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Interview with Agent Marietta Zacker

Marietta Zacker is a literary agent for the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. You can view her Agent Spotlight profile here, which features further information about Ms. Zacker. Now, without further adieu - the interview!

The masses want to know, who is Agent Marietta Zacker?

Marietta ZackerThe intertwined worlds of writing and publishing have been a part of me as far back as I can remember as both my paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother wrote incessantly. Abuelo wrote because it was impossible for him not to, it was an innate characteristic. When his work was not being published, he took it upon himself to get his writing in front of readers one way or another. Abuela still writes – at the young age of 90 – because, she too, can’t imagine what life would be like without sharing her knowledge and her stories. As an adult, I found myself bringing literature and storytelling into my classrooms with every chance I got, regardless of the grade level or subject matter I was currently teaching. Introducing the world to the creative forces behind the words and art of some of my favorite children’s books became a passion. The publishing world was a natural next step. Now bringing together all the pieces of the puzzle as an agent feels like the perfect home for me.

How long have you had the (assumed) pleasure of being an agent, and how did you get your start?

Officially, I have been working as an agent for 8 months. My start…Craig Virden found me, then Nancy Gallt opened her doors wide for me. Before I met Craig and Nancy, I worked in publishing and with children’s books, authors and illustrators for over 15 years.

We know you love and specialize in children’s literature. That makes you welcome company ‘round this blog. What kick started your passion for kid lit?

The children I taught (and who taught me more in return), the writers and illustrators who surrounded me (and inspired me) and the professors who took me back in time to understand the how it all began kick started my passion. Many others have driven that passion to unimaginable places.

What range of projects do you represent? If we promise not to target what you’re looking for (everyone promise!), will you enlighten us on any particular interests you have? Keep it general, if you like.

I represent authors and illustrators and their writing and artwork are as varied as they come. I admit that I don’t know what I’ll like until I see it or read it – and sometimes, I surprise myself by some of the things that captivate me, so that is definitely a tough question for me. Having said that, as for particular interests, I hope to help usher in a set of voices and depictions that will allow children and young adults of all backgrounds, ethnicities and countries to see themselves within the pages of our books. It is imperative that the voices and illustrations represent the population of children and young adults who crave to find themselves in the books they read - authentic voices and illustrations that move us beyond the stereotypes and are as real as the world we live in.

What are you tired of seeing in the slush? Please, take advantage of this question. I’m sure you’re vamped- and zombied-out as much as the next literary agent (no offence paranormal writers!).

I admit that I am more tired of some of the things I see in queries and cover letters, than I am about any particular subject matter within manuscripts. It is difficult for me to ask to see a manuscript or get excited about what I am about to read when the query or cover letter has no soul or personality. I understand that everyone is trying to be respectful and professional and I certainly appreciate that, but if I had to choose, I would prefer to know who you are rather than the word count or to what book your manuscript can most be compared.

Would you describe yourself as an “editorial agent”? To what extent?

Yes. I love the process of writing as much as I love connecting the dots. I love talking through issues that are not quite ironed out in manuscripts, zeroing in on places where things need to be tweaked and helping writers put their best foot forward. However, it is also true that I neither want to be a member of the writer’s critique group nor take the place of an editor who will take the book in the direction that works best for them and their publishing house. These are fine lines to walk, to be sure and sometimes difficult to discern.

Preferences and pet peeves, we all have them. What are yours when it comes to submissions?

I’ll stick with the mundane here… unpaged manuscripts and single-spaced manuscripts. Then I’ll direct you to my answer above about what I’m tired of seeing in the slush.

How much contact do you have with your clients, and what is your preferred method of correspondence?

We are in touch often. E-mail is the most efficient. Phone conversations are a definite treat for me so I frequently pick up the phone and simply call. Face-to-face interactions (if at all possible) are the most fun.

I’m all about promoting agent research. What are the top two or three things, in your opinion, aspiring authors should research when considering an agent?

Try to find out who the person behind the agent is and whether or not your styles match. Remember that it is a relationship built on trust. An agent doesn’t necessarily need to become a friend, but given what you are entrusting an agent with, make sure you feel comfortable handing off your writing or your artwork.

Are you presently accepting unsolicited submissions? What are your submission requirements, and how can prospective clients get a hold of you?

Yes, I am accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Snail mail seems to best work for me.

(See the Nancy Gallt Literary website for submission information).

Now, a couple fun questions, if you’ll humor me.

Team Edward or Team Jacob? I’m just kidding. What have you read recently and loved?

Honestly, some amazing manuscripts (and I mean that sincerely). But I don’t think that’s your question. I recently reread THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS and fell in love with it again. As for something more current, I am going to keep that information to myself!

We’re out chatting it up and I buy you a drink. What do you choose?

A glass of lemonade or a dark beer, depending on my mood. Then again, it might be hard to say no to a really good glass of wine. And I’ll be happy to pay for my own.

Aspiring authors are always hungry for more. Any closing comments or advice you’d like to add?

Please sit at a library or bookstore, go to the genre which you are currently writing for, start with A and just read. When you are tired, leave, come back the next day or week and pick up where you left off. Keep doing that until you get to Z.

A huge thank you for your time Ms. Zacker. It's been so nice getting to know you better.

Stop By Monday & Some Updates

This coming Monday I have a special treat for you.  It might just happen to be an interview with one of our spotlighted agents, so you might want to stop by to check it out!

***

Now, here's a list of things that have been updated.

Links:  I've been using Google Reader for awhile now (highly recommended), so I decided to replace the blog rolls I had for simple link lists.  You will now find lists of Writerly Friends, Bloggy Agents, Bloggy Editors, and Resources.  If you're an agent, editor, or someone with a helpful blog and would like to be added, pop into the comments.  If you're a writer who has been commenting on my blog regularly or I comment on your blog regularly, same.  I know I'm missing people!  Also, if you're already on one of the lists or are wanting to be added, let me know if you'd like to be listed by your name or your blog name.

Sidebars:  I moved a few things around, deleted a couple extraneous things, and added more fabulous links to the resource list. 

About:  I finally linked the "About" tab to a post about me, rather than just my Blogger profile.  If you have any questions about me or a suggestion of something I should add, let me know here or there.

Agent Spotlight:  I've been working through the spotlights, updating information, deleting old conference dates, rearranging how they are laid out.  The main thing I've done, that might interest you, is I've added recent sales information on each agent from Publisher's Marketplace as available.

That's all for now.  Don't forget to come back Monday!

Friday Teen Files

I'll put up something next week, but today it's your turn!  Tell me a teen story, whether it be yours or someone else's - funny, heartwarming, sad, whatev.

If you have pictures (oh, how I'd love pictures) feel free to post on your blog and then let us know where to go!

Agent Spotlight: Kelly Sonnack

This week's Agent Spotlight features Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc

ksonnackAbout: “Kelly Sonnack came to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency after nearly three years with the Sandra Dijkstra Agency. Prior to that, Kelly worked for the publishing giant Reed Elsevier, where she served as an Acquisitions Editor under the Academic Press imprint.

“As an agent, Kelly specializes in all types of children's literature (picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels). In picture books and middle grade fiction, Kelly looks for a good sense of humor, stories that stretch a young reader's imagination, and an authentic voice. In young adult, she appreciates literary voices and and character-driven stories with heart but is also drawn to dystopian, light science-fiction, and other well-crafted fantasy. In non-fiction for children, she enjoys projects that inspire and stimulate the minds of our younger generations. At this time, Kelly is not accepting submissions of adult fiction or adult non-fiction.

“Some of the titles Kelly has represented include Steve Watkins' Golden Kite Winner DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN and his next YA novel WHAT COMES AFTER (both with Candlewick); Anna Sheehan's debut YA novel A LONG, LONG SLEEP (Candlewick); Carolyn Marsden's next two middle-grade novels STARFIELDS (Candlewick) and THE WHITE ZONE (Carolrhoda/Lerner); James Burks' graphic novel GABBY AND GATOR (Yen Press/Hachette) and his picture book BEEP AND BAH (Carolrhoda/Lerner); Neil Johnson & Joel Chin's picture book THE FALLING RAINDROP (Tricycle/RH); Candace Ryan's picture books ANIMAL HOUSE and RIBBIT RABBIT (both with Walker); and Bridget Heos' upcoming nonfiction picture book series starting with WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING LARVAE (Millbrook/Lerner).

“Kelly is a frequent speaker at conferences, including the San Diego State Writer's Conference and SCBWI's national and chapter conferences.” (Link)

Status: Open to submissions.

What She's Looking For:

From Her Bio:

“Kelly specializes in all types of children's literature (picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels). In picture books and middle grade fiction, Kelly looks for a good sense of humor, stories that stretch a young reader's imagination, and an authentic voice. In young adult, she appreciates literary voices and and character-driven stories with heart but is also drawn to dystopian, light science-fiction, and other well-crafted fantasy. In non-fiction for children, she enjoys projects that inspire and stimulate the minds of our younger generations.” (Link)

From an Interview (09/2010):

“Right now, I’m really digging light science-fiction. Anything resembling a Twilight Zone episode gets me going.” (Link)

From an Interview (03/2009):

"I really don’t confine myself to one area; I enjoy having a variety. I will admit a particular soft spot for picture books but there’s only so many of those I can take on at a time. I really love literary, coming-of-age YA, as well as quirky and smart MG. I’m also particularly loving graphic novels for kids these days. We’re living in a time that is ripe for them, and it’s exciting to help shape that." (Link)

"I’d love to see more well-written and clever middle grade fiction. There’s a need for it right now and I see a lot of potential in this market.  I’d also love to see more memoir for kids – especially cultural memoir about growing up in different countries, identity, and living across cultures. We are a colorful world, and I’m not sure that’s reflected adequately in children’s lit quite yet." (Link)

From an Interview (date unknown):

"In all realms of children’s literature (including YA), I’m looking for a narrative voice that authentically captures the feelings of the age group for whom it’s targeted. That is what made me fall in love with SAND MOUNTAIN. The author has an uncanny ability to get inside the mind of a pre-adolescent, capturing all the awkwardness, loneliness, and fears of a 7th grader. Beyond voice, I’m always looking for good stories, told in fresh and interesting new ways." (Link)

"I love manuscripts that have a clever, or witty sense of humor. With picture books, I tend to go for the silly and zany. With middle grade and YA, it’s important to be subtle and not force humor on the reader. I rarely am attracted to overly dramatic. I had a high school teacher who taught me that one tear was enough to convey sadness, happiness, or despair. Your character does not need to be slamming doors, screaming, or sobbing hysterically for the reader to be affected. If you have developed a character that the reader sympathizes with and cares about, little gestures will translate in a big way." (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

At this time, Kelly is not accepting submissions for adult fiction or adult non-fiction. (Link)

About the Agency:

"We are a mid-size literary agency based in California celebrating over 2,000 titles sold. We bring the best of both worlds to the table—the personal client attention of a small agency and the clout of a larger one. We invest a great deal of care in each project and each client. We devise a strategy at every stage of the writing process, from conception, to editorial, to publication, that is tailored to the client and will enable us to find the best publisher for his or her books. We are seeking long-term relationships with writers and illustrators whose careers we can develop and whose talent we can foster." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Yes.  She reportedly does edits until a project is as good as can be before sending it out. (Link)

Dislikes (Don’ts):

"I hate to see a whiny character who’s in the middle of a fight with one of their parents, slamming doors, rolling eyes, and displaying all sorts of other stereotypical behavior. I hate seeing character ‘stats’ (‘Hi, I’m Brian, I’m 10 years and 35 days old with brown hair and green eyes’).  I also tend to have a hard time bonding with characters who talk to the reader (‘Let me tell you about the summer when I...’).” (Link)

Her Advice to Writers:

"Know who your competition is and read and study the books your intended readers will also be reading. During difficult economic times, support your fellow writers and buy books!"  (Link)

"Write something that I simply can’t ignore. Come up with an original idea that you know could work in the market. Understand what is working today, and read the books that you’ll be competing with. What about YOUR book is going to make a potential book buyer take it to the checkout counter? That is what we’re going to be asking ourselves when we evaluate your book." (Link)

Web Presence:

Andrea Brown Agency website.

Publisher's Marketplace page.

Facebook.

Twitter.

JacketFlap.

SCBWI.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance

Clients:

Diane Adams, James Burks, Sharon Cameron, Carole Gerber, Bridget Heos, Heather Mary Knopf, Merrily Kutner, Neil Johnson & Joel Chin, B.B. Lanka, Jin Pyn Lee, Sandra Markle, Carolyn Marsden, Annika Nelson, Elizabeth Rusch, Candace Ryan, Anna Sheehan, Steve Watkins, among others.

There is also a select list of Andrea Brown Lit titles on the website.

Sales: 

As of 02/11, Ms. Sonnack is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 14 deals in the last 12 months, 2 six-figure+deals, and 32 overall.  Recent deals include 10 picture books, 2 middle grade, 1 young adult, 1 graphic novel.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Some highlighted deals can also be found here.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Query only ONE agent at the Andrea Brown Agency.

Send a brief query in the body of an e-mail.  Put QUERY and the title of the work in the subject line.  Include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits (if applicable). Note if it’s multiple submission.  No attachments.

PB: Include full text.  Fiction:  Include first ten pages.  NF: Proposal and sample chapter.  Illustrators:  Two to three jpegs of children and animals.  

See the Andrea Brown Literary Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines, as well the agency's General Advice and Do's and Don'ts.

Query Tip:

"Professionalism is key in query letters. Remember that this is a business relationship and everything you do should tell us that you’d be a professional, courteous person to work with. We take on clients with the expectation that we will be with them throughout their careers, so we want to know we can work with you." (Link

Response Times:

If you have not heard back in 6-8 weeks assume rejection. (Link) Ms. Sonnack’s response time on requested material appears to range from days to a month or so.

What's the Buzz?

Kelly Sonnack is a highly respected agent at a top-notch agency.  Her clients seem quite happy with her representation.  Though she reps PB-YA, she has a soft spot for picture books and is listed as a top deal-maker on PM for them.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Pre-Conference interview with Kelly Sonnack at SCBWI Midsouth (09/2010).

Interview with Kelly Sonnack by Brenda Sturgis at Suite 101 (09/2010).

Audio Interview with Kelly Sonnack and Elizabeth Gilbert at Pen on Fire (02/2010).

Voices on Writing: Kelly Sonnack Discusses Writing and Publishing for the Younger Set at ASJA (12/2009).

Agent Advice interview with Kelly Sonnack at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (03/2009).

SHALLA Chats with Kelly Sonnack. Note: She was still with the Dijkstra Agency, so disregard the submission information.

Around the Web:

Andrea Brown Literary Agency thread on AW.

Andrea Brown Literary on P&E (recommended). Kelly Sonnack on P&E.

Big Sur Writers Workshop the Andrea Brown Agency hosts.

SCBWI conference notes on Kelly Sonnack about revising at SCBWI Midsouth (09/2010).

2009 SCBWI Conference Recap featuring notes on Kelly Sonnack at Beverley BevenFlorez’s blog (08/2009).

Query Tips from Kelly Sonnack from a 2009 SCBWI conference at the Literally Human blog (05/2009).

The Dos and Don’ts of Submitting to a Literary Agent from a 2009 SCBWI at Ingrid’s Notes (04/2009).

Contact:

Please see the Andrea Brown Literary Agency website or Ms. Sonnack's Publisher's Marketplace page for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 2/16/2011

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Reviewed By Agent? Yes – 2/17/2011

Comments: N/A

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Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Is it Really Ready?

In yesterday's comments, PJ Hoover mentioned that's it's hard to know when a manuscript is ready for querying.  "Is it ever ready?" she asked.  As I responded there, no, it's never going to be 100% ready.  You could revise and rewrite something your entire life.  Truly, you could.  But I think we often know in our gut if we're jumping the gun, if we're skimping on revisions or edits or passes we know we should do. 

I honestly believe there's a point you get to, when you've done everything you can with the help and resources you have available, where you can be reasonably confident it's ready.  You've revised, you've had the MS read and critiqued, you've revised again, you've line edited, you've set it aside for awhile and tweaked it yet again, and you can read through it and enjoy it without pause, without wanting to stop and adjust.  If you're not feeling pretty darn confident it's ready to go, it's probably not ready to go. 

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up my Google Reader and found a new post by Darcy Patterson of Fiction Notes (previously Revision Notes) called "How Many Times Do You Revise?"  She shares some of the same sentiments and puts it better than I ever could - check it out!  Actually, check out the entire Fiction Notes site.  There is post after post of golden advice on revision.  I could post a linkfest of favorites.

I feel I have to add a disclaimer here, I've never queried - none of my projects have been ready (I can say that with certainty).  So I'd like to elicit the opinion of those who have experience on both sides, do you agree or disagree with my feelings on this?   How did you know (or not know) your manuscript was ready for querying?

Wednesday's Word Count

As weird of a week as I've had (a bit off schedule), I'm surprisingly okay with it being Wednesday today. I'm not okay with the fact that next Wednesday is the first of July. Oi.

Prior Goal: 10 revised pages a day and swap with Heather.

Accomplished: 59 pages - sort of.

Goal for new week: 10 revised pages a day.

Excuses / comments: I'm having some structural and plot problems, so I've had to brainstorm and then go back to rewrite sections I had already revised (hence the sort of). It's pretty exciting though - this second draft is quickly becoming a stranger to the first. I'm definitely not going to have my first pass of revisions done by the 30th like I wanted but I'm going to truck on and try to do as much as I can. Once I hit that date, a new goal will be set (if you haven't noticed, goals keep me sane).

Since I'm in the deep end of it, I'd love to hear about your processes for revision. How do you tackle it? How long do you generally devote to the whole shebang?

Preparing to Query

Samantha Clark, who chimed in on yesterday's conversation, wrote a fabulous post today called "Preparation is Key."  She reminds writers that we generally only have one shot with each agent (or agency as it may be) for each project (an intimidating notion if you have a short list of agents), and gives great advice on making sure your manuscript is ready and that you've done the proper research. 

Towards the bottom of the post, Samantha admits she previously sent out work that wasn't ready and was "roundly rejected."  This happens to A LOT of writers, and for many, that's the way they learn to write a better book, to take the process seriously, and to do the research they didn't do before.

I can't guarantee you'll get published by following "the rules" - this business is subjective and relies on writing a publishable book, after all - and I can't guarantee you won't have to write another book (or three) to develop the required skills to do so, but you might be able to save yourself some time, rejection, and grief by stepping up your game and removing any and all avoidable mistakes from your journey to publication.  Like querying before you're really ready.

Check out Samantha's blog, Day By Day Writer, and make sure to wish her the best on her newly well-prepared-for search for representation.

Reseaching Literary Agents

Elanja Johnson did a fabulous post on researching literary agents by utilizing QueryTracker on the QueryTracker blog today. There's also a bit about personalizing queries.

Something I'd like to reiterate is that you owe it to yourself (and it's a courtesy to the agents you're querying) to try to find a good match.

I realize that it's hard to find information on some agents. If you feel you must give these agents a shot, I'd recommend you know (at least) what genres they represent (yours?) and whether or not they have legitimate sales and/or a respectable seat in publishing. If you can't find even this information, why are they on your list? And if you're going to query an agent with this amount of information, do yourself a favor, have a prepared list of questions in case THE CALL does come.

I constantly see writers out there cold-firing queries, doing little-to-no research, and/or accepting the first offer they receive without question, and it just doesn't make sense to me. I can understand the desire to obtain representation and to get published but not the desire to get published no matter what. Personally, I want the best for myself, my books, and my expected career as an author. You should too. The goal is not to be a one-hit wonder, it's to build a career, and you're going to need strong, lasting relationships to make the most of it.

My closing advice: If you query all your great, good, and decent matches and still don't have representation, don't query everyone else under the publishing sun, write a new book or extensively rewrite.

Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to open up a friendly discussion in the comments.

And thank you, Elanja, for the great post!


A Morning Conversation

I'm sitting in front of my computer with the music turned down really low. I look over at Jesse. "Honey, I have a confession to make."

"Having an affair?"

"No. I've kind of become a fan of the Jonas Brothers. Well, I like a few of their songs..."

*Pause*

"I'm not sure that's better."

Happy Father's Day!

Jesse came home with a new set of pots and pans on Friday and said, "Happy Father's Day!'

Well, shoot. That was easy. Don't you love a man that loves to cooks and buys himself nice cookware? Add the gifts from the kids and me this morning, and I'd say he's having a good day so far.

But the family time is what really matters! I'm off to cook him breakfast and then we're going over to my dad's for a cook out.

Should be a lovely day. Hope yours is too!

Personalizing Queries

As you know, I'm all about promoting agent research and personalizing queries, but there are good ways of doing it and bad ways of doing it.  I've been meaning to do a post on this, but until then, check out this post.  Jennifer Jackson addresses mentioning a book from an agent's list in your query at her blog, Et in arcaedia, ego

Friday Teen Files

When you're in high school and you work at a pet store, you start wearing stuff like this around your neck.  Or, well, I did...

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Agent Spotlight: Daniel Lazar

This week's Agent Spotlight features Dan Lazar of Writers House.

gettyface About: “Daniel Lazar is a senior agent at Writers House, one of the industry's largest and oldest literary agencies. His list includes a variety of commercial and literary fiction for children and adults. For children's books, he represents primarily middle grade and YA. Recent and upcoming titles include Newbery Honor-winner Savvy by Ingrid Law (Dial/Walden); The Last Invisible Boy by Evan Kuhlman (Atheneum); Billy Bones by Chris Lincoln (Little Brown); Mike Steller: Nerves of Steel by KA Holt (Random House); and The Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin).” (Link)

Status: Open to submissions, actively seeking new clients.

What He's Looking For:

From Publisher’s Marketplace:

“I'm always on the lookout for distinct fiction and great, lively non-fiction. I represent adult and children's books (and for children's books, I focus mainly on middle grade and YA). For fiction, I love stories that introduce me to new worlds -- or even better, recreate the ones I may already know. I also especially love historical fiction of all kinds. For non-fiction, I enjoy memoirs, narrative non-fiction, all stripes and studies of pop-culture, and even small gifty books that strike my fancy and make me smile. I'm a huge fan of graphic novels and memoirs. And as the oldest child of six who has changed many, many diapers in his life, I'm equally intrigued by any book with unique views on parenting and family life.

“If you think your pages can make me hold my breath or miss my subway stop or even laugh out loud, please read my submission guidelines and check out some of my clients' books listed below. I'd love to hear from you.” (Link)

From an Interview (07/2010):

“In terms of kids books, I'm really open to anything so long as the writer is excited to be sending it. From the serious (see my client Ann Leal's ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER) to the very funny and out-there (see HOW TO GROW UP AND RULE THE WORLD by Vodak The Incomprensible or BRAINS FOR LUNCH by K.A. Holt), it's all welcome. I also love graphic novels, such as my books THE POPULARITY PAPERS, DORK DIARIES and MEANWHILE-- graphic books find a wider audience more easily with kids (no surprise, kids are smarter!) so I'd love to find more talent in that world.” (Link)

From an Interview (09/2009):

“I often describe my list as ‘books about weird kids in small towns.’ While that's not entirely true, it does point to a general theme. I'm interested in "outsiders" and visceral settings. My books LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY or SAVVY or DISMANTLED are terrific examples. I often find myself less interested in stories set in New York, maybe because I live here. But my book DUMBFOUNDED is an equally terrific example of a writer who cast New York City in a fabulous new light, and as a reader--and agent-- I just ate it up.” (Link)

What He Isn't Looking For:

Mr. Lazar does not rep picture books, cookbooks, romance and serious how-to titles. (Link)

About the Agency:

"Writers House was founded in 1973 with a vision for a new kind of literary agency, one that would combine a passion for managing a writer's career with an integrated understanding of how storytelling works. With this two-pronged philosophy, Writers House has played a critical role in developing the careers of hundreds of novelists and non-fiction authors. We believe in offering our clients not only our expertise in negotiating contracts, but in contributing to all phases of the editorial and publishing processes. Our goal is to maximize the value of our clients' work by providing hands-on editorial and marketing advice, as well as leading the way in branding, licensing, and selling film/TV, foreign, audio, dramatic and serial rights." (Link)

"The Writers House children's book department, started by Amy Berkower in 1978, has grown to include seven agents representing many of our industry's most lauded and successful authors. Our list includes popular series like THE TWILIGHT SAGA, SWEET VALLEY HIGH, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE, THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS and JUNIE B. JONES -- as well as eight Newbery and Newbery Honor award-winning clients: Sharon Creech, Cynthia Voigt, Cynthia Rylant, Robin McKinley, Susan Patron, Neil Gaiman, Ingrid Law and Grace Lin. Writers House is also proud to represent the first two American authors to win Britain's prestigious Carnegie Award - Creech and Jennifer Donnelly; Christopher Paolini, who, at 20, is one of the youngest authors to hit the New York Times bestseller list; and the late Joan Lowery Nixon, the only four-time Edgar Award Winner recipient." (Link)

Dislikes (Don’ts):

"Characters that are moving around doing little things, but essentially nothing. Washing dishes & thinking, staring out the window & thinking, tying shoes, thinking ... Authors often do this to transmit information, but the result is action in a literal sense but no real energy in a narrative sense. The best rule of thumb is always to start the story where the story starts.” (Link)

"A cheesy hook drives me nuts. They say 'Open with a hook!' to grab the reader. That's true, but there's a fine line between an intriguing hook and one that's just silly. An example of a silly hook would be opening with a line of overtly sexual dialogue. Or opening with a hook that's just too convoluted to be truly interesting." (Link)

"Writers who will have a lawyer send you something ‘on their behalf.’ It's ridiculous, and you also can't get a sense of the author's voice, which is what the letter's all about." (Link)

His Advice to Writers:

“Resist the temptation to finish your manuscript, raise a glass of champagne, and hit ‘Send.’ Force yourself to close the document. File it away in your computer or put it in the back of your closet under the old jeans, and don't look at it for 2 weeks minimum. As the World's Most Impatient Guy, I know how very hard this can be, but I find that some time away from a project always sheds new light on what more can be improved. Don't send that manuscript out until you're so sick of looking at it, you'd rather give away one of your children than bear the prospect of changing even a comma.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Yes. "I often do a lot of editorial work on my books before submitting them." (Link)

Web Presence:

Writers House website.

Publisher's Marketplace page.

Twitter.

WeBook.

AAR.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

Tiffany Baker, Oscar Bennett, Doug Brown, Pat Carlin, Joel Chasnoff, Tish Cohen, Janine Driver, Anne Fortier, Anna Hays, K.A. Holt, Denise Joyce, Martin Kihn, Evan Kuhlman, Ingrid Law, Chris Lincoln, Betty Londergan, Matt Mason, Jennifer McMahon, Regina O'Melveny, Michelle Moran, Theo Pauline Nestor, Matt Rothschild, Kari Anne Roy, Rachel Renee Russell, Scott Seegert, Bob Sullivan, Candy Tan, Nancy Watkins, Sarah Wendell, among others.

Sales:

As of 02/11, Mr. Lazar is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 12 deals in the last 12 months, 21 six-figure+ deals, and 113 overall. Recent deals include: 4 debut fiction, 2 general fiction, 2 narrative non-fiction, 1 advice/relationship non-fiction, 2 middle grade, 1 picture book.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (preferred & faster response).

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

E-mail: Send a query letter and the first 5 pages of your manuscript in the body of the e-mail. No attachments.

Snail-mail: Send a query letter and the first 5 pages of your manuscript with a SASE. "…no need to send materials double sealed in bubble wrap. It's paper, not anthrax." (Link)

Do not query more than one agent within Writers House at a time. For complete, up-to-date submission guidelines see the agency website and Mr. Lazar's Publisher's Marketplace page.

Query Tips:

“It's all about specifics. Too many queries default to broad strokes or to the "What if, what if, what if" series of questions. A good query doesn't have to cover every point of a book's plot. But it needs to give a sense of atmosphere and sensibility, and the best way to do that is with specific details.” (Link)

There’s also a great post of Query Dos and Don’ts by Mr. Lazar at The Guide To Literary Agents blog.

Response Times:

“We respond to every query -- you'll hear from me or my assistant. And our response time is 1 minute to several weeks.” (Link)

Stats on the web suggest Mr. Lazar almost always responds to queries within mintes to a week but there are occasional instances where it takes longer. Response times on requested material range from days to weeks.

What's the Buzz?

Daniel Lazar is a highly respected, successful agent at one of the largest and most prominent literary agencies around. He has an amazing client list, impressive history of sales, and is popular among aspiring authors. You can follow him on Twitter to see what he and his clients are up to.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Dan Lazar at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2010).

Q&A with Literary Agent Dan Lazar at Examiner.com (09/2009).

Q&A with Four Young Literary Agents at Poets and Writers (02/2009).

Interview with Dan Lazar of Writers House at the Algonkian Writer Conferences site (pre mid-2009).

Interview with Daniel Lazar at Writer Unboxed (09/2007).

Around the Web:

Agent Dan Lazar On: Query Dos and Don’ts at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (11/2010).

Successful Queries: Agent Dan Lazar and “The Bells” at Guide to Literary Agents (09/2010).

Dan Lazar: How to Craft a Winning Query Letter at the SCBWI blog (08/2009).

One of Mr. Lazar’s client's, Chandler Craig, shares her experience getting THE CALL (09/2008).

2008 ALA Article Excerpt over at the Guide to Literary Agents blog featuring Dan Lazar on pitching (09/2007).

Mr. Lazar answers a question about the publishing climate at A View From the Top (04/2007).

Mr. Lazar answers a Symposium Question on “Pitching Editors" at AgentQuery.

Mr. Lazar answers a Symposium Question "When Agents Call" at AgentQuery.

Fabulous rant by Daniel Lazar on Kristen Nelson's blog, Pub Rants (04/2006).

Dan Lazar on P&E ($ AAR). Writers House on P&E ($ Highly Recommended).

Writers House thread on Absolute Write.

Contact:

Please see Mr. Lazar's Publisher's Marketplace page for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 2/17/2011

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Reviewed By Agent? Yes - 2/17/2011

Comments: N/A

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Wednesday's Word Count

Wow. Wednesday really snuck up on me this week.

(Does anyone else have a hard time using the word "sneaked"?)

Prior Goal: 8-10 revised pages a day and swap with Heather.

Accomplished: 50ish.

Goal for new week: 10 revised pages a day.

Excuses / comments: Still doing good. I've reached 100 pages in my MS. Things are slowing down though. I've reached the quagmire of my novel so revisions are taking longer. I think I have to do approximately 10 pages a day to meet my (current) goal. There are only 14 days left this month!

How are you doing? What writing goals are you tackling this summer? Virtual cookies and confetti for everyone making progress despite the call of summer!

Procrastinating

Have you been to this site? Inkygirl.com Daily Diversions for Writers. Some of her comics are genius. Here is another favorite.

Bigger or Better

Some kids down the street are playing a game called "Bigger or Better" for a birthday party. The idea is that they go door-to-door trading up whatever they have for something, well, bigger... or better.

Naturally, when they showed up at the door with a Kungfu Panda toy, I gave them a book. Bigger and better, right? I think so.

So... right now the kids across the street are getting some Roald Dahl in exchange for a Raiders hat (yup, I'm spying), and very soon Goodwill will be receiving a toy panda.

Too cool.

: )

So Tell Me: Who Got Your Querginity?

If you don't mind saying, who was the first agent (or editor) you ever queried?  Why?

KT Literary Live Blogging Queries!

Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary has been live-blogging as she goes through her queries today (she does this every so often). I recall telling someone I'd post if she did it again, so... here you have it!

I enjoyed reading her notes. Some of them are insightful!

Friday Teen Files

007Jr. high was easily one of the worst periods of my life.  I didn't have an easy time of it.  At all.  But what's that saying?  Something good always comes out of something bad?  That's true in this case.  Jr. high was when my love of books began.  Mrs. Robbins, the librarian, took me in.  She made me her TA, gave me a sanctuary, and encouraged me to find solace in other worlds.  I lost my troubles in the fantasy section of that library.  

She was such a wonderful woman.  Frequently, she would excuse me from PE (which I was having trouble with due to a yet-undiscovered medical problem) on the basis that she needed more "help" for the extra hour.  Sometimes she excused me because I came to her crying.  I would shelve books or run around passing out overdue notices, other times, we would just sit and talk.  She meant more to me than she probably ever knew. 

004Anyway, as I was looking through my jr. high year books, she was the person that stood out to me the most.  Forget all those teachers I hardly remember.  Forget all my peers (except my still-bff, Tiffany).  Forget that poor kid I stalked for two years (sorry, Ace!).  My time with Mrs. Robbins in that school library now defines my middle school years. 

Things would improve infinitesimally for me in 9th grade, and I'd like to think her support and encouragement played into that.  Not to mention the role she's played in my love of books and writing.

Have you had a librarian touch your life?

Agent Spotlight: Marietta B. Zacker

This week's Agent Spotlight features Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency.

Status: Accepting submissions.

Marietta 4-6-11 07 Lo Res Color About: "Marietta has professionally experienced every aspect of children’s books for over 15 years, working with authors, illustrators, publishers, educators and readers. As an agent, she is passionate about bringing those worlds together. She represents authors whose words make her pause, shiver or laugh out loud and illustrators who add a completely different dimension to the story being told. Marietta approaches her work with the knowledge that there are remarkable books of all genres, targeted to all ages, just waiting to be discovered." (Link)

She is also the book curator at Sparkhouse, an independent toy and book store in her hometown of South Orange, NJ.

About the Agency:

"The Nancy Gallt Literary Agency focuses on developing and finding the right home for the work of some of the most talented writers and illustrators in the children’s book industry. Established in 2000 by Nancy Gallt, and later joined by Marietta B. Zacker, we aim to bring to life stories and artwork that help young readers throughout the world become life-long book enthusiasts. We represent authors and illustrators who share and, through their work, exemplify that vision." (Link)

Web Presence:

Nancy Gallt Literary website.

Twitter.

AgentQuery & QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres / Specialties:

Children's books only including picture books, board books, easy readers, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, non-fiction, historical fiction, graphic novels, fantasy, edgy, as well as illustrators and author-illustrators.  (Link, Link)

From an Interview (02/2010):

"Work that moves me – whether through words, illustrations or both. I look for manuscripts and illustrations that speak to the rich, complex, diverse world we live in and hope to work with people that are just as passionate as I am about the vital function children’s books serve in our society." (Link)

From an Interview (06/2009):

"I hope to help usher in a set of voices and depictions that will allow children and young adults of all backgrounds, ethnicities and countries to see themselves within the pages of our books. It is imperative that the voices and illustrations represent the population of children and young adults who crave to find themselves in the books they read - authentic voices and illustrations that move us beyond the stereotypes and are as real as the world we live in." (Link)

From Conference Notes (06/2009):

"Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot at these things when we tell a room full of writers what we love. Then all of a sudden we are bombarded with MS only about that. Often times, I don’t know what I want until I read it. I want something good." (Link).

What She Isn’t Looking For:

Ms. Zacker does not represent adult fiction or adult non-fiction.

Quotables:

"I want to see more depiction of what’s outside our world – true ethnicity, true representation of our populations. ALL kids need to be represented in books. More authentic ethnicity is needed." (Link)

"I always encourage clients to have a presence somewhere on the web, but to do what feels right for them. I think it's difficult to do it all well, so if branding yourself on the internet is new to you, I think it's best to take one social networking avenue at a time. I also feel it's important to remember that there are plenty of people who have mastered different aspects of the internet, so you should reach out to those who know more - again, especially when getting started. And although I feel it's extremely important to have a web presence, my decision to represent a client is not based on whether they do or do not have that presence." (Link)

Her advice to Writers:

"Write what you love, write what keeps you up at night, write what you know, write what you want to find out, but most importantly, write." (Link)

"Use your critique groups to revise, revise, revise before sending it [your manuscript] to an agent..." (Link)

"Please sit at a library or bookstore, go to the genre which you are currently writing for, start with A and just read. When you are tired, leave, come back the next day or week and pick up where you left off. Keep doing that until you get to Z." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

"I love the process of writing and illustrating as much as I love connecting the dots. I love talking through issues that are not quite ironed out in manuscripts or projects, zeroing in on places where things need to be tweaked and helping writers and illustrators put their best foot forward. However, it is also true that I neither want to be a member of the person’s critique group nor take the place of an editor who will take the book in the direction that works best for them and their publishing house. These are fine lines to walk, to be sure and sometimes difficult to discern." (Link)

Peeves/Dislikes:

"When people hide behind the veil of professionalism when querying - never realizing that by stripping their personality and their writing ability from this first impression, they deny themselves the opportunity of being discovered.  I expect queries to be polished, yes, but also to give me an insight into the writer AND the writing; stock queries are 'for the birds." (via e-mail)

Clients:

There are lists of Nancy Gallt Literary clients on the website

Ms. Zacker's clients include: Ann Bonwill, Stephanie Barden, Carin Bramsen, Frances Lee Hall, Dawn Lairimore, Laura Murray, Nathalie Mvondo, Dean Robbins, Israel Sanchez, Stephanie Sanders, Elizabeth Schoonmaker, and Hilary Wagner, among others.

Sales:

Ms. Zacker is not a member of Publisher's Marketplace, but she has confirmed sales and successful clients.

Query Methods:

E-mail: No.

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: Yes.

Response Times:

The agency only responds if interested.  Stated response time is 6 weeks.  If you do not hear back, assume rejection.  Response times on requested material range from a month to quite a few. 

Submission Guidelines (always verify)

Electronic: See the submissions form on the Nancy Gallt website.

Snail-mail: Send a query and the first five pages (or complete picture book manuscript) with a SASE.

See the Nancy Gallt Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines including other submission particulars. 

Query Tips:

"...Please don’t pretend that we don’t know you. Indicate that you had once submitted before and now you are submitting again. I don’t know why some writers think they can pretend like we don’t know you or won’t remember you. We will. So, just mention it in your query." (Link)

What's the Buzz?

Ms. Zacker joined Nancy Gallt Literary and became an agent in early 2009, but she has over 15 years experience in the children's book industry.  She has a  growing list of clients and sales and has made a fabulous impression on the writing community with her passion and wit.  She has a unique view of the industry being both an agent and an indie bookstore curator.  Follow her on Twitter for updates and insight.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Zacker and found her to be very nice, communicative, and gracious. See the interview here.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Marietta Zacker at Middle Grade Ninja (02/2011).

2011 Conference Series-Agent Faculty: Marietta Zacker at Chinook Update (03/2011).

An Agent's Thoughts on Series, an Interview with Marietta Zacker at Through the Toll Booth (05/2010).

Five Questions with Marietta Zacker at Kelly Polar's blog (03/2010).

Marketing to Indies, an Interview with Marietta Zacker at Market My Words (02/2010).

Impromptu Q&A with Marietta Zacker at client Hillary Wagner's blog. Lots of great info (12/2009).

Interview with Marietta Zacker by Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now (10/2009).

Interview with Marietta Zacker right here at Literary Rambles (06/2009).

Around the Web:

Nancy Gallt Literary thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Live chat transcript with Marietta Zacker, Ammi Joan-Paquet, and Michael Bourret at WriteOnCon (08/2011).

Highlights of the SCBWI Western WA, 2011, conference notes including Ms. Zacker at Susan Boase’s site. (04/2011).

A Night with Three Agents, article by Melanie Hope Greenberg at SCBWI NY Metro News (2011).

SCBWI Conference blog notes here and here from SCBWI-LA 09 (08/2009).

Tara Lazar offers a summary of the SCBWI-NJ conference with quotes by Ms. Zacker (06/2009).

Sheri Perl-Oshins also has a great summary of the SCBWI-NJ conference with information and quotes regarding Ms. Zacker (06/2009).

Contact:

Please see the Nancy Gallt Literary website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 9/12/11.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 8/29/11.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Wednesday's Word Count

Happy Wednesday! Are you ready to report in?

Prior Goal: Swap 8-10 revised pages a day with Heather.

Accomplished: Four out of seven days and 40 pages.

Goal for new week: 8-10 revised pages a day.

Excuses / comments: I had company through the weekend so I took Friday, Sat, and Sun off, but otherwise, Heather and I are doing great (well, I think so). I have to re-revise a few scenes, but, not counting those, I've got about 40 decent pages under my belt for this round.

How are YOU doing? Is the start of summer affecting your writing? I feel like I really need to get out with my kids more, so it might start taking a toll on my goals.

Agent News: Evan Goldfried joins Jill Grinberg Lit

Here is the announcement that was in Publisher's Lunch:

Evan Goldfried
has joined Jill Grinberg Literary Management as an agent after five years at William Morris. He is representing genre fiction and graphic novels for all ages, as well as nonfiction including food, health, humor and pop culture.


The Jill Grinberg Lit Management web site still isn't up, but Mr. Goldfried's Query Tracker, Lit Match, and Agent Query profiles have been updated to reflect the change.

Special interests on AQ include:

Smart spy thrillers (Charles McCarry). Huge sff series, Dark Tower, Sword of Truth, etc. Upmarket genre fiction, something with a unique and fantastical twist a la REPLAY by Ken Grimwood (one of my favorites). YA for boys, like Percy Jackson or Artemis Fowl. Anything with series potential, because I love revisiting characters. Anything set in Asia (or abroad), particularly Japan. Jewish literature. Mythology. And graphic novels, which I've been reading since I was a kid.

Good luck!

Payback Required

Speaking of my teen years...

My family owns a book that details some of our family history on my mom's side.  For whatever reason, there was a week or so in high school I took it to school with me.  One of my guy friends was looking through it and discovered someone in my ancestry had married someone with his last name.  Musing ensued.  From then on, we called each other "cousin." 

Fast forward to last night.  I have family visiting from out of town.  We went out to dinner.  My "cousin" was there eating with his girlfriend.  I hadn't seen him in a few years. 

As he was leaving, he stopped by the table and said, "If they think it's your birthday, I'm sorry."

"Whaaaaa?"

Guess what happened.  Yeah.  Thanks cousin. 

Before we left I asked one of the waitresses, "Does Bryce work here?"

"Yup."

Bingo. 

Friday Teen Files

When I wasn't dashing off crazy bubble charts about myself, I was doodling in class. Extensively. 

015 copy

Why yes, that does say "Bubble Under Fire."  No, I wasn't on drugs.  Thanks for asking.

Agent Spotlight: Jennifer Rofe

This week's Agent Spotlight features Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc

JenRofeAbout: “Jennifer handles children's fiction projects ranging from picture books to young adult. Middle grade is Jennifer's soft spot and she's open to all genres in this category, especially the tender or hilarious. She is always looking for fresh and distinct voices; stories that simultaneously tug at her heartstrings and make her laugh out loud; and unassuming, ‘adorkable’ heroes. As for YA, Jennifer is drawn to contemporary works; dramatic or funny romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. She's especially interested in mind-blowingly smart projects that are layered, complex, and unexpected. In terms of picture books, early readers, and chapter books, she is interested in character-driven projects and smart, exceptional writing. Jennifer also enjoys how-to and sports-related nonfiction.

“Some of Jennifer's clients include Laurie David and Cambria Gordon, authors of the critically acclaimed nonfiction THE DOWN TO EARTH GUIDE TO GLOBAL WARMING (Scholastic); Crystal Allen, author of HOW LAMAR'S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA SIZED TROPHY (HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray); Kathryn Fitzmaurice, author of THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY (HarperCollins) and DIAMOND IN THE DESERT (forthcoming, Viking); Denise Doyen, author of the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor picture book ONCE UPON A TWICE (Random House); Barry Wolverton, author of NEVERSINK: A PUFFIN SAGA (forthcoming, HarperCollins); Cynthea Liu, author of PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE (Penguin) and founder of Authors Now!; and Lauren Strasnick, author of NOTHING LIKE YOU (S&S/Simon Pulse), HER AND ME AND YOU (S&S/Simon Pulse) and DAKOTA WEBB IS MISSING (forthcoming, S&S/Simon Pulse).

“Jennifer is co-author of the picture book PIGGIES IN THE PUMPKIN PATCH (Charlesbridge). She has been on faculty for several conferences including the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and San Diego State University conferences, the Big Sur Writer's Workshop, and multiple SCBWI conferences. Jennifer earned a BA in English with a minor in Social and Ethnic Relations from UC Davis and has a background in secondary education.” (Link)

Status: Open to submissions.

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties: Children’s books, picture book through young adult fiction; select how-to and sports non-fiction.

From her Bio:

“Middle grade is Jennifer's soft spot and she's open to all genres in this category, especially the tender or hilarious. She is always looking for fresh and distinct voices; stories that simultaneously tug at her heartstrings and make her laugh out loud; and unassuming, ‘adorkable’ heroes. As for YA, Jennifer is drawn to contemporary works; dramatic or funny romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. She's especially interested in mind-blowingly smart projects that are layered, complex, and unexpected. In terms of picture books, early readers, and chapter books, she is interested in character-driven projects and smart, exceptional writing. Jennifer also enjoys how-to and sports-related nonfiction..” (Link)

From an Interview (12/2010):

“I am very interested in smart, young adult books, urban fantasy, maybe even commercial-historical young adult. I love all sorts of middle-grade projects:  literary, commercial, quirky, contemporary.

“I also have a personal fascination for extreme religion.  I would love a project about a kid growing up in an extreme religion who, for one reason or another, decides to find his or her way out of it and what that entails.  Because, if it's something you were raised in and that's all you know and believe, what does it take for a young adult to move away from that?  What are the repercussions from your family and community?” (Link)

From an Interview (10/2010):

“I'm interested in picture books and early readers, but they have to be exceptional and unique. I love smart, beautiful picture books like the E.B. White Read Aloud Honor book Once Upon a Twice by my client Denise Doyen (illustrated by Barry Moser). I also like character-driven picture books in the vein of Olivia, and I'm open to character-driven early readers and chapter books.

“In terms of middle grade, I like it all—classic and timeless, funny and zany, literary and commercial. I have a soft spot for middle grade and am always on the lookout for strong manuscripts in any genre.

“I'm much pickier with YA. I find so much YA to be angst-y and dark, and I'm not up for reading these stories every day. That being said, I'm interested in contemporary YA, commercial or literary; dramatic or funny romance; and urban fantasy/light sci-fi. I'd especially like to see something mind-blowingly smart; something layered and complex and unexpected. Also, I'm presently obsessed with the DAIRY QUEEN series and would love to read something in a similar vein.”  (Link)

From an Interview (02/2008):

"I'm most interested in fiction from picture books through YA, and I find myself drawn to projects that are literary, commercial-with-heart, and/or funny. I like multicultural, magical realism, paranormal, and reality-based fantasy.

"In terms of chapter books through YA, I have a soft spot for stubborn girls who are softies at heart and underdog boys who do something brave. I like stories with emotional depth--ones that make me laugh or cry. I'm a fan of coming of age stories. I'm a big fan of middle grade/tween, and I'm currently interested in acquiring a middle grade boy adventure. Something gritty.

"In regards to picture books, I like unique. For example, I recently sold a picture book to Random House (Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen) that is a 'cautionary tale for mice' written in the nonsense style of Jabberwocky. I also like slight picture books (under 900 words)." (Link

What She Isn't Looking For:

Poetry, screenplays, adult projects.

About the Agency:

"We are a mid-size literary agency based in California celebrating over 2,000 titles sold. We bring the best of both worlds to the table—the personal client attention of a small agency and the clout of a larger one. We invest a great deal of care in each project and each client. We devise a strategy at every stage of the writing process, from conception, to editorial, to publication, that is tailored to the client and will enable us to find the best publisher for his or her books. We are seeking long-term relationships with writers and illustrators whose careers we can develop and whose talent we can foster." (Link)

Quotables:

"I'm in regular contact with my clients, but it really depends on what phase a certain project is in and how the client prefers to work. For instance, I have clients who prefer receiving editorial comments via email and others who like to discuss them. For the most part, I typically communicate via email, but I call with good news and to discuss contract terms. I'm looking to build long-term, collaborative relationships with my clients."  (Link)

“I need to know if a prospective client is willing and able to revise – if not, then I won’t be able to work with the writer and I certainly won’t be able to connect her with an editor, who will expect revisions. I also consider how many projects/works in progress the writer has and if she is knowledgeable of the industry, belongs to a critique group of some sort, and is willing to spend time marketing her book once it’s published.” (Link)

"One myth that I wish they'd [writers] forget is that agents acquire only big-name authors. It's not true. In my case, the vast majority of my clients are (or were) first-time authors. I enjoy working with new talent and helping them build careers. I find it enormously gratifying." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

"I've never sent a manuscript to an editor without having worked on revisions with my clients. These revisions typically involve big picture issues, such as plot and subplot, character motivations, etc.  There are so many strong, compelling manuscripts on editors' desks that you don't want to give them any reason to reject yours." (Link

Pet-Peeves:

"My two greatest submissions pet peeves are queries that include no personalized greeting and queries for materials that I do not handle, such as adult literature or gory thrillers."  (Link)

“…educating the agents on the marketplace. I find often the first paragraph will say something like, ‘Kids really enjoy wizarding stories and that's why Harry Potter has been so successful.’ I know Harry Potter's successful. I know the marketplace. That's my job.

“Another pet peeve is telling me that your children and grandchildren and family members and/or students or the students of your teacher-friend all enjoyed the book. Certainly they did.

“Also, comparing your book to some of the best sellers is another pet peeve.  I see a lot of, ‘This is like the Alex Rider series,’ and, ‘This is like Harry Potter,’ and, ‘This is like Twilight.’” (Link)

Web Presence:

Andrea Brown Agency website.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

Crystal Allen, Mike Boldt, Tameka Brown, Laura Coffey, Laurie David, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Denise Doyen, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Cambria Gordon, Nick James, Cynthea Liu, Meg Medina, Ken Min, Joy Preble, Lauren Strasnick, Samantha Vamos, Barry Wolverton, among others.

There is also a select list of Andrea Brown Lit titles on the website.

Sales:

As of 02/11, Ms. Rofe is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 11 deals in the last 12 months, 1 six-figure+ deal, and 19 overall.  Recent deals include 5 young adult 3 middle grade, 3 picture book.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Some highlighted deals can also be found here.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Query only ONE agent at the Andrea Brown Agency.

Send a brief query in the body of an e-mail.  Put QUERY and the title of the work in the subject line.  Include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits (if applicable). Note if it’s multiple submission.  No attachments.

PB: Include full text.  Fiction:  Include first ten pages.  NF: Proposal and sample chapter.  Illustrators:  Two to three jpegs of children and animals.  

See the Andrea Brown Literary Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines, as well the agency's General Advice and Do's and Don'ts.

Response Times:

If you have not heard back in 6-8 weeks assume rejection. (Link) Ms. Rofe’s response time on requested material ranges from a week to a few months. 

What's the Buzz? 

Ms. Rofe is a highly respected agent at a top-notch agency.  Her clients aren't shy in praising her and many writers claim they'd love to have her as their agent.  Her particular interest in MG is refreshing.  She attends conferences regularly and is a popular speaker. 

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Agent Query Interview with Jennifer Rofe at Author Online (12/2010).

Agent Advice Interview with Jen Rofe at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (10/2010).

Expert Scoop with Jen Rofe at The Brown Bookshelf (01/2010).

Agent Interview Series: Jen Rofe at Class of 2K9 (07/2009).

Interview with Jen Rofe at Kidlit Central (11/2008).

Interview with Jennifer Rofe (Jaeger) at Cynsations (02/2008).

Around the Web:

Andrea Brown Literary Agency thread on AW.

Andrea Brown Literary on P&E (recommended).

Big Sur Writers Workshop that the Andrea Brown Agency hosts.

Agent Feedback on Jen Rofe here at Literary Rambles (03/2010).

Why my agent, Jen Rofe, is Awesome by Crystal Allen at Lisa and Laura Write (12/2009).

Agent Appreciation Day Post by client Cynthea Liu (12/2009).

Reasons for Optimism, conference notes at Fumbling with Fiction (04/2009).

Revision advice Ms. Rofe gave at at a SCBWI conference over at Writer Musings (11/2008).

Contact: 

Please see the Andrea Brown Literary Agency website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 2/15/2011

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Reviewed By Agent? Yes – 2/15/2011.

Comments: Added clients / Recent interview.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Wednesday's Word Count

It's time for the June-boggle. Are you boggling? It's June.

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I'm too lazy to do a roundup I'm too eager to get to my revisions to do a roundup today.  But know I'm keeping an eye on you -----------------------------------------> THE EYE. White

My report this Wednesday (in June!):

Prior Goal: Finish big changes.

Accomplished: Mostly...actually, pretty much, yes.  I got THOSE big changes done but now there are OTHERS.

Goal for new week:  Operation revision smack down begins.

Excuses / comments:  June is THE MONTH.  I'm participating in the Summer Revision Smack Down (also on Facebook), which is hosted by fabulousness and made of awesomesauce.  But not only that, Heather (who is also these things) and I have devised a new plan of torture action.  We're swapping eight to ten pages every day of our revision/rewrites with the goal of accountability, insanity, and to be done with our respective revisions by June 30th.  June is going to be four weeks of muchness.  So says I.  Now, WROCK it.

Please leave your goals of wrock for the week in the comments and beware the eye.