This week's Agent Spotlight features Mary Kole of Movable Type Management.
Status: Open to submissions.
About: "Mary Kole joins Movable Type from Andrea Brown Literary Agency, where she distinguished herself as an inventive and entrepreneurial agent. Among Mary’s books are Author/Illustrator Lindsay Wards’s When Blue Met Egg (Dial), Author/Illustrator Bethanie Murguia’s Zoe Gets Ready (Scholastic)— currently gracing the window displays of Scholastic’s flagship store on Broadway—Emily Hainsworth’s YA debut Through to You (Balzer+Bray), Karsten Knight’s Wildefire (S&S), Lisa Albert’s Mercy Lily (Flux), and Dianna Winget’s A Smidgen of Sky (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
“Beyond building an outstanding client list, Mary served the larger writing community: her popular blog KidLit.com is one of Writer’s Digest Top 100 Websites for Writers with over 50,000 readers per month, and her book Writing Irresistible Kidlit will be published this fall by F+W Media. Prior to becoming an agent, Mary worked as an editorial assistant at Chronicle Books, completed her MFA at the University of San Francisco, and worked in the startup world, developing apps for Handipoints and Slide, which was eventually acquired by Google.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“Movable Type Management provides inventive and expansive management services, working with authors in a wide variety of categories and genres to develop properties for distribution across platforms, devices, and territories. A bicoastal management company, MTM performs in-house film, television, and digital development, leveraging our relationships with digital start-ups and veteran producers to add value to an author’s work at every opportunity.” (Link)
What She's Looking For:
Children's picture books through young adult and author/illustrators.
Non-fiction: Food narrative, food memoir, and cookbooks.
From Her Bio (as of 7/2012:
"At this time, Mary is only considering young adult and middle grade novels and truly exceptional character-driven picture books (she especially loves working with author/illustrators). She's seeking fresh, unique voices and idiosyncratic characters who, by book's end, are more flesh than fiction. Her favorite stories are upmarket, high-concept, character-driven and well-plotted: they feature a mix of fast pacing, emotional resonance, and beautiful writing. In essence: literary spark with commercial appeal.
“While she's not interested in high fantasy (think Tolkien), she would love to consider character-driven fantasy (think GRACELING), dystopian (think HUNGER GAMES or FEED), realistic/contemporary, dark/edgy, urban fantasy, magical realism, horror, ghost, mystery, thriller, action/adventure, issue books, romance, light science fiction, and absolutely unique paranormal (no vampires or werewolves or Greek mythology). She has a dark and somewhat sarcastic sensibility, but also loves books that show us the many emotional layers of life (think HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT and John Green). Favorite themes include: family, home, unlikely heroes, discovering one's voice, and finding one's equilibrium after a big life event. Mary adores manuscripts that make her laugh, make her tear up or punch her in the gut. Ideally, one book can accomplish all three. She also loves YA stories of friendship, romance, and betrayal; manuscripts full of those "first time" moments that make teenage life electric and unforgettable.
“For all projects, voice and character development are absolutely essential, as is a high-concept or upmarket commercial premise. Make sure your manuscript is as strong and polished as possible (revised, revised after feedback, revised again)." (Link)
From her Blog Wish List (up as of 7/2012):
“YA thriller with lots of true twists and suspense (I can count on one hand the submissions that have actually made me gasp)
“Contemporary realism with either the voice of John Green, the character depth of Sara Zarr or the emotional appeal of Sarah Dessen…or all three in one! (Hint hint)
“Really edgy, dark YA with a real voice to match, though no edgy for edginess’ sake and no voices that are sarcastic just because, please
“Accessible but immersive MG or YA fantasy like Dianna Wynne Jones or Kristin Cashore
“High concept YA like HUNGER GAMES or BEFORE I FALL
“Psychologically devastating horror in the style of ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD
“YA ‘issue novel’ like WINTERGIRLS
“Intellectual dystopian YA that’s a little too close to home like FEED
“Incredible MG voice like LOVE, AUBREY or funny and classic MG like HOLES…or both in one book!” (Link – see sidebar)
What She Isn't Looking For:
High fantasy, hard sci-fi, early readers, chapter books, adult projects, dramatic works.
"I'm looking for a very hands-on and long-term relationship with each client. The best clients, to me, are writers who stay informed about the business and the market but who also yearn to grow, learn, and improve their craft. You can always tell when someone is a 'lifer' and can't imagine doing anything else. Their determination and their willingness to evolve are what will make these kinds of writers successful in today's changing publishing market." (Link)
Her Advice to Writers:
"Read, read, read, write, write, write. Writing is a journey and a craft. Most writers typing away today need to put their fevered rush to publication on the back burner. Too many people make that the goal and lose focus on the writing. Not everyone will be published and not everyone will be published as quickly as they’d like. Most really successful authors report that it took them five, ten, fifteen years to finally get on shelves. So focus on the writing and the reading. You learn how to write from reading, too." (Link)
"Read your butt off, grow a new butt and read it off again. Lather, rinse, repeat. A large chunk of my writing knowledge comes from my aggressive reading load. I read both published, unpublished and soon-to-be-published books. In doing so, I internalize plotting, character arc, tension, pacing, description, dialogue. Plus, for me, it's research. There's no excuse not to be reading voraciously within and outside of your chosen genre or market." (Link)
"I discuss a lot of query snafus on my blog, but the most ineffective queries, to me, aren't personalized, start with rhetorical questions or other gimmicks, and fail to make me care about the character at the heart of the story that's being pitched. Bad writing in a query also bodes to bad writing in the manuscript, so poorly-executed queries are a big red flag." (Link)
"Any kind of moralizing is an immediate turn-off. The people who succeed at writing for kids and teens respect their readership and acknowledge that this time in a person's life is just as rich, vibrant, smart and complicated as adulthood is." (Link)
"I’m highly editorial and give in-depth notes. Writers have little awareness of what makes a manuscript 'editor ready,' so it’s my job to get something in the best shape possible before submission. It’s not just the writer’s name on that manuscript, it’s mine, too. These days, it’s so difficult to get a manuscript through to acquisitions that it has to show up at the editor’s desk wearing a suit and tie." (Link)
As of 7/2012, Ms. Kole is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 5 deals in the last 12 months, 1 six-figure+ deal, and 22 overall. Recent deals include 3 international rights, 1 picture book, and 1 young adult.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
“Please send your query letter and the first 10 pages of your fiction OR your full picture book manuscript, depending on what you're writing, in the body of an email message. Your subject line needs to contain the word "Query" or your message will not reach me. Illustrators should please include a link to a place where I can view your work online. No attachments and no snail mail. Please send only your strongest projects, those that have been proofread, critiqued, revised, and polished!”
Please see the Movable Type Management website for Ms. Kole’s complete, up-to-date submission guidelines and e-mail address.
"I love short queries that make me care about the character and story. You can easily do this by presenting me with a compelling character, telling me what they want, what the stakes are if they don't get it, and the obstacles in their way. If you're having trouble identifying these elements in your story, you're in trouble." (Link)
"Make me care. A lot of queries don't tell me what's important to the character, what's at stake, how things go from bad to worse for them. People read to bond with people. Even if you've got a blockbuster plot, the character is still important because they're what will pull me into the other elements of your story. Focus on them. Keep things simple and brief. Also, I'm sure you have lovely children, pets, hobbies, anecdotes, pictures, friends ... but, no offense, unless they're directly related to your project, maybe leave them out of your pitch." (Link)
Ms. Kole responds to all submissions (except those that don’t personalize / follow guidelines) and usually responds within days to a couple weeks. Requested material usually receives a response within a month.
What's the Buzz?
Mary Kole moved from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency to Movable Type Management in May of 2012. She has a good list of clients who chose to follow her to the new agency and has made a decent number of sales.
Her presence on the web and willingness to help writers navigate the publishing industry has made her very popular in the kidlit community.
Definitely follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to get a feel for her personality and a first-class writing education. She participates in Twitter chats such as #yalitchat and does the occasional critique contest on her blog.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews and Q&As:
Agent Update: Mary Kole of Movable Type Management at Cynsations (06/2012).
Interview with Mary Kole at Five Scribes (01/2012).
An Interview with Mary Kole on the BBCHAT at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire (05/2011).
Q&A with Mary Kole at Megg Jensen’s site (03/2011).
Spotlight on Mary Kole at Kathleen Temean’s site (11/2010).
7 Questions For: Literary Agent Mary Kole at Middle Grade Ninja (09/2010).
Interview with Agent Mary Kole at YA Muses (09/2010).
Agent Interview: Mary Kole at Alice Pope's SCBWI Market Blog (08/2010).
Mary Kole, Amazing Agent and Badass at Throwing Up Words (08/2010).
Interview with Mary Kole at Market My Words (08/2010).
Interview with YA Agent Mary Kole Dark Angel’s blog (08/2010).
Interview Mary Kole at Cynsations (07/2010).
Interview with Mary Kole at Naomi Canale’s blog (05/2010).
Interview with an Agent: Mary Kole at MotherWrite (03/2010).
Interview with Mary Kole on urban fantasy at The Spectacle blog (01/2010).
Agent Advice Interview with Mary Kole at the Guide to Literary Agents (12/2009).
Interview with Literary Agent Mary Kole about revision posted on the NaNoWriMo blog (12/2010).
Interview with Mary Kole at the Editorial Department (12/2009).
There are waaay too many great posts at Ms. Kole’s blog to list. I recommend going through the archives to dig up posts related to queries, craft, and preferences. The categories and labels in the sidebar should help.
Around the Web:
You can join the agency mailing list here.
You can also join Ms. Kole’s mailing list on the sidebar of Kidlit.
Movable Type Management thread on AbsoluteWrite.
AbsoluteWrite thread for her former agency, Andrea Brown Literary Agency .
Ms. Kole’s book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit (due out Oct, 2012).
The Agent’s Role in Today’s Digital Book World at DBW (01/2011).
Secret Agent Unveiling – Mary Kole - at Miss Snark’s First Victim (see the entries that month for Ms. Kole’s comments) (01/2011).
Successful Queries: Agent Mary Kole and Wildfire at GLA (12/2010).
Agent Mary Kole On: Putting In the Time to Become a Good Writer at GLA (11/2010).
What ”Show, Don’t Tell” Really Means by Agent Mary Kole at GLA (09/2010).
Article with Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf about WriteOnCon (08/2010).
Avoiding Character Stereotypes vlog by Mary Kole at WriteOnCon (08/2010).
Live Panel featuring Mary Kole and others at WriteOnCon - press "replay" (08/2010).
Video featuring Ms. Kole at 2010 Highlights Foundation agent/editor panel at The Whole Megillah (05/2010).
Agent Day: Insight from Agent Mary Kole at Ingrid's Notes (05/2010).
Article Ms. Kole was interviewed for on using technology references in YA at Women on Writing (2010).
Twitter #scribechat transcript with Mary Kole at Scribd (01/2010).
Client Jamie Harrington and Jenny Martin's success stories from the DFW Writers Conference.
Please see the Movable Type Management website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 7/12/12.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 8/30/10.
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 and/or teen 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.