This week's Agent Spotlight features Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson Associates.
Status: Accepting submissions, actively building her client list.
About: “Judith is a literary assistant at Liza Dawson Associates, handling audio rights and digital publishing. She graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University with a B.A. in English and History on a full presidential scholarship. Prior to joining LDA, she interned at Random House, FinePrint Literary Management, Nancy Coffey Literary, and various other literary agencies.
“She is currently building her client list and looking for all types of fiction, particularly literary fiction, middle grade, young adult, urban fantasy, steampunk, paranormal romance and light science fiction.
“When she's not reading, Judith is either training for her next martial arts test or causing mischief with her Siberian Husky, Grendel.” (Link)
About the Agency:
"We are a full-service, highly selective literary agency based in New York City. Every day we draw on our expertise as former publishers to ensure that the material we submit stands out. We’re fascinated by how books and ideas spread, and so we’re deeply involved in all aspects of maximizing a book’s life in the marketplace – including the digital, film and licensing worlds.
“We’ve helped journalists and academics discover the nonfiction book they're truly excited to write – and that mainstream publishers are eager to acquire. We’ve re-built careers and we’ve launched first-time novelists. Many of our titles are award winners. We’ve had great success in the international market. Last year, three of our titles were on the New York Times bestseller list, for a total of seventy-two weeks. Our goal is to build long-lasting careers.” (Link)
Omnomnom Books (blog).
What She Is Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
From an Interview (05/2012):
“I'm looking for literary fiction, thrillers, urban fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, and the whole gamut of YA, from sci-fi to contemporary. I'm also interested in middle grades with heart and perhaps just a touch of magic, like WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead.” (Link)
“If I had a genie, I'd probably use up a wish to get a snappy, witty manuscript with a bullet-fast plot, something like Josh Bazell's BEAT THE REAPER. In literary fiction, the plot doesn't have to move at breakneck speeds, but there should definitely still be a plot and a fresh voice, like Cal from Jeffrey Eugenides' MIDDLESEX.
“I'd also love a middle grade that isn't afraid to delve into the issues of death, divorce, abandonment, sickness, or racism. I know that sounds awfully morbid, but there's a way to address these topics without being too depressing. I already mentioned WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, but other titles that tackle those issues poignantly are DEAR GEORGE CLOONEY, PLEASE MARRY MY MOM by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund, the classic WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech, and my childhood favorite MAMA LET'S DANCE by Patricia Hermes. They're humorous and have a whole lot of heart.” (Link)
From an Interview (04/2011):
“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.” (Link)
What She Isn’t Looking For:
“Right now, I'm not actively seeking nonfiction projects, though that could change...” (Link)
“As for what type of story I'm shying away from, I don't think purely fantasy or adventure middle grades are my cup of tea.” (Link)
“Yes, I'm an editorial agent. Everyone at LDA is, especially since Liza was executive editor at Putnam and William Morrow before she started the agency.” (Link)
There are lists of client titles on the website.
As of this posting, Ms. Engracia is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 4 audio rights deals in the last 12 months and 4 overall. No client deals so far.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (preferred).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query letter only, by e-mail or by snail-mail with SASE.
See the Liza Dawson Associates website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
“The query itself is a writing sample, so it should be tightly written. The manuscript could have a great plot, but if the query letter doesn't convince agents that it's well written, then it probably won't receive many requests.” (Link)
“The only pet peeve that comes to mind is when a query starts off with a question like, ‘Have you ever wondered what would happen if ___?’ The plot could be brilliant, but for some reason, phrasing it in a rhetorical question makes it sound oversimplified and silly.” (Link)
“We pass things to each other all the time here at LDA. I get emails from Hannah, Caitlin, Liza, and Anna all the time, and I pass queries to them, as well. We know each other's tastes, so if something isn't for us but might be better for another agent here, we'll forward the query. But if you'd like to query another agent here after someone else already passed, there's definitely no harm done!
“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.” (Link)
The agency’s stated response times are three weeks for queries and six weeks for requested material (Link).
Stats on the web show Ms. Engracia will often respond in this timeframe if interested. There are many cases of no response.
What's the Buzz?
Judith Enracia joined Liza Dawson Associates in 2010 and is now actively building her own client list. The agency is well respected and her clients seem happy to have partnered with her.
Worth Your Time:
Interview with an Agent: Judith Engracia at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (05/12).
Interview with Literary Agent Judith Engracia here at Lit Rambles (04/2011).
Judith Engracia Stops In For A Chat at Random Thoughts (03/2011).
Around the Web:
Check out the agency's FAQ page.
Liza Dawson Associates on P&E ($, AAR).
An Interview with client Erica M. Chapman (A QueryTracker Success Story) (07/12).
An Interview with client KT Hanna (A QueryTracker Success Story) (06/12).
An Interview with client Heather Rebel (A QueryTracker Success Story) (01/12).
Cient KT Hannah’s agent story on her blog (04/2011).
Please see the Liza Dawson Associates website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 8/9/12.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 8/9/12.
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.