FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey at least temporarily. I will be providing all the same information we’ve shared in the past in an interview format. In addition, one lucky commenter will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.
Status: Open to submissions.
Hi Beth! Thanks so much for joining us.
My path to becoming an agent was really rather straightforward—though not without a dash of good timing. When I was in college I knew I wanted to work in publishing but I didn’t know what branch I was most interested in. When I started looking at internships, I applied around the board, and BookEnds was the first company to call back and offer me a position. I interned there for a summer and loved it—it was my favorite publishing internship of several more to come. Fast-forward a couple of years (less than two months after my graduation!), and I got an email from Jessica Faust asking if I wanted to interview for an assistant opening with the company. An interview and editorial test later, and I had the job.
That was over three years ago. I only became “Assistant Literary Agent” instead of “Literary Assistant” a little over six months ago, but I’ve been agenting my own projects for over two years. As for what I do: going to conferences, judging contests, and reading reading reading. My colleague Moe Ferrara and I are most noticeably working to grow BookEnds’ showing in Sci-fi, Fantasy, and YA genres.
About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.
BookEnds was founded by Jessica Faust in 1999, and our agents have over 50 years of publishing experience combined. As sentimental as it may sound, we’re all about helping our authors achieve their publishing dreams while working on projects we love. We manage our author’s careers and pride ourselves on our hands-on editing and hybrid career development for our clients.
What She’s Looking For:
3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?
I represent YA and adult—readers, if you want your MG at BookEnds, contact Moe Ferrara. She’s hungry for MG. Within those age groups, I’m interested in sci-fi, fantasy, suspense/thrillers, and romantic suspense.
4. Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
I am a big proponent of diversity and representation in books, so I am always excited to see a strong ensemble of diverse characters. I’m also a sucker for found families. In sci-fi, I’m really hankering for an adventure set in space, and in fantasy I’m looking for contemporary stories.
What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?
In fantasy I’m not currently interested in submissions that include vampires, werewolves, or angels/demons. Angels and demons are a hard sell for me personally, and it’s still difficult to sell vampires and werewolves to publishers. I am also not interested in historical or epic fantasy. For sci-fi: ark ships are a little overdone in my inbox so while I consider them, I am less likely to request any further materials based on a query. No post-apocalyptic stories in any genres.
6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?
At BookEnds we sign authors to build their careers, not to publish the single novel they submitted to us. So when I call an author up to offer representation, I want to hear about their goals and what they’re working on next. I want to see if our visions are compatible when it comes to their book and career. If they want to write multiple genres, do I represent all of them or am I willing to branch out? Stuff like that.
Beyond the purely professional concerns, I want a personality that works with mine and someone who is willing to adapt. As an agent, I don’t only represent my authors to publishers. I also advise them in their career development and decision-making. If a potential author seems unwilling to take my advice from the get-go, then we won’t be a good fit in the long run.
As far as the books I like to sign—I obviously want to sign books that really just get me. They grab me, and I feel it in my gut. Ideally you get that book and it’s perfect for the market and an easy sell. Of course, that’s often not the case. So my philosophy is to find the balance between signing books that I love and signing books that will sell. Agenting is a business, after all, and the reality of the industry will not always match my personal tastes.
7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?
I absolutely am! I will always give projects the revisions I feel they need before submitting, but I am also more than happy to provide a second set of eyes to my clients before they turn in their contracted work, or while they’re brainstorming their next idea. When getting a project ready for submission, I read through the manuscript, leave comments in the margins, and write up a revision letter for the author. This generally covers the broad strokes of what needs to be revised. I’ll of course correct any typos or grammatical/syntactical errors I see, but that’s not something I obsess about—that’s what copyeditors are for. The author and I will go back and forth as many times as we feel we need (speaking every step of the way) before the project is up to shape. Sometimes it takes one letter, sometimes it takes a few more.
Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)
8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?
ANSWER: Our submission guideline are on our website. We only accept one-page queries in the body of the email for the querying process. No attachments, no synopsis or sample pages. In a query, all I absolutely need to know is the hook, premise, and brief summary of your book. A little chit-chat is fine—mentioning how you found out about me, for example. What I particularly love to see, though it is hard to pin down for many, is an exhibition of the author’s voice in their query. It’s hard to display your voice in such a small snapshot of your book, but I always think it’s impressive when an author pulls it off. Plus, if I get a sense of your voice, I get a better sense of whether I’ll be a good fit for the project.
9. Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?
I really dislike it when authors include a long preamble in their queries. Queries are only supposed to be one page, so when you spend a full paragraph saying that you worked very hard to make your query unique and describing your philosophy of writing, you’re wasting space that should be used to describe your book. I’m also not a fan of queries that are written in the POV of the main character.
10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?
I respond to queries between four and six weeks. For requested materials, I tend to hover between three and four months from receipt. I do sometimes fall behind because of vacations or holidays, but I tweet updates regularly so authors can see where I am in the submissions pile.
Self-Published and Small Press Authors:
11. 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 absolutely am! However, they almost always have to have a new project to pitch. I am not largely interested in self-published or otherwise previously-published titles. Most agents aren’t unless your numbers are really astronomical. So to authors wanting to make the switch, I say: make sure you have a new, finished, unpublished project to query. At BookEnds many of us have signed self-pubbed authors based on their new projects and have then gone on to work with their self-published works (either representing it for translation in other countries, getting audiobook deals, or sometimes getting the self-pubbed titles traditionally published), but there’s no guarantee of that. You have to look forward when querying.
12. 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 think it depends on the agent and agency. Certainly the main goal of agenting has remained the same amongst all the changes: to publish books traditionally. Some agents stick to that and don’t do hybrid work while others, like the agents at BookEnds, have expanded their role to better encompass hybrid authors’ careers. Moving forward, I’m sure that will continue to be the case. Agencies and agents may choose to evolve, but agenting as a whole may not.
13. Who are some of the authors you represent?
To name a couple:
Cheryl Hollon, author of the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries
Theo Nicole Lorenz, author and illustrator of an array of humorous coloring books including UNICORNS ARE JERKS
Olivia Dade, who is writing her Lovestruck Librarian Series
Interviews and Guest Posts:
14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.
My first blog post on the BookEnds website (complete with the same photo I used for this interview—whoops): http://bookendsliterary.com/index.php/2015/09/10/get-to-know-beth-campbell/
Some more in-depth MSWL (for me and the other agents at BookEnds): http://bookendsliterary.com/index.php/2016/01/06/more-mswl-from-bookends-literary-agents/
My general opinions and advice on queries over on Michelle4Laughs: http://www.michelle4laughs.com/2015/10/query-questions-with-beth-campbell.html
Links and Contact Info:
15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.
Always check out our submission guidelines before submitting! They change every so often, so you should be sure you’re up to date. http://bookendsliterary.com/index.php/submissions/
With that done, you can email me at email@example.com with the word “query” in the subject line.
And you can always check up on my submissions statuses by following me on twitter @Campbele_E
15. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?
I would always encourage aspiring authors to write what you love. When you’re submitting to agents and editors and getting rejections and revision letters, you’ll have to have a lot of love for your writing to persevere. You can’t write just to get published. When a year passes without that contract, people who are just writing to publish often stop writing. You have to write because you love writing—that’s what keeps you going.
I would also say to never get stuck on one project. Sometimes authors will tell me that they’ve been shopping and submitting the same project for 10 years, and that’s almost always a sad thing to hear. You can’t grip onto one project forever. You have to always be writing something new, not holding onto what-ifs. You don’t grow if you don’t let go every once in a while.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Beth.
Beth is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through February 20th. If you do not want to be included in the query critique giveaway, that's okay, but please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, let me know this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.
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Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways
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