Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Kelly Dyksterhouse Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/12/2022
  • Savannah Brooks Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/19/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH ELANA ROTH PARKER AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Elana Roth Parker here. Elana is a literary agent at Red Tree Literary.

Update on 5/21/2020: As of 6/2016, Elana Roth Parker has closed Red Tree Literary. She is now an agent at Laura Dail Literary. See Laura Dail Literary's website for information on her submission guidelines and how to query her.

Hi­ Elana! Thanks so much for joining us.

Status: Open to submissions.

About Elana:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

Thanks for having me! I became an agent after first being an editor at a children’s book packager for 5 years. I was working on a lot on developing proposals for new book series and looking for writers for those projects, and in doing so, started to be in touch with lots of literary agents. The work sounded really interesting, so I took the leap. I’ve been an agent now for 8 years—the first 4 working at Johnson Lit Agency, and the last 4 for myself. As an agent, I’ve been doing all the usual agenty things: reading a lot, signing clients, selling books, negotiating contracts, etc. 

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

Red Tree Literary a small, specialized agency focusing entirely on children’s and young adult books. It’s so small, it’s just me! And I’m incredibly selective in my client list. I’m a quality-over-quantity person, and never want a list so large that I can’t spend a lot of time on each author. I’m very editorial and developmental, always wanting to make sure we send things out to editors in their best possible shape. So my clients get all the benefits of a very curated list—lots of personal attention, lots of guidance, and lots of careful strategizing.

What She’s Looking For:

2. 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 rep picture books, middle-grade, and young adult. For picture books, I really prefer author/illustrators, because I love working on the entire book—but I do make exceptions for exceptional manuscripts. As for the novels, I’m not picky on genre and will generally look at everything from contemporary to sci-fi. I will say that I’m not your best bet for horror or anything too bloody or creepy (I have nightmares really easily!).
I’m also looking for more non-fiction for kids. For picture book and middle-grade, more “interesting topic” non-fiction; for YA, I’d love some narrative non-fiction as well.

3.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

I mostly want more breadth of experience and point-of-view. We see a lot of the same thing (i.e. type of character) over and over again, and I am really interested in getting rich backgrounds from characters that aren’t so prevalent. Voice is really the best vehicle to do that, so whatever a wonderful voice can lend to a genre to freshen it up would be amazing.
Also, I really read to escape, and not to get punched in the face. So transporting work, either to a faraway place or just listening to a really inviting character, is what I really want to see.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

4. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

Overtly educational or message-y books; saccharine-sweet picture books; Christmas books; depressing problem novels; horror/thriller.

Agent Philosophy:

5. 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?

My philosophy is based on the idea that my clients should be picking me as much as I’m picking them. It’s a close, collaborative relationship, so the best ones are where we enjoy and respect each other as human beings and have constructive conversation about putting out the best work possible. I’m here to help as much as possible, and I’m not the boss—we should be working together.
As for the books…well, I think I covered a lot of that already. But basically, I want authors who write books with legs, who understand the timelessness of children’s books, and want to grow over the course of their careers.

Editorial Agent:

6. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

I’m very editorial. I almost always do at least 2 revisions before submitting to editors. The first round is bigger picture edits—plot, pacing, etc. Then we usually do a clean-up round so it reads nicely. Sometimes a book needs more, sometimes less. I just like to make sure nothing is really bugging me before submitting (if something bugs me and I don’t fix it, it always ends up biting me in the rear end when editors start responding). I always give my authors as much creative leeway as they need. I make suggestions, but nothing is a mandate, as long as the solution they come up with solves the problem.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

7. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

Email email email! I have all the details up on my website: www.redtreeliterary.com/submissions

8.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

Queries should be as short as possible and as clear as possible. I don’t need a dissertation about why you wanted to be a writer, but I do need entry-level access to your world. (Have someone who knows nothing about your work read the query before you send it!)
First pages have a tougher job of giving me sense of voice and quick entry into the story—at least so I can see if the prose matches up to the pitch. There are a million and a half things people overdo in the first few pages, so I can’t get into all of them now, but generally I’d avoid the cliché “My stomach dropped”/ “My heart fell” / “I gasped” first lines. There’s zero context for the reader. Let’s get to know your character a little first. Let me see a little bit of their world as you get the story started.

Response Time:

9. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I’m in the 2-4 week range on query responses (usually closer to 2 weeks), and about 8-10 weeks on manuscript requests. I only request full manuscripts, also. I found that the added “partial manuscript” stage just drags things out. If I want to keep reading, I can. If I want to stop, I’ll stop.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

10.  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?

Totally open to those authors. Kiera Cass self-published her first novel! But I can’t take something you already self-published and get it traditionally published. So if you’ve had work published that way or through a small press, that’s fine, but better to be querying me (or any other agent) with a fresh novel and let go of the old one. If things go swimmingly well for you, we may be able to approach that older work some day in the future. But no promises. Every step you take in publishing is an opportunity to learn. But you always want to be taking steps forward.

11. 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 agents need to be more open-minded to creative opportunities and new methods of reaching audiences, but I don’t think the role of agent is inherently changing. We’re still here to make sure authors get the best deals possible and be an advocate and a guide for the business end of the publishing process. I’m all for exploring new options and non-traditional paths if it means connecting an author with readers. And as new methods come up, it’s all the more reason to have someone with specialized knowledge to consult and review with.

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Kiera Cass
Andy Marino
Vern Kousky
Matt Blackstone

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers 

This is actually the freshest interview I’ve done in several years, so I hesitate in pointing you to the old ones, which might be pretty stale. The best way to get to know me is to follow me on Twitter.

Elana Roth Parker and Alexa Donne Guest Post at Literary Rambles (04/2018)

Links and Contact Info:

14. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

Everything you need to know is here:

www.redtreeliterary.com/submissions

Additional Advice:

15. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

Read, read, read. And don’t just read—devour. The biggest mistake I see in queries is when writers are obviously not in tune with the market. The more you read, the better you will see what works and doesn’t work.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Elana.

­Elana 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 April 23rd.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know 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. This is an international giveaway.

Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/21/2020
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes
Reviewed By Agent?  N/A


Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

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.




91 comments:

Lee Kelsall said...

Great interview Natalie, thanks! Nice to read something on an agent definitely worth adding to the spreadsheet. leehotline@hotmail.com

Kristin Lenz said...

Nice to see the return of agent interviews, Natalie. Congrats to Elana on building your own agency!

Faith E. Hough said...

Glad to see another agent profile up, and I like the interview format. I rely so heavily on this blog for beginning agent research!

Angie Dickinson said...

Very interesting interview, thanks for sharing!
Angiedickinson06@gmail.com

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome to meet Elana. She sounds awesome although I might be one of the authors who left her trembling beneath her blanket at night. *shrugs* And HI NATALIE!! I miss my wonderful blogging friends while on break.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's interesting that she wants authors who are illustrators. Usually publishers want to do their own illustrations.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this - great interview. Hats off to Elena for starting up her own agency! Wow!
lisacharlebois1@gmail.com

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interview. As a mom, I'd like to see more voices that aren't prevalent in books too. Nice to meet Elana. :)

Bish Denham said...

Elena, you sound enthusiastic and determined to do the best for your authors. I hear you about wanting to read stories with unusual characters who have fresh voices.

Triona Murphy said...

I'm so happy to see Lit Rambles interviews again! Elana sounds like a great agent—she was already on my query list, but I just bumped her up. :-)

Elanor Lawrence said...

I didn't realize Kiera Cass had self-published before The Selection! It's nice to know that a novel that's not strictly a debut can go over so well!
elanor_gamgee@yahoo.ca

Nancy Kelly Allen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy Kelly Allen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda said...

Very interesting interview, happy to see these coming back. No need to enter me Natalie.

Gwen Gardner said...

Thanks for the great interview, Elana and Natalie. As a self publisher who's thinking of going hybrid, I'm not quite ready with the query letter yet, but loved all the info here.

darlene said...

Really enjoyed this upbeat interview! Happy to learn of your blog. Just followed you on bloglovin - and did a tweet too - https://twitter.com/koppelstudio/status/717736330118242304

Roxanne Lambie said...

LOVED this interview. Thanks so much.
Rmlambie@hotmail.com

cleemckenzie said...

It was lovely meeting Elana. I like small agencies that focus on specific genres. I think they serve their clients so well.

Unknown said...

Great to learn about boutique agent/agencies! I tweeted the interview. Thanks!

Natalie Rompella said...

Love that you rep nonfiction! Thanks for sharing.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks, Natalie, for resuming the agent interviews. Thanks, Elena, for telling us about your agency.

Mandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mandy said...

I loved this interview since I'm querying now, and especially that you represent those who self-published or regionally published, since that's what I did with my first book. Would love a critique!

DSpiegel said...

Thank you for a great interview and insight into the many avenues for publishing.

I'll be sure to retweet this!

Debraspiegelauthor@gmail.com

ikmar said...

'I don’t need a dissertation about why you wanted to be a writer'

So not twenty pages? :D

Great interview.

Ambiguous_A said...

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! And I tweeted about the contest :) https://twitter.com/Ambiguous_A08/status/717787555769352192

abnormalalien said...

Ha, I also loved the line on not wanting a dissertation. Hmm, I can't imagine the guts it would take to head off on your own. Like owning your own business sounds hard enough but then throw that in the publishing world and I'd be shaking in my skate shoes.

M Pax said...

How fun to be your own agency, and reading is great advice. :)

Hello to Natalie.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was a great interview, Natalie. I really enjoyed Elana's views and have bookmarked her link for the future, as down the road I'd like to query her on a book I haven't yet finished. I love her attitude and the range of things she likes to handle.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Keep the query short. I guess that's one thing I did right in the beginning.

Kenda Turner said...

Great interview--nice to be introduced to Elana :-) Thanks!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Love your advice on reading and query length! I write mainly fiction, but I've thought about writing some non-fiction . . . using some research I've used for one of the current WIPs. Hmm. I keep getting closer to the query stage, but I'm not quite there yet.
Thanks for this wonderful interview!

Stephen Tremp said...

I'll have to check in this fall as I put together my December guest blogs, all children's authors. Just in time for the holidays.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Natalie,

Thanks for featuring Elana... How interesting to run your own agency...

I may be dabbling in picture books soon. And I illustrate as well. So I just may drop you a query, Elana... Thanks for informing us of what you are looking to represent, and for the query critique!

Judy Palermo said...

Love the return of the interview! Such a great resource!

Judy Palermo said...

Love the return of the interview! Such a great resource!

whispering words said...

Great interview - and a great giveaway :) Count me in. dancing_dragon747(at)hotmail.com

Rachna Chhabria said...

I love these Agent interviews. And I had queried Elana for a manuscript sometime back. And she had responded very fast. Count me in the query critique giveaway.

Jenni said...

Great interview! I enjoyed hearing about Elana's small agency and what she's looking for.

Sharon Giltrow said...

Great interview. I am so glad I found your website. I would love to enter the competition.

Unknown said...

Great interview. Questions are to the point. I'm so glad that agent interviews are back. They are much needed.

Unknown said...

Great interview! I very much enjoyed learning about Elana's agency.

Kirsti Call said...

Thanks for a great interview!

Niki Moss said...

I'm ramping up to the query phase again, and LR always brings exciting new submission opportunities straight to my in-box! How was Ms. Parker not already on my radar? She's definitely there now!

Unknown said...

Thanks for offering the query critique, and thank you for this interview!

Greg Pattridge said...

I like her emphasis on the importance of voice. The surest way to hook a reader. Thanks for the great interview and critique opportunity.

Tom Rains said...

It's so nice hearing an agent's point of view. Thank you!(tomrainswrites(at)gmail.com)

Marilyn said...

Thanks for the interview! I always learn something new.

Angie Quantrell said...

I love being introduced to new agents and hearing their viewpoints and how they work. Thank you! Have a wonderful day! (Angelecolline@gmail.com)

Mary Warth said...

Thanks for the great interview. This blog is such a great resource for researching agents and agencies.
Marywarth(at)hotmail(dot)com

tara1204 said...

Great interview!

Amy Houts said...

Thanks for the interview and chance for a critique. I appreciate the information and service you provide to writers. amysase@gmail.com.

Patchi said...

I love the interview format, more personal and still full of information. And the query critiques are a great addition!

Rebecca E. Bailey said...

It's awesome to see an agent strike out on her own; authors will know her ideas aren't those of her bosses. Thanks for entering me in a query critique giveaway. By the way, I also mentioned this on Facebook. My email address is profrbailey@aol.com. Have a wonderful day!

s said...

It was a lovely post to read! xx

s said...

spontaneouslyxs@gmail.com is mine!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for the great info! I shared a link to this post on my Facebook page (via your Facebook post, Natalie).
carmela (at) carmelamartino (dot) com

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Great information here. Nice to meet Elana. I've shared this post and offer on facebook, also. My e-mail is vmlwriter@comcast.net. Thanks for the opportunity.

Unknown said...

Always love agent interviews! Thanks for this one! info@jamieayres.com

Valerie Bodden said...

Thanks for a great interview and the giveaway! valbodden(at)gmail(dot)com

Melissa said...

Great informative interview, love finding current info! And the giveaway is an added bonus, which I tweeted about. Thanks!

Empty Nest Insider said...

It makes it a lot easier for writers to know what you're not interested in, so I appreciate your honesty. You always come up with the best questions, Natalie! I really enjoyed this interview!

Julie

Tina Cho said...

Great interview and concise as to what she's looking for. Thanks!

Alison K Hertz said...

Great interview. If love a query critique.

Amy Houts said...

I tweeted, too (@amyhouts). I had already commented. Thanks for the extra chance for a critique. amysase@gmail.com.

Karen K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen K. said...

Great interview. I'm currently revising my query and appreciate the opportunity for a critique. Karen Kobylarz: kkobylar@att.net

Stina said...

Great interview. I had no idea that Kiera Cass had self pubbed her first novel.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Elana is someone on my radar. I'd love to be included in the giveaway.

K. said...

Very informative interview! And thanks so much for the opportunity to win a query critique! :)

Snuffalupagus said...

Great article!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for doing all these profiles!

Unknown said...

Exactly the info I was looking for today. Thanks for posting and for query critique opportunity! Shared on twitter:
https://twitter.com/MadelineRue/status/719316174266195968

DMS said...

What an interesting interview. It was great to learn more about Elana and what she is looking for in a manuscript. I am not entering the query critique at this time- but I think it is an awesome opportunity! :)
~Jess

Bill Radford said...

I would also love to see more new voices out there. And please enter me for the query critique! Great opportunity. :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Another great spotlight/interview. These are all so helpful.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for doing these spotlights!
--Erica
klarreic@gmail.com

c. sciriha said...

Elana sounds like the kind of agent any writer would be proud and lucky to have. Aiming for a collaborative approach to polish the final product shows this is an agent that cares. I'd love to win but if I don't I'll be sending a query.

Lotus Ivak said...

This was a great interview! Thank you so much Natalie and Elana!

Julie Walters said...

Great interview!! I love learning about what agents are seeking and an author they work with.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the informative interview. Elena sounds like the type of agent I'd dream of working with.

Jill said...

This was a helpful interview, and I'm excited about the contest. I tweeted: @grammarbetty/molloymatkins at gmail.com

Jennifer Brown said...

This was such a helpful interview! Count me in!

Joanell said...

I love that she is heavily editorial. I really want that in an agent! Thanks for the interview. Enjoyed reading it.

Kellie Byrnes said...

Great article, and helpful advice from Elana. I'd love to win a query critique! Email kelliejbis[at]gmail.com

Suzi Guina said...

Thanks for the interview! Elana sounds great. bonecabela(@)yahoo(.)com

Suzi Guina said...

Thanks for the interview! Elana sounds great. bonecabela(@)yahoo(.)com

Jeffrey Seth said...

Love the interview and would love to have my query critiqued. Thanks.

Unknown said...

I use your blog all the time as I'm researching agents. Thanks so much for all your work and organizing so many giveaways! :)

Ben Oliveira said...

Lovely interview.
It's always nice to learn more about the world of literary agents.
Thank you ♥