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Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH TRACY MARCHINI and QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Tracy Marchini here. She is a literary agent at Bookends Literary Agency.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey. 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¬ Tracy! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Tracy:

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


I started as a Literary Agents Assistant at Curtis Brown in 2006, and was there for four years. I left to start freelance editing and prepared to go to grad school, where I earned my MFA in Writing for Children. After earning my masters, I worked in marketing and continued to edit until I joined BookEnds Literary in June of 2016. So, I’ve been ‘around’ for over a decade, but in various capacities. (Through this time, I also did some work as a newspaper correspondent, children’s book reviewer, children’s copywriter and book proposal writer.)

I’m thrilled to be back in publishing as an agent, where I represent fiction, non-fiction and illustration for children and teens.

About the Agency:

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

Jessica Faust founded BookEnds Literary after working for years at an acquiring editor. BookEnds specializes in representing fiction and nonfiction for adults, young adults and children and can proudly call a number of award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors clients.

What I personally love about BookEnds is how collaborative it is. As agents, we agonize over our submission letters just like an author might agonize over the query. At BookEnds, we’re constantly helping each other refine our pitches, sharing information about editor and publisher needs, and giving each other advice when asked. So while someone might sign with me, they also have the benefit of my colleagues’ expertise.

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 picture book, middle grade and young adult.

In picture book fiction, I love things that are deliciously dark, or have a great sense of humor. In picture book non-fiction, I love stories of unsung heroes and heroines. (For non-fiction, I’m looking for projects for the trade market, not educational.)

For illustrators and author-illustrators, I’m looking for art that has a certain warmth to it. Something to bring the reader closer. I also love seeing illustrators that work with a variety of mediums in new and interesting ways (though I might not be a fit for all collage work.)

In middle grade, the most important thing is the voice. I’m open to almost all genres (though not a great fit for high fantasy or sci-fi) and would love to see fun, spunky commercial projects as well as more literary middle grade fiction.

In young adult, I’m looking for characters that I can relate to. Stories that are asking some of those big YA questions – who am I? What am I going to be in this world? Like middle grade, I’m open to most genres, though not YA horror, high fantasy or sci-fi.

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

In middle grade, I would love to find a mystery staring a spunky ,underdog heroine. Still haven’t found it yet, but I’m going to keep looking!

In YA, I would love to find a contemporary or historical fiction story that’s relevant to today’s news headlines.

In all genres, I’m open to #ownvoices authors and would love to add more diversity to my list.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not looking for early readers or chapter books for the very young at the moment. I’m also not a good fit for most high fantasy (dragons, elves, etc.) and sci-fi. I don’t want to say never, but my colleagues Beth Campbell (YA) and Moe Ferrera (MG and YA) would definitely be a better fit. (I really prefer magical realism, and love finding hints of magic in worlds that are relatable to our own.)
In picture books, I’m generally not interested in stories written in rhyme (particularly if it’s done all in couplets.) Again, I don’t want to say never, but unless you’re a previously published children’s poet, I’m probably not a great fit.

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?

As an agent, I want to help my authors grow – both on a career level and on a craft level. The authors I want to work with are professional, committed and open to revising until the book is as strong as we can make it. (By committed, I don’t mean that you have to be a full time writer – as a writer myself, I know that this isn’t the reality for most authors!)

I want to represent books that really speak to children and teens. That honor the whimsy of childhood, or tackle some of the things that real teens might be dealing with. I love books that have a feeling of hope (without being didactic or saccharine). I mean, childhood/adolescence was tough for almost everybody at some point – I want to help put books on the shelves that - on some level - empower, engage and/or inspire their readers.

(This sounds really cheesy, doesn’t it? But it’s true.)

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 am definitely an editorial agent, but the process changes for each manuscript. Some manuscripts will require a couple rounds of developmental editing before we get into a line edit. Some will be more heavily focused on a round or two of line editing. It really depends on what that particular manuscript needs in order to make it as submission-ready as possible.

When I make that first call to offer on a book, I always talk a bit about what is working and what could be stronger in a manuscript, and try to estimate what the revision process will look like (e.g. two rounds of developmental and a line edit). Again though, every book is different, and the goal is always to get to the point where editors are going to want to say “yes!”

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?

BookEnds uses QueryManager, so you can query me here: https://querymanager.com/query/tmarchini

In a query letter, I want to see a short one or two paragraph summary/pitch for the book (what the protagonist wants and what or who is going to stop them from achieving their goals); a short bio with any relevant writing credits; and whether or not the book has been previously published or seen by editors (if applicable).

Above all, I’m looking for a professional tone and manuscripts that would be a good fit for my list!

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

I talked a bit about first pages on another blog (I’ll link below), but in query letters I think the worst thing an author can do is be overly verbose. When an agent sees a wall of text or two page query letters, it gives the impression that the author is new to the field or hasn’t done their research. It also raises questions about the manuscript they’re pitching.

For example, if it takes an author seven paragraphs to explain their story versus one or two, that makes me wonder why they can’t distill the heart of their manuscript into a paragraph. Does that point to a manuscript with structural issues, e.g. too many unrelated subplots?

Response Time:

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

At BookEnds, we try to answer all queries within six to eight weeks. My requested manuscripts are, unfortunately, several months behind at the moment. But I am still reading and responding to everything as soon as I can.

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 am open to authors that have previously self-published or been published by smaller presses, but I am less open to trying to shop a manuscript that has already been self-published unless the sales numbers are phenomenal.

Because most publishers are hesitant to relaunch a book that’s already been published, my advice to authors would be to write a new book that is not in the same series as your self-published books and shop that to agents.

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 the basic role of agents is the same – to guide an author in their career, act as their advocate, and help them make the best decisions for their books.

I think self-publishing, more small presses, digital only imprints, etc. gives authors and agents more options, but also more things to consider when moving forward (e.g. how long has that small press been around and what feedback are you getting from other agents/authors who’ve worked with them? If self-publishing, then what happens if your primary distributor shuts down? How much marketing can the author successfully do on their own?)

Not every book may be right for a big 5 publisher or established independent press, and so the role of the agent is to help layout an author’s options and help them make the best decision in both the short and long-term.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie (Shark Nate-O, Little Bee), Lee and Low New Voices Award winner Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrator Charlene Chua, as well as some new voices in children’s literature that I hope you’ll be hearing from soon!

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.

I mentioned the first pages post earlier, and you can find that here.

You can also find my interview on BookEnds Literary’s blog for a bit more about me and what I’m looking for.

Links and Contact Info:

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

To query, please submit using https://querymanager.com/query/tmarchini

News and updates about my #TeamMarchini clients at BookEnds can be found here:
http://bookendsliterary.com/category/our-team/marchini/

I can also be found at:
www.tracymarchini.com
www.twitter.com/tracymarchini
www.facebook.com/tracymarchinibooks

Additional Advice:

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

I think the only thing that I would add is that you’re never too far along in your career to learn something new. As a writer, I think that means continuing to work on the craft with the same intensity as when you first started.

I know there are times where I give advice to clients about a manuscript, and then I’ll realize that I have the exact same problem in my current work-in-progress – be it a character issue, dialogue issue, etc.!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Tracy.

Tracy 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 29th. 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.

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.

65 comments:

  1. I like her philosophy. I love stories with hope, too.

    Tracy sounds very genuine.

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  2. Bookends is a great agency - and Tracy would be a great agent to work with!

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  3. I appreciated Tracy's honest answers. I liked her advice about always learning something new. Thanks for the inspiring interview.

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  4. Now I'm wondering what a "deliciously dark" picture book looks like? I didn't know that was a thing; learn something new every day etc...

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  5. Interesting post! Happy Easter! πŸ‡πŸ£πŸ‡πŸ£πŸ‡πŸ£πŸ‡πŸ£

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  6. This is a really great post! I especially like the part about querying, although I don't know that I'm at that point with any of my novels, except the one YA I finished. But I feel it probably needs a couple rounds of editing before I even think about sending it off. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

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  7. Great advice - always good to hear form the experts!

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  8. Gosh, I don't think that sounds cheesy at all. Childhood and adolescence really are difficult for nearly everyone. And books can certainly help.

    This is a wonderful agent interview, Natalie and Tracy. Thank you!

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  9. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

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  10. Great interview, I'd love a query critique!
    Angiedickinson06@gmail.com

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  11. Thank you for the interview and, please, sign me up for a query critique!

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  12. Thank you for sharing this interview. I don't think there's anything cheesy about wanting to see hope in children's lit. I agree that it's so important.

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  13. I'm more likely to enjoy a story with hints of magic, but grounded in the real world, too. There's something about adding that spice to the normal and mundane that gives a story an extra kick for me. I enjoyed reading the interview today. Thanks to you both.

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  14. Wow, I swear we would like the same books. I wanna see a list of her favorites, I feel like I would either love them already or need to read them soon!

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  15. Thanks for all the great tips! I agree that we're never too old or too experienced to learn more about the writing craft.

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  16. How wonderful that Tracy wants books with a message of hope. In this day in age, that is exactly what kids need!

    Thanks for the opportunity that you are giving authors/illustrators. The message of hope comes through even for us!

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  17. What a great interview, and Tracy I love your diverse experience in the publishing world! No query critique for me just now, but many thanks for all the great advice!

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  18. There is a lot to digest from this interview -thank you for sharing! It's great to see someone who appreciates magical realism. I'd like a query critique if available.
    kristan.mazemke@gmail.com

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  19. Lovely interview! Would love to win a critique from Tracy, melaniejsheppard@gmail.com.

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  20. Great interview! I would love to win a query critique. I have shared this on twitter, too.

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  21. There's a lot in this interview even though I don't write for children. Thank you. :-)

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  22. Great insights as always! I'd love to win a critique from Tracy. sjsubity@gmail.com

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  23. The line that speaks to me most is "you’re never too far along in your career to learn something new." I might also say "you're never too far along in life." I guess that's what continues making this maddening journey of being a writer so interesting.
    Please enter me for the critique, too.

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  25. I love the agent spotlight interviews. There's always something useful, even if the agent doesn't represent the category you write in.

    My email is abhinavnbhat@gmail.com

    I tweeted too.

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  26. Great interview! There really is always something new to learn, and I like that as a writer, Tracy is right alongside her clients in that process.

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  27. Great interview. Tracy, you sound like a great agent.

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  28. I love your advice, Tracy, about always being willing to learn something new as a writer. Great interview! My email is
    infowoman@sbcglobal.net. I sure would love to win a critique!

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  29. I think Tracy has a unique perspective from both author and agent points of view. Her advice is extremely helpful. Thank you, Tracy, for offering a critique to one lucky writer.

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  30. What an amazing opportunity!
    Thank you Tracy and Natalie for this interview.

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  31. Great reminder to keep going to conferences and taking classes - thanks!

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  32. I met Becky Cattie at an SCBWI workshop and read a draft of Shark Nate-o! Thrilled to hear she is working with an agent and publisher! Would love to have advice on my own query letter...

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  33. Thank you! Tweeted: https://twitter.com/MeAngelaD/status/854368398519578624

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  34. I would love to win a query critique from Tracy! Thank you for the great post.
    danette.byatt@gmail.com

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  35. Great interview! I would love the query critique. I've also tweeted about the contest. Monicachess26(@)gmail.com

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  37. What a wonderful interview! I would be grateful for a query critique! profrbailey@aol.com

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  38. This is great! Love these interviews, and this is a great one. I'd love a query critique!

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  39. Great interview, nice to get to know you, Tracy.

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  40. These agent interviews are always informative. Enjoyed it.

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  41. What a wonderful interview. So helpful for authors to learn exactly what an agent is looking for in a query and ms. Thanks for sharing. Great to hear from Tracy! :)
    ~Jess

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  42. Thank you for this great interview, Tracy (and Natalie)!

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  43. Great interview! Thank you so much for sharing! :)

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  44. Thank you so much for sharing Tracy. A wonderfully insightful interview.

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  45. Great interview. I like what Ms. Marchini said about continuing your writing with the same intensity as you always had.
    I'd love a query critique. I mentioned it on my Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MatthewMartinz/status/854542311660892160

    My email address is zchingz@hotmail.com

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  46. Super interview, Natalie. It's really interesting to read the differing perspectives of agents. I like how she talks about the continuing development and improvement of the craft - so important in many aspects of life. Thank you for sharing.

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  47. Nice interview, Natalie. These are always interesting.

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  48. Great interview!!! When I was looking for an agent, I had no idea there were editorial and non-editorial agents. My agent is editorial, so I got lucky there. I would recommend that for authors--that extra step in polishing your manuscript is priceless!

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  49. Nice. I've heard only good things about that agency, and with that many years of experience, Tracy sounds like a fabulous agent.

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  50. I'm glad you'll be taking over the agent highlights from Casey. I've always learned some much from those--but I think I like this interview format even better. I really like what Tracy said about still learning your craft with the same intensity as at the beginning.
    Great interview!

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  51. It's great to meet Tracy. She sounds like an agent I'd like to have if I wrote for those age groups.

    I'll pass on the giveaway this time. Have a good week! :)

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  52. What a coincidence. I just sent Tracy a query letter. :)

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  53. Your philosophy doesn't sound cheesy to me at all. And I agree that you are never too experienced (or old, lol) to learn something new. Its what keeps life interesting.

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  54. What a great interview! My YA novel does address the question of what my main protagonist wants to be in the world.

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  55. I have no doubt Tracy is a fantastic agent and advocate. I've used her freelance editing services and received some incredibly clear and helpful feedback, that was definitely in keeping with her philosophy. I'm not sure where my queries will end up, but I'm glad to have had her help along the way.

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  56. From reading what you said in your interview, I couldn't help but think, you sound just like me. I would love a critique with you. Tara Luebbe was one of my critique buddies from 12x12 so I've read Shark Nate-0. Small world, huh? I just submitted a manuscript to you. I don't often use a google acct. Joan.bigpaws@gmail.com and I have a twitter profile. Fluffmonkey10

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  57. Very insightful interview. And I totally agree with her on how writers learn and evolve every day. Thanks, Tracy!
    I'd love a query critique. Here's my email: meeraTsriram@gmail.com Thank you!

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  58. Thanks so much for this opportunity! As luck would have it, I just sent Tracy a query. And yes, I learn something about writing for children all the time!

    Mentioning on Twitter! (@AmyMMiller1).

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  59. I queried Tracy last year and got a request to see more of my work. Although it ended up being a pass, I would really welcome a critique from Tracy. Will definitely mention on twitter @kayebaillie

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  60. I enjoyed Tracy's interview. I especially liked the fact that all the agents at Bookends collaborate on sub letters. It must be a friendly place full of smart people!

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  61. Informative read, for sure. Everything I have read about & by Tracy makes me like her! I am flirting with the idea of signing with an agent. She is making me consider it more seriously! Thanks, Natalie!!!!!!

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  62. Thank you for the informative interview and critique opportunity!

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  63. Fabulous interview. It's so helpful to get more insight into whether an agent is a good fit for your work. Thanks! anlyledo at gmail dot com.

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  64. Nothing more important: "As an agent, I want to help my authors grow..."

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