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AGENT ALEX SLATER INTERVIEW AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Today I’m thrilled to have Alex Slater here. He’s been working in foreign rights at Trident Media Group and has been promoted to a literary agent. He’s building his children’s, middle grade, and young adult author list.

Hi Alex! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became an agent.

I attended the University of Connecticut and after graduating I landed an internship at a boutique literary agency in New York. I was there for 2 years before making it to Trident, where I started as a literary assistant, and then moved into the foreign rights department as an agent. I’ve been building my own list domestically since the summer of last year.

2. Sounds like you have built up great experience working in the literary agent field. Let’s start out by talking about foreign rights. What authors have you represented and what did your work entail? Is it any different than representing them with US publishers?

At Trident I had the privilege of representing some of the world’s biggest authors overseas. Helping to expand their business on an international scale was thrilling, and I did so by selling rights for both their backlist and frontlist titles. Some of those authors include Louis Sachar, L.J. Smith, and R.J. Palacio. I worked very closely with their agents to submit their properties, and then I would negotiate, close, and follow through on book deals. The agents nurture and grow the author’s work and business domestically, and as a sales agent, I would keep that influence growing into new territories.

3. That's so awesome that you got to work with these authors and it sounds like a great way to work with authors in general.  Not all authors are able to sell their books internationally. Are there certain genres that are easier to sell internationally? And do you have any advice to published authors regarding expanding into the foreign markets?

Indeed, some American genres are more quickly accepted overseas than others, but that also depends from country to country. Generally speaking, the erotica boom at home was also very popular in most countries abroad, however countries like France have had erotic literature in their canon for years, so publishers there were less anxious to follow suit. It’s hard to pinpoint why certain stories travel better than others, but my advice to published writers would be to recognize first the importance of growing your business internationally. It takes dedication and persistence sell translation rights, and neglecting them is an unfortunate misstep in your business.

4. I have a lot of followers who are self-published and/or published by smaller presses. Do you have any advice for them if they’re interested in trying to sell their books in other countries?

My biggest piece of advice would be to continue building your writing to a point where an agent would be attracted to participating in your business. If self-publishing is your only interest, it’s very difficult, and expensive, to have your work translated, have meta-data prepared, craft appropriate country-specific artwork, and release a work all on your own. Agencies like Trident have the connections and expertise to manage all that for writers, and self-publishing platforms overseas are still a very fluid and evolving part of the marketplace.

5. That's so interesting about self-publishing being in such a transition oversees. Sounds like an opportunity that self-published authors should try to explore through an agent. So you’re building your domestic list now. What are you looking for as an agent? Any genres you are looking for and/or prefer?

I am interested to continue working in the middle grade and young adult markets, as I was doing in the foreign arena. I’m looking for strong, voice-driven fiction, and stories that demand that I continue turning the pages. I tend to lean towards more dark, offbeat themes and characters, while also finding fresh air in contemporary coming of age stories. I’m fond of telling writers to send me “Coen Brothers-esque” fiction, as I feel their wide range of stories connect with bigger-than-life characters and dialogue. At the moment, I would love to see more historical magical realism and stories that involve Dead Poets Society type of worlds.

6. Are there any genres you don’t want to represent or don’t think you can sell right now?

I would not be the right agent to represent high fantasy or paranormal romance. Personally I think anything can sell if it connects with enough hearts, but obviously we’re seeing a downtrend in vampires and dystopias. Or at least, I like to tell myself we are.

7. I'm sad there isn't a market for more dystopias now because I still enjoy reading them. Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I’m interested in representing authors who have built a foundation of self-published work and who wish to continue to grow with new and unseen material. It will be difficult for authors to find an agent who wants to take out previously published work, unless it’s sold into very high quantities. I love small presses, and have clients who have published with them. If these authors want an agent I would recommend they highlight their past success if it’s relevant, and continue to build their appeal with readers, especially by publishing stories in journals.

8. So good to hear you're open to self-published and small press authors. Share a bit about what you’re looking for in your clients and whether you’re an editorial agent.

I am an editorial agent and as such I look for clients who are open-minded and willing to work as a team. I seek talented writers who respect my time and their time, and who understand this is a slow industry, and the best things are worth waiting for. I like communication lines to be clear and easy, and for either one of us to feel the safety and trust all successful relationships demand.

9. Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you? And what’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I like to get back to queries and solicited manuscripts in about 3-4 weeks, but sometimes that’s a lot easier said than done. In the queries, I dislike it if I am addressed as, “Ms. Slater,” simply because it shows immediately just how much research the author did on me. I also do not like queries that begin with background information about the writer. I want to know about the story from the first sentence, and if I’m hooked, then I’ll scroll down and read your bio. With fiction, story is always most important.

10. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

I see the role of agents growing more and more each year. Writers need the space, time, and independence to do what we all count on them to do: create. There would be no industry without those “luxuries” for our writers. Therefore, an experienced, trustworthy, and likeminded agent will continue to be a necessity to manage the creator’s career and to ensure that the art continues. To be a guide, editor, and pep talker. There will be more and more changes to come to publishing in the years ahead, and having an agent to steer you through the jungle will be essential.

11. That's great you see the agent role expanding in these changing times. Any other advice you’d like to share that we haven’t covered?

Just to write, every day.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Alex. You can find Alex at:


Alex generously offered a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through March 21st. I’ll announce the winner on March 23rd. If you're not interested in a critique, that's okay and just let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:

On Friday I'm participating in the Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great new releases for you and an Amazon gift card if you don't like my choices.

Next Monday, I'm interviewing debut author N.A. Traver and giving away DUPLICITY, her YA cyber thriller.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Stacey Lee and agent Kristin Nelson with  a query critique giveaway by Kristin Nelson and an ARC giveaway of UNDER A PAINTED SKY, Stacey's YA historical fiction novel.

Wednesday that week I have a giveaway of FLUNKED FAIRY TALE REFORM SCHOOL, a MG fantasy.

And the Monday after that I have an interview with debut author Erin Entrada Kelly and a giveaway of BLACKBIRD FLY, her multicultural contemporary MG  novel.

Hope to see you on Friday!

75 comments:

Weaver said...

Nice job. Querying can be such a nerve-wracking experience. At the same time, I can't imagine being an agent who's dealing with queries--and everything else they have to do--all the time.

Jessica Lawson said...

Thanks for an informative interview!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

This was a very informative and interesting interview! I'm going to add it to the resource links for my class on "Writing for the Children's Market." No need to enter me for the query critique.

Peaches D. Ledwidge said...

"I want to know about the story from the first sentence." Good to remind writers.

Patchi said...

Thanks for the great interview. Alex's insight into foreign markets is not something most agents cover in their interviews.

Kirsten Larson said...

What an interesting peek into the foreign rights market. Please enter me into the contest. Kirsten Larson

Karen Lange said...

Natalie, thanks for the intro to Alex. I appreciate the interview and his insight, particularly for those published by small presses. Much to think about!

I'll pass on the giveaway this time around. Have a good rest of the week!

Heather said...

Congrats to Alex on his promotion! And thanks to both him and you ladies for a wonderful interview. No need to enter me for the critique as I'm repped.

Heidi Schlottman said...

"Just to write, every day." A good reminder. Like most things in life, it's simple but not easy!

Angie Dickinson said...

Great advice on queries! I would love a critique.

Carol Riggs said...

I'm sad there isn't a market for dystopian fiction now too, because I have one that I've had to shelve. ;o) Great interview and advice here! I do already have an agent, so a critique would be more helpful to someone else; let them win one! What a great opportunity. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I enjoyed Alex's advice on queries. At this point, I don't have anything ready for a critique, so I'll pass on the opportunity. I liked his advice on the role of agents . . . basically to give authors space, time, and independence to create. I will certainly keep him in mind for the future.

Jenni said...

I really enjoyed hearing about the international rights and a bit more about how they work. Thanks for such an informative interview, Alex and Natalie!
I'll also pass on the critique, since I'm not ready to query right now.

Kim Van Sickler said...

It is interesting to watch what catches on internationally. I especially like it when foreign books catch on in the US. Those Stieg Larsson books started quite a Scandinavian detective trend!

Taylor said...

Great advice about international sales and self-publishing! I would like to be entered for the critique contest, and I also shared this on Twitter!

Michael Di Gesu said...

OMG, Natalie,

Alex was the agent who oversaw my round table event at the SCBWI conference in NYC last month! Such a nice surprise to see his face. He was great and very interesting to talk to....

Hey, Alex! Working on those suggestions you made.... Thanks for all the information....

Ophelia L. said...

I would love to enter the critique interview! This was an interesting and informative interview; it's great to read interviews with agents. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's nice to hear he wants to work with self-published and small press authors who have established themselves.

Arlee Bird said...

Thanks for the peak behind the curtain. It's always good to get this kind of insider information on things that we as writers sometimes don't consider. I especially like the teamwork concept between agent and writer. I hear of the stories of writers who get agents and then nothing happens after that. The fault can be on one side just as much as the other. Communication and cooperation are important in any venture.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Love all the info and advice. Researching the agent you're querying is crucial!

dolorah said...

Mr Slater offers good advice about the query. A well rounded career.

I'm already a follower :)

Greg Pattridge said...

Very interesting journey, Alex. Glad you have found what you love to do. Thanks for your insights.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great advice - to write every day! I agree 100% :)

Beverley Baird said...

Great advice, especially about querying. Very interesting interview indeed.

Janelle Leonard said...

Thanks for sharing...now back to my querying, a little wiser :)

Michael G-G said...

He sounds like a very thoughtful, level-headed person. I am ready to query, so please enter me in the drawing.

Krysten Lindsay Hager said...

Wonderful advice! Enjoyed this interview :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting info. I gain so much insight from reading posts like these. Thank you for featuring this agent.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Loved the advice, its so important to research the agent one is querying. Please enter me into the query critique contest.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Alex! Good to see you here. Coen Brothers-esque fiction? I like your tastes.

Margay Leah Justice said...

I love interviews with agents - always so informative!

Marilyn said...

I enjoyed this interview. I thought the information about translation was particularly interesting since I'd never thought about having to acquire "craft appropriate, country specific" artwork.

Rosi said...

Terrific interview. There is a lot for writers to mine in this post. Querying is so hard. Thanks for this.

Niki Schoenfeldt said...

Please enter me. I will tweet & facebook it. Thanks!

Danielle H. said...

I liked hearing about an agent's side of the business. Thanks for the interview and chance for a critique! I will post on Twitter.

Shelly Steig said...

Alex, thanks for doing the interview. You obviously have the chops to make a great agent! And it was interesting to see another side of agenting. I'd love to take part in the crit contest. I'll also tweet. Thanks again Alex and Literary Rambles for the opportunity.

nwestbooks said...

Very informative interview. Thank you, Alex. Coen Brothers-esq fiction? Absolutely! I would love to read (and write) that!

Unknown said...

As someone going through the process of trying to write a query now, I'd love to win this contest! info@jamieayres.com . . . thanks& great interview :-)

Cynthia said...

Thanks for sharing the interview. It's nice to know which agents represent PBs, MGs, and YAs.

Gwen Gardner said...

Great insights into the current publishing climate. Everything said makes sense to me. Thanks Alex and Natalie!

Unknown said...

Nice interview! Alex sounds like a great guy with a wonderful passion for his work. I'd love a query critique!

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks for the interesting interview!

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks for the interesting interview!

Dionna said...

Thanks, Natalie & Casey, for another great interview!

Dionna said...

Thanks, Natalie & Casey, for another great interview!

Carissa said...

Thanks, as always for these amazing interviews! I'd love to be entered in the query critique giveaway!

A.C. Thomas said...

Thank you for this informative interview! I want to be entered into the query critique giveaway. I tweeted the link out to my followers as well. My email address is acthomaswrites at gmail dot com.

Shutta said...

Natalie--Sharing, but you don't need to put me down for a query critique. Hugs! Shutta

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks for the great interview. I learned a lot.

Ryan Hipp said...

Nice job - in many ways, a proper query is equally as important as your submission, because it shows you understand the ins-and-outs. I always love reading query advice, (more than writing advice). Thanks for the post.

Penanggalen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.P. Bowers said...

I haven't researched foreign markets so this was very informative. Thanks! And put me down for the query crit, I need it! sara (dot) bowers (at) cox (dot) net

Unknown said...

Awesome agent interview!

Unknown said...

This is Kelsey over at kelseykelseykelsey on Facebook :-)

Kathy H-C said...

Thanks for the helpful information. I appreciate that Alex recognizes the importance of trust and communication in the author-agent relationship. Those traits can go a long way toward heading off any potential problems.

Kathy H-C said...

My email is michianawriterscenter@gmail.com

Penanggalen said...

Wow, it's hard to post to this site. It won't work in Google Chrome, and doesn't seem to recognize my profile. But anyhow, this was a useful interview, and I appreciate the time everyone took to make it happen. My e-mail is: ClementJ "at" tncc "dot" edu.

Unknown said...

I've been a follower for years and would love to be entered for the critique! Thanks! I'll tweet about it too...

Unknown said...

Great article. Thanks for the insight!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the insightful comments. I'd love to receive the query critique.

Cipher said...

Great Interview, as always! Thanks for all the work you do!

Virginia Rinkel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Virginia Rinkel said...

My e-mail didn't go through on the first comment, so I'll try again.
vrinkel@yahoo.com

Unknown said...

thanks for the valuable info. literary rambles is my "go-to" site for researching agents!

Nancy Bachana said...

I just received a form rejection from Mr. Slater last week on my YA novel, so I would especially love to have the critique giveaway! Saw him speak on an agents' panel recently and he was impressive. A lot of heart toward the books he admires.

Unknown said...

I keep hearing terrific things about Mr. Slater, so it's wonderful to see him profiled here. Thanks very much and I'd love to throw my hat into the query-contest ring.

whispering words said...

A great interview - very insightful :)

Stephanie said...

I really appreciated the opinions of Mr. Slater and his thoughts on both traditional and self-published authors. And thank you for the opportunity to win a critique review.
smantello1(at)yahoo(dot)com, just in case it's not in my profile

Suzi Guina said...

I like how he phrased the agent role: " To be a guide, editor, and pep talker." Yes, please!
I'd love to be entered in the query critique. bonecabela(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thanks for another great interview!

Keely said...

Thanks for sharing--it's always great to find out about new agents and their MSWL!

Becca said...

I love hearing about new agents, especially those interested in great middle grade. I'd love a chance to get a query critique. rbirkin1@msn.com

Becca said...

I love hearing about new agents, especially those interested in great middle grade. I'd love a chance to get a query critique. rbirkin1@msn.com

Becca said...

I love hearing about new agents, especially those interested in great middle grade. I'd love a chance to get a query critique. rbirkin1@msn.com

Pizzos3.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mewla said...

Excellent advice! Thank you for a great interview, Alex and Natalie. Alex - big Cohen Brother AND cat fan here. Please enter me into the query critique contest. jwky96744@gmail.com. Thank you!