Tag Archives: Interview

Query Critique from Agent Lauren Spieller of TriadaUS Literary Agency

Literary Rambles

Literary Rambles has an excellent Q&A post with Agent Lauren Spieller of TriadaUS Literary Agency. In addition, Lauren is offering a free critique of one query letter. She is interested in picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. In order to enter, follow and comment on the Literary Rambles interview post by May 13, 2017. If you mention the contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in your comment and you’ll get an extra entry!

Lauren joined TriadaUS in July 2016, having worked in children’s scouting and as a freelance editor. Her focus has been on building her client list, so she spends most of her time reading submissions, meeting with editors, and pitching projects! In fact, her first sale was finally announced earlier this month—a YA Fantasy entitled The Weight of Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth, which sold at auction to Harper Teen and has already been picked up by publishers in France and the UK.

As always, good luck!

P.D. Pabst
Blogger and writer of MG/YA fiction.

Joanna Swainson, Literary Agent (Plus First Page Critique)

Joanna Swainson has worked for a number of different London based literary agencies, including Darley Anderson Literary, Film and TV Agency, and Christopher Little Literary Agency, where she met Caroline Hardman. They set up Hardman & Swainson in June 2012, with eighteen authors. In September 2014 they were joined by agent Hannah Ferguson. Hardman & Swainson now represent 60 authors across a range of genres of fiction and non-fiction. More info at www.hardmanswainson.com

joanna

1. Does the rumor that agents get extremely excited over plucking a gem from the slush really exist?

It’s very exciting to find a gem in our submission. The excitement comes in different shades: there’s a quiet excitement when you read something and can’t stop and feel you’ve got something special. That excitement strengthens as you begin to think about editors that would like to read it too. Once you know it’s something you want to represent there’s the thrill of signing the author. Then there’s nervous excitement when you come to submit to publishers. I think the funnt gif shows the out and out happy excitement of when an offer comes in from a publisher. But that’s strictly between the four walls of the office! Generally speaking, finding a gem in submissions leads to much excitement in many different guises.

Excited GIF

2. Are you a hands-on agent with your authors, editing-wise?

Working editorially with authors and helping to knock a manuscript into shape is one of the most interesting and rewarding parts of this job. Working out what works and why, where a manuscript falls short, which aspects need strengthening etc – it’s endlessly fascinating. The job of editing can take many forms from a few simple suggestions to quite a full on rewrite. It depends on the state of the manuscript. It’s not my job to edit it to death, but to take it to the point where I feel it’s ready for submission – hopefully an editor will then have a vision for it and want to buy it!

3. You keep an open mind about the types of submissions you’d like to receive because you never know what will excite you—which is totally awesome! But, is there something that you’d like to see in your inbox that you haven’t seen yet?

I feel like I’ve seen everything! But our submissions inbox never fails to amaze me. It’s incredible how many people are writing works of fiction and non-fiction, and what they come up with. The key thing is whether what we see is good enough. As you say, I’m open to most things, but it has to be a real sparkler, brilliant of its kind. It’s a very tough market so we have to feel confident about what we’re taking on.

4. The agency website suggests that authors in the US might be better served with an agent in the US, unless there’s a compelling reason for a UK agent. So, would you say that you aren’t totally against receiving submissions from a US author, but they should include a reason as to why they believe they need a UK agent to represent them?

We’ve put this note on our agency website because we were getting a lot of submissions where it simply didn’t make sense to have a UK-based agent. So if, for example, the novel is about baseball – which isn’t a big thing in the UK – or has a particularly American theme, it doesn’t make sense for us to take on this novel unless we’re confident it will straddle the two markets (often very difficult to predict). Our aim is always to sell in the UK and, where appropriate, in the US (and indeed worldwide) but we’re usually thinking about our own market in the first instance. But never say never – we just think US authors should think carefully why their novel or piece of non-fiction would work better, or equally well, with a UK agent. If the author can articulate that, I suppose this also wards off the idea that sometimes creeps into the back of your mind as you’re reading – that all US agents have been exhausted, so that’s why they’ve submitted in the UK.

5. Personalization in a query is often debated. Do you prefer someone to tell you upfront why they are querying you, or get straight to the story their submitting? Has personalization ever made you feel an author was stalking you?

It depends what you mean by personalisation. I think with query letters it’s just good to keep it fairly short and sweet, professional and to the point. Obviously if I met you at a writers conference or some other do, then absolutely jog my memory. I’ll likely be thrilled to hear from you. The only time I’ve ever felt stalked is when we were left some creepy packages on the doorstep over a period of a few weeks. I think it was meant to build up excitement to the arrival of the manuscript in the final package, but all it did was have me double locking the door and quaking with fear.

6. There are authors who spit a MS out based on what’s trending, and others that simply write what they want to read. Any advice/feelings on either route chosen?

Don’t follow trends. What makes most sense to me is write what you’d like to read. Publishing isn’t exactly known for its speed so if you follow a trend, by the time it gets to the agents / editors, the chances are it’ll be done and dusted by that point and everyone will be sick of seeing the same old, same old.

Thank you, Joanna, for taking time to answer my questions. Joanna has been kind to offer a first page critique, even with her busy schedule! (Yay!) This is open to everyone (English written) and Joanna reserves the right to ask for more material if she’s interested in your project. The contest will be open for one week, ending at midnight on March 30, 2015. The winner will be announced on an update to this post. Good luck!

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW CLOSED!

Congratulations to CATHERINE MILLER, winner of the First Page Critique!

And don’t forget to check Joanna out at Hardman & Swainson or follow her on Twitter for bookish tweets. There is also an official Hardman & Swainson Twitter here. Have a fantastic day!

P.D. Pabst
Writer and blogger of MG/YA fiction

Interview with Paul Durham: Author of THE LUCK UGLIES

When a story stays with you weeks after the read, you know a fantastic story fell into your hands. That’s what happened with THE LUCK UGLIES by Paul Durham. Once I cracked open the pages and started reading about Rye’s life on Mud Puddle Lane, I couldn’t put the book down. The story led me on a path of secret rooms and tunnels as truths unfolded in Village Drowning. If you’re not afraid of what lurks under masks and roams in the dark, I recommend reading this awesome story!

THE LUCK UGLIES

HarperCollins listed synopsis (provided by Paul Durham): Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has eleven-year-old Rye O’Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. Now Rye’s only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can’t be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning’s maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she’ll discover the truth behind the village’s legends of outlaws and beasts . . . and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

The first in an irresistible fantasy adventure trilogy that The Peculiar author Stefan Bachmann hailed as “an action-packed adventure with heroes you’ll root for and baddies you’ll hiss at . . . funny and magical,” The Luck Uglies overflows with secrets, friendship, and heart—and is imbued throughout with the magic of storytelling. (Read the rest of interview.)

SARA CROWE: Author of BONE JACK

It’s true. I’m a sucker for great cover art. I’ll pass over a book without reading the blurb if the cover doesn’t lure me to pick up the novel. With a blackened figure of a young boy wearing antlers on his head , BONE JACK by Sara Crowe made me want to know in what type of world a boy would have them on his head.  Then I read there were ghosts in this story about a stag boy and I love ghosts!

BONE JACK

Synopsis:

Ash’s dad has returned from war. But he’s far from the hero Ash was expecting. He’s close to a breakdown, lost in a world of imaginary threats. Meanwhile, Ash’s best friend Mark is grieving and has drifted away into his own nightmares. Ash’s only escape is his lonely mountain running, training to be the stag boy in the annual Stag Chase.

But dark things are stirring. Ghostly hound boys prowl the high paths, and in the shadows a wild man watches. Ash begins to wonder if the sinister stories about the Stag Chase are true. Could Mark and Dad be haunted by more than just their pasts?

The first paragraph promised danger in the pages to come and I devoured the entire book. Therefore, I reached out to the author for a little Q and A. (Read full interview.)