my most recent client because she got three people to send me notes recommending I read her submission. For an agency that operates on referral, an author that took the time to get three referrals, well, I most definitely read her book, loved it, and signed her. I like that she paid attention to the details! Tricia Lawrence

A specific pet peeve of mine: when parts of my agent bio get quoted back to me. I'm not entirely sure why this bugs me so much, though sometimes it can feel like the author is trying to say "we have the same tastes and you said you liked this genre so sign me" rather than trying to sell their work on its own merits. As for craziest query, I know at least a few agencies have gotten this one. A letter was sent to the office saying only that the sender was trapped in a North Korean prison, with a youtube link. Sara D’Emic

The craziest was probably the one when the individual just rambled, both in the query and the manuscript. Think maybe he was a “little high” when all of it was written. Literally just rambles. I signed my most recent because I started reading it on a Sat. morning and couldn’t put it down until Sat. night when I was finished. Could “not” stop turning pages. Linda Glaz

I have a few query pet-peeves that I’ll take this opportunity to share. Opening with anything other than Dear Ms. Azantian. I am not a sir. I’m also not a huge fan of rhetorical questions, “Have you ever dreamed you were a giant spider terrorizing the streets of a far-off land?” You know, surprisingly, I haven’t. I also suggest avoiding vague descriptions of your work such as, “a sweeping epic of love and loss and the resilience of the human spirit”. I like my queries to be concise and have all the requested parts outlined in the submission guidelines (especially the synopsis!).
As for crazy queries, I once had an author argue with an auto-response for a total of three messages (the maximum amount the auto-response would send to an individual e-mail). That was…interesting. Jennifer Azantian

Craziest- I’ve had a query that was not address to me or anyone for that matter. There was no name, nothing but a paragraph describing what I guess was a book. Yikes. Pet Peeves- I hate when I reject a query and let the author know why and they get angry. I’ve had several authors bombard me with emails demanding to know why I thought the story was overdone or the voice wasn’t fresh and etc. It’s very tiring. My recent clients wrote a YA contemporary novel that was so different and fun to read. They took to sister’s POVs on one journey that brought them to an understanding for each other at the end. Where romance is important and was in this novel, the sister’s relationship was a major part and I like to read different relationships besides a romantic one, sometimes. Brittany Booker

10) Do you have a particular genre/subgenre you're currently looking for? OR is there a particular genre/subgenre you're possibly burned out on?

Please be very careful on the dystopian stories or the "she's human, he's a mystical creature [insert one here] and they feel this burning passion as soon as their eyes meet" or "girl who only thinks about said boy and little else throughout the entire book" setups. We've been there, done that. I need a twist, something I have not seen yet before: try a historical dystopian a la historical event reimagined or a girl who has a hot guy after her, but she's totally focused on something else or busy with her own plans and not that interested in his plans for her or a romance in a setting that makes the romance mean something on multiple levels than just "oh you're hot, I must think of nothing else for my entire junior year of high school." (I admit I did think a LOT about boys during my junior year, but I had other great stuff happening that kept me busy too. Classmates who were all gooey-eyed at each other and didn't do anything else were boring, I do remember that.) Tricia Lawrence

I love all kinds of fantasy and science-fiction, as well as all subgenres of YA. Right now I'd really love to see a YA fantasy or an adult high-fantasy with a really interesting and new setting or concept. I'm also always looking for big space operas and military SF.
Hannah Bowman

Currently looking for love suspense, but suprisingly have been signing historic, historic with a slightly literary feel, not enough to bog the story down, but enough to flavor like salt.
Linda Glaz

Burned out on YA paranormal. I do not want to read anymore for a while. I’m looking for a YA time travel novel at the moment that pulls me in and makes me stay up till four in the morning to read. Brittany Booker

I particularly love all things that have a romantic element, i.e. is what one would consider a romance. (YA/New Adult/Adult - I like all the age ranges.) I enjoy most all sub-genre's, but I've been looking for a great Military Contemporary Romance, as well as an awesome Historical or Urban Fantasy. Sarah Younger

11) What drew you into becoming an agent?

I love ideas and story. I also am aware that if I love a story and don't advocate for it, who else will? Tricia Lawrence

Had worked with Terry Burns as an assistant and the rest just followed. Linda Glaz

What drew me to becoming an agent was my desire to wake up every day and do work that I was passionate about. Jennifer Azantian

I’m an author as well and Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency pulled me in once I showed interest in it. I love to read and write and I figured what a better job than this? Brittany Booker

I have loved books for a long time and knowing that I can connect a writer and a reader via my profession brings me great personal joy. Sarah Younger

12) Please share three of your favorite books from your childhood/teen years.

Chronicles of Narnia series, Little House On the Prairie series, and Little Women (I read these over and over and over) Tricia Lawrence

Top 3 Books that shaped me as a young reader (in chronological order):
Kristy’s Great Idea –I read a ton as a kid, but this was the first chapter book I remember reading on my own.
Fear Street Saga – I think it was the last “kids” book I read before going over to the adult section. (There was no YA section yet.)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – This book changed my life. I was 15 and YA (as we know it now) was just barely starting to exist. No one even called it YA yet. It was the first book I read that made me realize books could be written FOR teens, and not just enjoyed by teens. I’ve read this 10 times since and still find news ways to love it. Sarah LaPolla

I loved anything by Tamora Pierce, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and Robert Heinlein's THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. Hannah Bowman

Pride and Prejudice, Little House Series (Still read it at once a year or so), The Christmas Gift. Linda Glaz

From Childhood: Ella Enchanted. The Harry Potter Series. Anything Roald Dahl.
Jennifer Azantian

Well, for me this was just a few years ago since I’m only 22. I read a lot of Beverly Cleary when I was younger and the Babysitters Club. Then in my teens I started to read Twilight, The Immortal Series, Hush Hush and those types of books. Brittany Booker

Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine (I read it way before the movie.)
Time Enough For Drums - Ann Rinaldi
Harry Potter (any and all) - J. K. Rowling
Dragonriders of Pern (All) - Anne McCaffrey
(I cheated again and put four...I really read so much and left many of my favorite off this list!) Sarah Younger

48 comments:

Kay Kauffman said...

Yes! I love that someone listed Time Enough for Drums as a favorite book! I first read it when I was thirteen and over the last fifteen years, I've read it so many times that I can now quote passages from it the way other people quote movies. :)

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