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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: Lynnette Novak Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Lynnette Novak here. She is a literary agent at The Seymour Agency.

Hi­ Lynnette! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Lynnette:

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

I mentored in Pitch Wars for two years (2015 and 2016) as a freelance editor. It was amazing. I loved having contestants send entries to me and enjoyed going through my slush pile to choose a manuscript I wanted to help a writer improve. That first year gave me the itch to become an agent and my Pitch Wars time in 2016 confirmed it. I pushed that feeling aside, believing you had to become an intern at an agency right out of university. I didn’t do that, so I thought I’d missed the boat.

At times, I divided my day between my elementary teaching job, freelance editing, and writing. You read that right! I used to write, so I know what writers go through and can totally relate! I wrote romantic suspense novels and was starting to get somewhere, winning awards or coming close. I even had an offer of representation from an agent for one of my books. So exciting!!! However, a conversation I had with another agent while attending the RWA conference as a Golden Heart Finalist threw me for a loop!

I told her how much fun I had as a Pitch Wars mentor and I wished I could be an agent too. She laughed. She said with seventeen years freelance editing experience, I could jump right into agenting.

Wait. What…

I had some thinking to do. There was no way I’d start two new careers at the same time (as an author and agent). My hair would all fall out! So, I asked myself which career path I NEEDED to pursue. Agenting. No question. I get to read for a living. I get to experience so many worlds, characters, and plots—much more than if I had been writing my own stories. And I get to work with talented editors, agents, and authors aka My Peeps! I contacted a handful of literary agencies, received three offers, and chose to work with The Seymour Agency in 2017.

Best. Decision. Ever.

About the Agency:

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

The Seymour Agency strives to offer aspiring and established authors the representation and resources they need to succeed in the ever-evolving publishing industry.

 

Our literary agents firmly believe in exploring every opportunity for our authors. From foreign and audio rights to film, television, and other multimedia and digital prospects such as gaming and apps, we strive to provide hands-on emotional, professional, promotional, and editorial counsel to each one of our authors.

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?

Currently looking for: (Always looking for own voices, diversity, and LGBTQ+!!!)

In adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and mysteries (traditional, amateur sleuth, and cozy).

In young adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, horror, contemporary, mysteries, and fantasy.

In middle grade fiction: contemporary, horror, fantasy, action/adventure, mystery, humor, and novels in verse.

In children’s fiction: picture books (non-rhyming preferred).

In graphic novels: chapter books, early readers, MG, and YA.

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

This is constantly changing, but right now, I’m looking to add to my middle grade and young adult lists, including graphic novels in those age groups.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

At the moment, I’m not looking for science fiction in any age category.

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

I’m not interested in adult nonfiction or Christian fiction.

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?

It’s very important to me to represent marginalized voices so I can help get those voices into the world.

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?

I’ll bet you never guessed I’m an editorial agent. Did my seventeen years as a freelance editor give it away? LOL Of course, it depends on the project, but generally speaking, we do at least one big picture/developmental edit. I read the MS and give the author notes on what is and isn’t working. I make suggestions on how to fix issues, but I don’t expect the author to necessarily use my suggestions—although, they’re more than welcome to. What I’m really saying is, “There’s a problem here. Please fix it.”

After the author sends the revised MS back, I then open Track Changes and make comments about all kinds of things like stilted dialogue; buried dialogue; repetition; passive writing; information/backstory dump; not enough emotion; show, don’t tell; talking heads, POV slip; not enough conflict; stakes aren’t clear; scene feels rushed; GMCs need to be fleshed out; pick up the pace; and the list goes on.

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?

Please query me through Query Manager: https://QueryManager.com/QueryLynnetteNovak. Queries sent to my email address will be deleted, unread. I like a one-page query that includes a pitch and short bio. The first five pages should be attached. If you start with a prologue, you can mention it, but I’d rather see the first five pages of the actual story unless I’ve requested to see more. Note: If I “heart” your pitch in a Twitter pitch party, I want you to send it to my query email address not Query Manager. Yes, it’ll be read and I’ll reply to let you know if I’m interested.

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

If the query is more about the author than the story, I might not be able to get a strong feel for the premise and could reject for that reason. Sell me on your writing.

Response Time:

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

That varies. It depends on my schedule at the time. I TRY to stay on top of queries by responding between 1 day and 1 month.

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 have hybrid authors who self-publish and are traditionally published (or seeking to be traditionally published), and I have clients whose first book was with a small press. I won’t represent a book that has already been published, even if it was self-published. Many publishers won’t touch them. I’d rather have a new story to shop. As far as advice goes, be transparent. You don’t want to start a professional relationship with your agent by “forgetting” to mention the book has already been published.

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?

Publishing is constantly changing, so we adapt accordingly. As long as there are contracts to be negotiated, agents will still be around.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Megan Hart/Mina Hardy

USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon Charts bestselling author M.M. Chouinard

Award-winning picture book author Joanna Rowland

Laura Brown

Stacey Agdern

Joel Shulkin, MD

Marzieh Abbas

Sahtinay Abaza

Alice Lin

Akure Phénix

Medeia Sharif

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

9/2/2022 Update: Agent of the Month Intro, Part 1 Interview, Part 2 Interview at Writing and Illustrating 9/2022

Links and Contact Info:

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

https://QueryManager.com/QueryLynnetteNovak

Additional Advice:

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

Having realistic expectations and a thick skin can make this industry a little more bearable.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lynnette.

­Lynnette 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 September 3rd. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

89 comments:

Ilona Bray said...

Lynette's quick list of writing issues is fabulous, thanks! Would love a query critique.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great interview! It sounds like Lynette definitely made the right choice in becoming an agent. (I'm not querying, so I'll let someone else win the query critique)

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for the interview, glad to hear that Lynette didn't give up and pursued the thing that she really wanted to do.

Martin Porter said...

Interesting interview - especially making the decision to be an agent rather than an author! And love that you pursued your dream and made it come true.
And your list of potential writing issues is both enlightening and terrifying at the same time. :)

Tara said...

Great interview! Thanks for the opportunity for a query critique!

Cathy Sheafor said...

Wonderful interview and great opportunity for a critique. Thank you to both of you :)

Judith L. Roth said...


Interesting how Lynnette realized her passion for agenting. Thanks for the crit opportunity!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, this was a great interview and I love the opportunity
Nellynunez90004@yahoo.com

Andi Chitty said...

Great interview! Loved reading the short-fire list of critique issues, and about how she got into agenting. Sounds like she's found her calling, I've only heard good things about Lynnette as an agent!

Anonymous said...

Email: chittystone@gmail.com

jennamhammond@gmail.com said...

Thank you for all your interviews and to Lynette for her answers and the critique opportunity!

Barbara Kimmel said...

Another great interview! Thank you! I would love to be entered for the opportunity for a critique with Lynette.

Elizabeth James said...

I’d love to win! I follow via email.

Helloelizabethjames At gmail dot com

Lauren said...

Thanks for the informative interview and critique opportunity!

Anonymous said...

What an excellent article! Emilyholewczynski@gmail.com

Amy Miller said...

Great interview! It’s so cool to see a nontraditional path towards an agenting career. Thanks for this opportunity.

I retweeted!

Ana Siqueira said...

Thanks for the advice. Having thick skin is so needed. Patience is a must in this publishing world.

Laddy Lau said...

Great interview! I enjoy hearing about Lynette's journey to becoming an agent. Would love a critique!

Morgan Lau (retweet from @morgancreates)

Anonymous said...

@trunkythetree
Thank you for such a fascinating interview and maybe one day you will go back to your writing but wonderful you have given others all your knowledge and gifts
Trunkyandowlbert at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey, and for all of the great advice. I appreciate the opportunity for a query critique! steenahernandez@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview and thank you so much for the advice! I appreciate the critique opportunity. erinquill8@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Natalie! I would love input from Lynn and I tweeted about the critique opportunity. mhberg@sbcglobal.net or mhberg61@gmail.com

Carrie_Karnes_Fannin said...

Enjoyed learning more about Lynn's journey to becoming an agent!

Would love a query critique. I've also quote tweeted Natalie's post from this date (8/17/22) on my own Twitter feed. @Carrie_KidLit

Liz A. said...

It's great she found that she could jump into agenting. It sounds like that's what's really bringing her joy at the moment.

Pete Springer said...

I appreciate all the advice and wish Lynnette the best with her career choice as a literary agent. As a retired teacher who will always support a fellow teacher, I like to see good people educating young minds.

Ryann Jones said...

Great interview. Loved learning more about Lynette’s journey.
I retweeted on Twitter:)

Anonymous said...

It’s always nice to hear about an agent’s journey. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I hadn’t known of your blog before today, but I’ll definitely check back. I’d love an entry to the query literary as well! Thank you! In case you need it, my email is melissagardner3 at gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Great idea! Love learning about people’s literary journeys. Count me in the contest dkpdwrites@gmail.com

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interview! Thanks for the information!

Sara said...

Thanks for the great interview!My email is sara at leachfamily.ca

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview! Thank you for your insight, Lynnette, and for the generous critique opportunity! KaitlynDavisBooks@gmail.com

Cristina Raymer said...

Great interview and thank you for this opportunity!
Email: raymer328@gmail.com
Retweet: @craymer328

Nancy Gow said...

Seventeen years as a freelance editor must make you a dynamite editorial agent. Here's hoping...

Melissa said...

I always love hearing how agents got into the business! Thanks for doing the interview and sharing your process!

Thank you also for offering a query critique--I'd love to be entered into the drawing for it, thank you!

Karen said...

Great interview with Lynnette. Thanks for the opportunity for a query critique!

Kathy Kelly said...

The Seymour Agency has such wonderful agents!

Kathy Kelly
kkelly403@comcast.net

Weaver said...

Nice interview!

Amy Thernstrom said...

Thanks for the interview and critique opportunity. She seems to have a lot of enthusiasm and energy. amythernstrom@yahoo.com

Ella said...

Thank you for the great interview! I would like a query critique. I've tweeted this interview: https://twitter.com/ElaMishne/status/1560255138329231360

email: ela.mishne@gmail.com

Shanah Salter said...

another great interview. I would love to be considered for a query critique. I have shared on Twitter.

Tara Cerven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tanya Elchuk said...

Another great interview. I really appreciate the agent details you post, especially about their mswl. Thank you both! (And please enter me in the contest!)

Katie TheLogonauts said...

Such great information - love the jump from freelance editing to agenting (and editing). Thanks for the opportunity!

I quote tweeted about the contest (@katie_mcenaney) and am subscribed already via 1logonaut@gmail.com.

Tara Cerven said...

I loved learning about Lynette's journey to agenting. So inspiring. I'd love a critique! I am also tweeting about this contest. Fingers crossed.

Cecilia Bresin said...

Awesome interview. Thanks for the advice and the opportunity! I’d love a query critique! My email is cecibre1@gmail.com

Caitlin said...

Great interview! Thank you for the query critique opportunity.

Rachel Fremmer said...

I'd love to win a query critique! rfremmer@gmail.com

feecaro said...

Wonderful interview. So interesting that Lynette got interested in agenting after PitchWars (RIP). I would love to be entered in the query critique giveaway. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Love learning about this industry! Thank you also for the critique giveaway. Jessicalynmahoney@gmail.com

Deborah Foster said...

Thank you for the wonderful tips! I would love a chance to win a critique!

Lisa cloherty said...

Great interview. Lynnette is one of my “dream agents” would love to win a critique!

Anonymous said...

Email is lisaclohertybooks@gmail.com

Mary said...

Thanks so much for the great interview and opportunity!
I have also tweeted and posted on facebook.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Thank you!

Paula said...

Great interview, Natalie. Would love a chance to win a query critique! Thank!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I am a huge fan of Lynnette. Please consider me for a critique. Thank you. Rahimazra@outlook.com

Angela said...

What a delightful post! I loved learning more about Lynette's journey. Thank you for sharing this wonderful interview and please consider me for a critique!

Tonja Drecker said...

What an inspiring post! I guess we put our own borders up quite often. It has me thinking, now, too.

Megan Whitaker said...

Love the comprehensive list of writing issues-I think I might make them into a checklist-of course sometimes I'm just too close to the mss to see the issues but it might help! Thank you for the opportunity to win a query critique!

Rosi said...

Thanks for another very informative interview. I always learn something from these. I will pass on the giveaway. Thanks for the post.

Nazanin Mirsadeghi said...

Such an amazing interview! Having the opportunity to work with a literary agent like Lynnette Novak who has this extensive editorial experience and vision to elevate her clients' manuscripts is just GOLDEN!

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to hear how Ms. Novak became an agent. She sounds like her editorial background is a big plus to the authors she represents. Please enter me in the giveaway for the query critique. whoopie@whoopiechicken.com

Melisa Wrex said...

I would love a query critique from Lynnette! Thank you for the interview and prize opportunity.

Children's Book Author said...

I would love a critique :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview and opportunity to win a query review. My email is: michellesteinberg@comcast.net

Jo Ann B. said...

Thanks for the interview and chance to win a critique! Lynette Novak sounds like a great fit for my work.

Melissa-Jane Nguyen said...

Fab interview and great to read a little about Lynnette's editing process.

Thank you for the opportunity to win a query critique!

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

I would love a query critique! Thanks for sharing this interview.

Shamaila J said...

Very nice interview. I would love to be entered for the query critique. My email is shamaila.siddique@gmail.com

Stephanie M said...

Great interview. I am definitely interested in querying you for both PB and an early reader. I have shared this on Twitter.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this interview!! I would love a query critique :) I am a follow of this blog and I also shared this interview on Twitter.

Carolyn Cory Scoppettone said...

Thanks for sharing your insights. I'd love a query critique. Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Great interview!

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

Thank you both for the interview...and for offering a critique giveaway. I would love the opportunity!

Biz said...

Thank you for the interview and opportunity. Lynette is one of my "dream agents;" would love a query critique: elizabethchestney@gmail.com
Thank you!

AdlM said...

Yup, thick skin, probably the most important skill!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this insight, Lynette! Love hearing your tips and would love to win a query critique too! mdekker@pacbell.net

Becky said...

Would love a critique!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I absolutely love learning more and more about Lynette, I’ve been following her tweets for a while now. Thank you so much for sharing this interview! I would love to work with her and would be honoured to have a critique. I have RT the post. I have a pb that I’d love Lynette to see, so a critique would be amazing!! Thank you again. My email is suzanne.elson6@gmail.com

Amelia said...

Someone who followed their dreams helping others follow their dreams - great interview!

LRH said...

Thank you- wonderful and helpful interview with what sounds like a stellar agent. Would love a query critique with her!
Lauren

Lauri Meyers said...

Love your decision to jump into agenting. Sounds like your editorial expertise is making clients (and readers!) dreams come true.

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

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

Very informative! Thanks for the query critique opportunity! I've tweeted about this giveaway.
(@AngieSDickinson)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great interview!

Ken said...

Wonderful interview! Thanks for sharing it!