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Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Larissa Helena Agent Spotlight Interview on 9/10/2018


AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH CLAIRE ANDERSON-WHEELER AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Claire Anderson-Wheeler here. She is a literary agent at Regal Hoffmann & Associates.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Claire! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi Natalie. Thanks very much for having me. I began as an assistant in a London-based agency nine years ago. What led me to agenting was a mix of things: a love of words and stories of course, and more specifically I was drawn to agenting over publishing because it seemed so closely linked to the author and to the earliest steps of developing their careers. That felt exciting to me, and still does. As an agent I’ve been doing lots of things! I have specialized in Rights in many of my positions, meaning I oversee our efforts, in conjunction with colleagues abroad, to get our clients’ books published in translation. On the domestic side, it’s a very varied and versatile role. Today I followed up on some contracts that are in negotiation; checked in on some delivery dates for projects my clients are working on; got in some new reviews for a client and had them filed and circulated; called in a few manuscripts I want to read more of; responded to some clients about new material they’ve been working on; and arranged some dates with scouts and editors for upcoming meetings.If it’s a slow day, maybe I’ll get to do a bit of reading, but mainly that happens outside office hours.

About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

It’s a smallish-to-midsize agency (there are six of us), founded in 2002. I think it’s a pretty great combination of cosy yet substantial. We’re well-connected among publishers and scouts, and we talk a lot in-house, so there’s a strong knowledge pool here. Between us we speak and read in five languages besides English, and we’re a pretty outward-looking agency. We think a lot about the potential careers of our authors outside the US, and we’re also interested in bringing authors in translation into the US market. I like that sense of scope and perspective that we carry. Also the founders have strong Hollywood connections and historically we bat well above our weight in terms of book-to-film tracks for our clients. We’re serious about editing, and we don’t let projects go out to publishers that we haven’t invested the best of ourselves in.

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 MG and YA and the very, very occasional picture book. Within these boundaries I read across genres with gusto. I am open to nonfiction also, but principally looking for fiction. I can be equally excited by contemporary stories and fantastical ones, historical or alt-historical. Really for me it depends on that magical feeling – if you sink into the first few pages and feel like you don’t want to be anywhere else.

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

While I’m open to anything, I’d quite like to see more magic realism; folk tale-inspired fantasy (something like the Winternight trilogy for YA);urban fantasy or epic high fantasy.In short, anything with really great worldbuilding. I feel a bit burned out on Japanese-influenced urban fantasy, but I always appreciate worldbuilding that builds its fantasy from a strong cultural base that’s not necessarily Anglo-Saxon culture. Mayan, Maui, Celtic, Persian…hit me with it!   

What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I don’t tend to go for lighter romance/“summer love” type novels, but you can count me in for tougher love stories that take on challenging themes.

Agent Philosophy:
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?

The authors I want to work with: professional, committed to their work, but leave ego at the door when it’s time for an editorial conversation. The books I want to represent: in a word, brave books. Books that have their own vision. 

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

Very much so, I think you can’t afford not to be. The process varies author to author, it’s about me being flexible according to their individual methodologies. Most typically, I’ll do a “macro” pass or two from when I first start working with an author, and then if things are looking good at a bigger structural level, we might start to break it down and have the writer send it chunk by chunk, and use that time to make sure the chapters are individually polished.

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?

So, what I’m going to say conflicts a bit with what’s on our website – sorry! Our house policy is the first ten pages in-line in the email, but I quite like to see a bit more. My ideal is the first three chapters plus an in-depth synopsis – something closer to 1000 than 500 words.

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

I don’t have pet peeves. I have the usual requirements: that a query be articulate, informative, reasonably concise, professional, and written in neutral language.

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

That’s such a hard question. At the moment, we have a house policy where we only get back to writers whose work we feel able to pursue – so if we don’t call in a full MS, it means sadly, we don’t feel we’re a good match. We really wish we had the manpower to get back to everyone individually and let them know if it’s a pass, but unfortunately we just can’t while still giving the necessary attention to our clients. But if I call in a full manuscript, I would hope to have a response on it within three months. Sometimes that can drag. Sometimes it can be a bit faster.  

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’m open to it, though probably just for their new book, not for the book they’ve already published. I don’t think their query should differ much from the usual one, and in fact unless their previously-published work had an unexpected measure of success, I’m not convinced they need even mention it at query stage. It doesn’t endear me to a submission if the writer, in explaining why they’re looking for an agent this time around, goes on about how self-publishing let them down or they hate their indie publisher. I don’t want to take on a cranky author who’s full of would shoulda couldas. 

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?

Not a lot. I think writers will always need allies and a second pair of seasoned eyes, and though our roles may change around the edges, I don’t think the fundaments will change all that much.

Clients:
13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Joanne O’Sullivan, Samantha Mabry, Liesl Shurtliff, Lauren Gibaldi, AJ Steiger

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.


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

Writers can send to our centralized submissions portal or directly to me at claire at rhaliterary dot com. Either way they’ll reach me.
@claireawheeler on Twitter

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

The “butt in chair” philosophy is a good one! Don’t wait for the muse to strike. Commit yourself to making time for your work. Give it the respect you want other people to have for it. But be tough on your product too. Test it for weak spots. Better for you to see them now than for an agent to see them later! Never hang onto material because you can’t bear to see the labour wasted. Only hang on to the stuff that does true justice to your talent.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Claire.

Thanks for having me!

­Claire 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 March 27th.  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.

25 comments:

  1. It's good to meet Claire! Appreciate her advice too. I liked her comment about leaving ego at the door when editing comes into play. It's such an important part of the process of making a great book.

    Thanks for hosting, Natalie. I'll pass on the giveaway. Have a great week! Stay safe with this next storm coming through.

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  2. No one likes a cranky author!
    Amazing the agency as a whole speaks so many languages.

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  3. Nice to meet you, Claire! Love the advice about leaving the ego at the door. It's a sure way to get hurt and quit if you don't.

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  4. Her description of cozy yet substantial makes me want to ask her for representation.

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  5. Wonderful Interview. Nice meeting Claire.

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  6. Another great interview, Natalie!

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  7. Great insight and interview indeed. Yeah, having one's ego checked at the door is a big help for sure.

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  8. Making time for your work is such an important statement. Claire's answers provided deep insight into how she and the agency operate. Thanks for the enjoyable read.

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  9. I found this interview really helpful. Insight into editing, previous publishing endeavors, and what she's looking for now. Thanks!

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  10. Claire sounds terrific and this interview is very informative. Thanks!

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  11. Thanks for the informatve interview. Claire sounds like a terrific agent.

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  12. Thanks for the interview! I do wonder if she wants three chapters, should it pasted in the body of the email or sent as an attachment?

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    1. Hi Angela, I checked the website, and it doesn't say anything about attachments. However, most agents don't like them so you might want to paste it in the e-mail and offer to send the attachment if she wants it. Just a thought.

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  13. another great interview! I have mentioned it on twitter, too. Would love to win a query critique. Thanks Natalie :)

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  14. Thank you for another great interview, Natalie! Claire sounds like an awesome agent. I would like to be entered in the query critique giveaway.

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  15. Nice interview. Claire sounds great! Thanks for this opportunity!

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  16. Another informative interview, Natalie. Thanks to Claire for sharing!

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  17. Thanks Natalie for the opportunity to learn more about Claire.

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  18. Thanks for the introduction and the interview. Love it when I read about an agent who reps the author of a book I love!

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  19. Thanks for the interview, she looks like an amazing agent! I'm querying her today. :)

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  20. Thanks for the interview! bryna.podwoiski@cyclebar.com

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  21. This was a great interview. Thank you for taking the time to post this. williscmd@gmail.com

    T

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  22. Thanks for the opportunity to find out a little bit about Claire and her philosophy - always so helpful.

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  23. I'm subscribed to your blog under the yahoo account lilk8tob3 (not my gmail log-in)-- I hope this doesn't cause any confusion if I'm lucky enough to get picked! Thanks again for doing this!

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