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INTERVIEW WITH LITERARY AGENT JUDITH ENGRACIA
First I’m going to announce the winner of CLARITY by Kim Harrington. The winner is:
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can mail you your book.
Today I’m so excited to interview Judith Engracia, a literary assistant at Liza Dawson Associates. She handles their audio rights and digital publishing and is building up her own client list.
Welcome Judith. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a literary assistant.
When I was still undecided in college, the advice I kept hearing was “do what you love.” Since books have always been my passion, I decided to try an internship with a literary agency and, sure enough, I’ve been in love with this job ever since.
2. That’s so cool you’re following a career that you love. I read in your bio that you interned at Random House, FinePrint Literary and Nancy Coffey Literary Management. How will these experiences help you as an agent?
Well my three internships with literary agencies were reading and writing-intensive, and everything I did as an intern (slush, requested manuscripts, client manuscripts, and editorial letters) are all part of a normal day for an assistant and agent. Meanwhile, my internship at Random House with the Special Sales department really showed me the business side of publishing. The special sales team had to be creative in thinking of new possible markets for their upcoming titles, which is also the mindset agents need to have. An agent’s job isn’t over after he or she pitches a book to an editor—we continue to think of other ways to sell our client’s work, whether it’s through merchandising or uploading a client’s backlist as e-books, if we control the rights.
3. What types of manuscripts are you interested in receiving? Are they any different in middle grade vs. YA?
I’d love to work with more urban fantasies and paranormal romances, as well as YA’s and middle grades with a spunky, sassy protagonist. And yes, the main difference I’ve noticed between a middle grade novel and a YA is that the themes in a middle grade tend to explore family and friendship issues with a crush somewhere in the periphery, whereas romance is often more prominent in a YA.
4. Are there any genres or story lines that you aren’t interested in representing?
I enjoy pretty much all types of fiction—YA, middle grade, urban fantasy, paranormals, thrillers, romance, and literary—which is more than enough to keep me busy right now. So I think I’ll most likely shy away from nonfiction projects at the moment.
5. What books are you really excited about now that you wished you represented?
Oh, I’m sure I’m not the only agent who wouldn’t mind representing any of the books on this week’s New York Times bestseller list!
6. Ha! And we’d all have loved to have written those books. I know some agents say that the market is saturated with books about vampires and werewolves. Are there any types of books that are harder to sell right now?
The market is pretty crowded with vampires and werewolves right now, and it looks like fairies, angels, and demons are becoming harder to sell, as well. But of course, if the manuscript is stellar, people will pay attention.
7. What do you want to see in a query letter? Do you have any pet peeves?
I think agents all basically look for the same format: a short pitch or hook, a one-paragraph summary, and a brief bio listing any awards or writing experience. And above all, we’re looking for tight writing in the query. Unnecessary words and wandering sentences are flags that the manuscript is probably written in the same manner, which means more rounds of revision and more work for the agent. As for pet peeves, mine would have to be nasty replies from authors after I (politely) passed on seeing their manuscript. Rude replies don’t happen often, but when they do, it can be quite jarring.
8. Yes, rudeness is so unprofessional. Do you have any other advice that we haven’t discussed?
My advice would be to keep in mind that this is an extremely subjective business so it’s important to never give up! A pass isn’t necessarily a judgment on your writing—we might recognize that the writing is solid, but the project just really isn’t for us. So don’t be discouraged. Keep querying, and above all, keep writing!
That’s such an important piece of advice and one we aspiring authors sometimes forget. Judith will stop by and may answer some of your questions in the comments so be sure to check back.
Thanks so much Judith for letting me interview you. Good luck! You can check the Liza Dawson Associates website in the next few weeks for Judith’s bio and her e-mail to send her your queries. You can also check out her blog here.
This week and next I’ll be blogging on Wednesdays as well as Mondays so I can spotlight two middle grade authors. On Wednesday I’ll be interviewing Hillary Homzie abut her new book THE HOT LIST and giving away a copy of it. Hope you'll join us.
I want to remind you of The Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays started by Shannon Whitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check it out here.
And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:
I follow them every week because I love finding out about middle grade books and it’s important that we all help promote middle grade authors.
Next Monday I’ll be sharing a really helpful resource to help you with your query letters that’s FREE and something else that is totally awesome. Hint. Hint. It involves Elana Johnson’s new book POSSESSION. I’ll be giving away a copy of her ARC! Trust me, you want to read it as soon as possible so be sure to enter.
Posted by Natalie Aguirre on Monday, April 11, 2011