Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • 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.

Literary Agent Interview: Alex Slater Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Alex Slater here. He is a literary agent at Sandford J Greenburger Associates in their Greenburger Kids division.

Hi­ Alex! Thanks so much for joining us.

 About Alex:

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

 

After graduating from UConn in 2007, I answered a Craigslist ad (remember those?) for a Literary Internship in New York City. I interviewed and got the gig, for which I am ever grateful. As a result, I’ve only ever worked in agencies. That internship led to a full-time position as an assistant, where back then, I literally manned the slush pile: the big box of query letters, just a few years before they would all turn into emails. So long story short: after two years there (the Maria Carvainis Agency), and then twelve years at Trident Media Group, I am now thrilled to be bringing my passion for publishing and my expertise in its business to SJGA and GreenburgerKids.

 About the Agency:

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

 

Sanford J. Greenburger Associates is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and in all that time, the company has represented some of the most beloved children’s authors and illustrators, such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (THE LITTLE PRINCE) and Felix Salten (BAMBI). To continue in that spirit of supporting and developing the next generation of classic books for young readers, we’ve launched GreenburgerKids, a new division solely dedicated to picture books, graphic novels, and middle grade and YA literature. GreenburgerKids’ vision is to launch and nurture the careers of today’s most dynamic and important authors with a passionate team whose expertise reaches every part of the complex and competitive children’s market.

What He’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?

Primarily, I represent MG and YA, across all categories: graphic novels, nonfiction, and fiction. I do some picture books, but there are others on my team who are the true experts at that age group. And as always, I am looking to represent passionate projects from writers who have been systematically held back. I love horror, thrillers, off-beat humor, and moving and meaningful rom-coms.

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

I would love to see more middle grade horror. I think there is a lot of interest in that space right now, and I love books that push the envelope, but for substantial, and thought-provoking reasons.

What He Isn’t Looking For:

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

I am not interested in high fantasy, even though, especially when looking at the bestseller lists, I sometimes wish I was!

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?

I have always been interested in working with authors who offer the respect that I offer them, for their time and their work, and who share a long-term vision for their career. Writers must understand that this business is not only slow, but extremely competitive. In regard to the types of books I represent, I have been known to say that when I’m reading new material, I tend to look to see if I’m engrossed in a voice first, in a character. And when I find that I am, and I witness this character come to a choice, for example, when they decide to do something that they know is wrong, but they do it anyway…that’s when I’m clearing my schedule for the rest of the day because suddenly, I must finish this book. I am forever intrigued by characters who take the harder road, who are messy, and who make mistakes, because I believe that the best readers are also flawed, imperfect, and redemptive individuals. We all want to see ourselves in our stories. We all deserve to. So, what moves me are these choices we make, the mistakes, the journeys and the changes that ultimately bring us to joy.

 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?

 Yes, I am definitely an editorial agent. It’s one of the things I welcomed the most when I moved from being a Foreign Rights agent to a domestic agent. Back then, I was handed the work, and I had to just sell it. Now, I get to roll up my sleeves and get to work on making a project as perfect as we absolutely can make it on our own. When we get there, when we go act by act and make sure that this house is standing tall and strong, so to speak, then I always prepare the submission very transparently. I share the editor lists with my clients, ask for their input, and discuss all the reasons for the potential buyers. I find working this closely always helps generate what could be unexpected ideas.

 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?

I would love just a straight query letter, modeled on the back cover copy of your own favorites books, emailed to ASlater@sjga.com.

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

Do not make it too long. Keep it economical. Think about it like this: most agents are reading these query letters on their smart phones, so you have the time it takes for someone’s thumb to swipe up to catch them.

Response Time:

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

A few months is much appreciated.

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?

Yes, I am open to this, but usually not for books that have already been self-published themselves.

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 see agents being needed more and more to help guide authors through this changing literary landscape. If self-publishing is your thing and you’ve got that down, great, do your thing. However, having an agent expand your business globally is something every author should consider. The same can be said about book-to-film, audio, and the graphic novel spaces. Things are changing quickly, and a good agent should be there with you for not just one project, but for the scope of your entire career.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Keah Brown, Frederick Joseph, Janae Marks, and Ali Novak.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews, guest posts, and podcasts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

N/A

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please feel free to email ASlater@sjga.com.

Check us out on our website: https://www.greenburger.com/agent/alexander-slater

Or my Twitter page: https://twitter.com/abuckslater

Additional Advice:

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

Some brutal truth: prepare for rejection. It is the life of the writer. If you’re not prepared for the shock of someone not connecting with your work (as an agent, I experience this shock on behalf of my clients all the time) then you’re not ready for this life. Tip two: If you’re seeking an agent, research them. Flatter them with your knowledge of their books, style, and wish list. All literary agents are deeply susceptible to adulation, but more than that, don’t waste your time pitching to someone who doesn’t play your sport. Tip three: Have patience. Children’s publishing is not only extremely competitive, but it’s a long game. Even if you get a book deal for your debut novel, the chances of you earning out that first advance are low. The chances of you earning out your second advance are low. Most spines on kid’s books are thin, and the best way to see a return on your business is by building up your volume on that bookshelf. So keep working, but most importantly, keep doing what you love.  

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Alex.

­Alex is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through August 5th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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.

 

 

38 comments:

Tonja Drecker said...

Through Craigslist...that's interesting! Thanks for the fun interview!

Liz A. said...

Funny how that first job influences everything.

Anonymous said...

I love that Alex is an editorial agent, too! Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Kerriefayebooks@gmail.com

John Zeleznik said...

Alex is a guy I'd love to work with. He sounds like my kind of agent.


john.zeleznik@gmail.com (just in case)

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

Thanks for the interview! I've also mentioned this contest on Twitter. orchardka@gmail.com

feecaro said...

Great interview! I appreciated Alex's candid thoughts (especially about writers and rejection). I would love to be entered into the critique giveaway.

Jacqui Murray said...

Great interview. I've always liked Sandford Greenburger, though my books have never quite reached their level of interest (I write in a niche genre). I like Alex's idea of a perfect client--"working with authors who offer the respect that I offer them, for their time and their work, and who share a long-term vision for their career."

Ella said...

Thank you for the great interview! I've mentioned this contest on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElaMishne/status/1550135146749300736
I would love a query critique. Email: ela.mishne@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Alexander,
I especially liked your advice to research each agent and the types of books they are drawn to. I want an agent who is enthused about the work I’ve poured my heart into. I’d love to win a query critique.

Anonymous said...

Here is my email for the above comment. Susan Twiggs setwiggs@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Great honest advice ~ Though he wasn't interested in the MG query I sent him, I'd love to have a chance to see his critique for my YA. aschultz@mail.ubc.ca

Kerry Hansen (she/her) said...

Alex sounds wonderful. I posted this interview on Twitter and would love to win a query critique. Thank you! kerryhansen@outlook.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Alex, for confirming my suspicion that all agents are deeply susceptible to adulation. You’re amazingly talented, by the way, a fact I would be sorely tempted to tell you every time we spoke if you were my agent. But I would only want you to be my agent if you thought I was amazingly talented, too, in which case you should feel free to tell me as often as you like. It turns out writers are deeply susceptible to adulation too.
Email: juliehmata@gmail.com

Emily M. Bailey said...

This is full of such great advice - note to self - In it for the long haul...I'd love to win this critique. I've shared on twitter too:) Thank you Natalie and Alex!
Emilym.bailey3@gmail.com

ms.nellynunez@gmail.com said...

Alex, you're amazing and thanks for this opportunity.

Lauri Meyers said...

Great interview. I appreciate getting to hear more about Alex. I tweeted the quote that blew me away about having for having thumb swipe to hook the agent!

Kate Larkindale said...

Great interview! Really solid advice.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. The thumb swipe query opened my eyes. Shortened my query paragraphs to 2 after reading this. Would love to win a critique with Alex. Retweeted on Twitter.

Anonymous said...

Oops! My email is ziaerique@yahoo.com

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Great interview! I'd loved to be entered for the query critique
RuthSchiffmann@gmail.com

Martin Porter said...

Another good, insightful interview. Thank you! martinleeporter@gmail.com

Jennifer P. said...

Thank you for all of the great insights, Alex. Helpful advice! I'd love to win a critique.

Anonymous said...

Insightful interview. I’d love the chance - do I just submit email in these comments and follow you on Twitter? Just confirming steps -

Liz Hanson said...

Incredible advice for writers. Thanks so much Natalie and Alex! I would love a query critique. lizhansonbooks@gmail.com

Nicole said...

I've followed off sidebar - hope that's the way to enter this comp as it's a great idea and chance for feedback

Nicole said...

- oh and here's my email just in case too, thanks Natalie and Alex for your care for aspiring authors! - nicolepentis@icloud.com

Natalie Aguirre said...

Yes, that's a way to follow the blog. Thanks so much for being a follower.

Natalie Aguirre said...

You should follow the blog via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar and leave your email in a comment. Thanks so much for being a follower. I appreciate it.

Jasmine Krouse said...

Thank you, Natalie, for this interview, and all the others. Great advice from Alex. Crossing all my fingers and toes to win the critique. jasminekrouse07@gmail.com

Jasmine Krouse said...

@JasmineKrouse I tweeted the interview!

Ma.nellynunez@gmail.com said...

What and awesome opportunity 😊

Ms.nellynunez@gmail.com said...

Sorry wanted to correct my email. But thanks for this opportunity

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Rachel said...

Thanks for these great agent interviews, they're so helpful when querying!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks for all the tips :)

My email is bookslifeotheroddites@gmail.com

Kathy Kelly said...

I love your agency's focus on KidLit with your new Greenburger Kids division!
kkelly403@comcast.net