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Literary Agent Interview: Kristen Terrette Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kristen Terrette here. She is a literary manager at Martin Literary Management.

Hi­ Kristen! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Kristen:

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

A few years ago, I started joking with friends that agenting would be my dream job—getting to work with authors and books all day sounded amazing! Eventually, the thought settled and took root. I started asking, “How can I make that happen?”

And I’m still asking myself how it did, how I got so lucky being hired last fall by Martin Literary and Media Management. I truly believe my Writers House Intern Program (summer of 2022) moved me up amongst the applicants, then my background, once pieced together from all my different publishing jobs and career opportunities paved the way for an interview with Sharlene Martin.

The array of things I’ve done—teaching, children’s ministry, writing (fiction, nonfiction, articles/blogs), editing, social media and blog managing—gave me the skills needed. Sharlene is wonderful and confident in her ability to train and take on new and eager managers, and she wanted to fill some gaps in the genres her company represented.

I was able to fill the faith-based submissions gap for her. Combined with women-focused crime thrillers, taking on kid lit submissions (which there are a lot of), and my other wishlist genres, the timing was just right! I hit the ground running and have taken on twelve clients, and a few I’m hopeful to sign soon. J I’ve gotten quite a few submissions out already and hope to make some big announcements soon!

About the Agency:

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

Martin Literary & Media Management just hit their twenty year anniversary!

 

Here’s the lowdown on us: We’re a full service literary and media management agency. We focus on representing authors of adult nonfiction, fiction, and books for children and young adults. Our clients’ titles have appeared on the New York Times bestseller and other national bestseller lists, earned strong reviews, received many awards, and garnered national media attention. Many of our clients’ works have been optioned and developed for film and television projects and have helped promote speaking engagements.

 

We pride ourselves on providing thoughtful and considerate management of our clients. We also pride ourselves on being a modern literary agency capable of developing the many potential ancillary opportunities that exist outside of the book world.

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’m looking for Kidlit in all age ranges and for both fiction and nonfiction. I will say my PB lists feels tight right now, and Middle Grade is getting there, but as long as I find projects fundamentally different from what a client’s already bring to the table, I’m game to look at it with excitement. And a great book is a great book! I haven’t signed any MG or YA Fantasy novels yet, so I’d love to fill that gap. I’m not the best for HIGH fantasy, and it MUST stand out from my other submissions, but send it! Also, note, I’m not drawn to weak female protagonists. I’d also love more supernatural or scary stories in MG and YA. As well as genre mashups. J

I am also really looking for some Christian Women’s fiction, Suspense, or Romance. Please send me some of this! And also in the Christian lane, I’d love devotionals for all ages. (Note, this needs to some from an author with a platform to leverage.)

In the adult fiction genre, I want women’s crime thrillers, suspense, supernatural, horror, speculative… I don’t read true science fiction, so I’m not the best for those submissions.

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

Scary, ominous stories! I’m not into lots of gore, but I wish had more creepy manuscripts in my inbox.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Science Fiction. Self-published books where the author is now trying to find representation for that book (it’s too late). Political Agenda Plots. Extremely foul-mouthed characters. Books over 100,000 words.

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?

My philosophy is to work with authors who represent a wide array of genres/subgenres and ways of life with books that speak to this. No matter the genre, I want my client’s book to remain on a reader’s shelf forever, because it’s unthinkable that they could part with it, unthinkable they wouldn’t read again or for the tenth time because it has impacted them so greatly. The shelves at my house have limited space, so I’ve had to donate many books over the years, but those ones that remain are ones I could never let go of. This is what I want to be a part of.

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’m 100% an editorial agent. I feel my own writing career—being in the query trenches, having critique partners, going through edits with my own editors—have only enhanced my ability to serve my clients in this way. All my clients have gone through an edit with me. Some have been quick, some longer. I feel like as their agent, it’s my job to take their manuscript as far as I can take it, so it’s polished and, hopefully, an editor can grab onto a vision of where they can take it next.

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 take queries via Query Manager (https://querymanager.com/query/KristenTerrette). And please fill in all the blanks. They are there for a reason. Sometimes I scroll right to the pitch (should be short and grabbing). If I like the pitch, I’ll go to the query letter, then proceed to the sample pages. If I like the sample pages, I’ll go to the bio and see if there are links to the author’s Twitter account or website, etc.

It’s a process for me, and if boxes aren’t filled out it makes me wonder if they’re serious writers or… lazy. I know (I’ve submitted many queries myself!) that it's annoying to fill in all the boxes, but they’re there for a reason. J

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

I’d say to be sure of your genre (and subgenres) and that your word count is within industry standards. This can be a quick red flag that your manuscript isn’t ready yet. I also will add heavy block text says you may not organize your thoughts well (this applies to the query and the first pages).

In the ten pages, don’t send me your Prologue. I’ll skip it and go right to the first line of the first chapter. That’s the most important one, and it better grab me.

Response Time:

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

Most of the time, I’m able to respond to queries within six weeks. If I’ve requested material, it’s been quite a bit longer. I’d love to say, three months, but in truth, it’s likely more like six months. I do ask that anyone who receives an offer of representation to inform me immediately and give me a deadline to respond. Their material will move to the top of my reading list.

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, especially those published with smaller presses. It is harder for self-published authors. Did they put a book on the market before it was ready? (Sadly, this is almost always the case.) Did it have low sales numbers?

If you have a dream of being traditionally published, my standard advice is not to self-publish. Just work hard at your craft and be patient. Publishing is a long and slow journey. It takes tenacity and tough skin, which means self-publishing can be seen as the easy way out.

However, if you are a fantastic writer and businessman, then go for it. Show me your amazing sales record and lots of five-star reviews. Then, this could become a selling point for you in getting a traditional publishing contract. 

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 don’t, only because editors count on us to vet and stand by the submissions we send their way. I think this buffer will always have a place in this field, and I’ve found many authors simply want to write. They love that they have someone committed to their success and not only routing for them but guiding them through the sales and contractual process which can be overwhelming.

I pray constantly for my clients and my ability to lead them to the right editors for their manuscripts. I also pray for the editors that will be opening my submissions. I think agents will always be a key component linking these two creatives.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

No one you’d likely know YET! But many coming. J I do keep my client page up-to-date on my website. https://kristenterrette.com/clients/

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.

I can’t think of any right now, but always pay attention to Publisher’s Marketplace for trends, news, and sales.

Links and Contact Info:

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

Query Me via Query Manager: https://querymanager.com/query/KristenTerrette

My website: www.kristenterrette.com

Agency website: www.martinlit.com

My #MSWL listing: https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/Kristen-Terrette/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KTerrette

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kterrette/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristen.terrette/

Additional Advice:

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

If you are pursuing a career in writing, view it as an on-going learning process with continuing education courses. Go to conferences, join writing groups, get critique partners, follow and interact with writers (published and unpublished), agents, editors, and imprints online via Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Make friends and connections everywhere.

I’ve learned everyone in this business is incredibly kind and generous, and a lot of us are book nerd, introverts at heart, so step out of your bubble and meet people. They will be happy to engage! These relationships will challenge you and your writing will show that you’ve invested in your craft. I see submissions all day, and it’s obvious who has done these things because they shine. J

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kristen.

­Kristen 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 April 1. If your email 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 follow me on Twitter or 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:

Liz A. said...

I imagine this would be a dream job. Getting to work with authors.

Anonymous said...

Such a great interview, being a literary agent sounds tough but incredibly fulfilling! Thanks for sharing!
-Andi Chitty Chittystone@gmail.com

Cindy Johnson said...

Thank you for sharing your advice! I love that you pray for your clients and editors.

Andrea Strahan said...

Thanks for a great interview, Natalie!
Andrea at ajstrahan@gmail.com

Becky said...

Great interview! I'd love the opportunity for a query critique!

suetwiggsbooks said...

Kristen,
I am looking for representation and I read your interview with interest. I will continue to research to see if we would be a good match. I would love a critique.

Sue

Sarah Steinbacher (she/they) said...

Thanks for the great interview. I'd love the opportunity for a query critique.

~New follower Sarah Steinbacher

Carol Baldwin said...

I posted on Twitter and 2 different FB pages and I follow your blog. I'd LOVE a query critique with Kristen. She's way on the top of my dream agent list!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Even if I was doing great self-publishing, an agent would still be worthwhile just to get input and guidance.

Melissa Miles said...

I signed with Kristen in January, and she's been a dream to work with. Her communication style and editorial, hands-on approach to polishing my manuscript moved her to the top of my list once I had an offer or representation.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's awesome that Kristen is your agent, Melissa. Congrats!

Jessica Haster said...

Shanah is a friend of mine and I can’t wait to see her books out in the world. She talks so highly of Kristin! Great interview!

Greg Pattridge said...

Thanks for all the insights into you becoming a respected and well liked agent. Sounds like you have a lot of great projects lined up. Best of luck as you continue to make writing dreams come true.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for interviewing Kristen! She’s on my list and I enjoyed learning more about her.
HauswirthWrites@gmail.com

Evie R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evie R. said...

Great interview! It is so fun to read about how different people got into this field. I would love to be considered for a query critique.

Anonymous said...

Great interview and I would love a critique!! I also plan on sending Kristena query. Thank you!

Nancy Garcia said...

She has an interesting range of age categories to represent. I am following on Twitter and would be interested in a query critique for a lower MG buddy adventure that riffs a little on fairy tale contexts!

Angie B. said...

Fantastic pool of authors she represents on her website. Hope there is room for more!

Nicole Dunlap said...

Awesome interview! I love that you pray for your authors and want them to succeed. That being said, I write Christian Romantic Suspense and my main character's faith grows tremendously throughout the story, so no weak female leads here ;)
Also appreciated your advice on adding social media links in the bio section of query manager. I really like the transition from email to the query form, so that was a valuable tip.

Emily said...

I'd love the chance! I queried her and look forward to her reply. debequette@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the interview!

Joe Samulak said...

I'd got a Middle Grade book that she might be interested in! :)

Lauri Fortino said...

So nice to meet you, Kristen! Best wishes for lots of future agenting success!

Bri Lawyer said...

Thank you for the great interview, and I do follow you on Twitter! Thanks for the opportunity for a query critique, Kristen! Brilawyer@gmail.com

Diane said...

I follow you on twitter.

I love the advice to get out of your bubble and meet people and to keep learning! So important!

Rosi Hollinbeck said...

Another wonderful, informative interview, Natalie. Thanks!

Judith L. Roth said...

Another great interview, Natalie. I already follow you on Twitter. Ktisten sounds like quite a catch as an agent....

Tonja Drecker said...

How exciting to get your dream job! (no critique please)

M said...

Thanks for giveaway!

Lauri Meyers said...

Such great advice, and I like that you sound focused on the long term career.

Elizabeth James said...

Love these interviews and I’d love the critique! I follow via email and your widget.

helloelizabethjames at gmail dot com

Cheryl Johnson said...

Great interview!

Valinora Troy said...

Great interview! Kristen sounds a wonderful agent!

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this interview with valuable insight from Kristen! I would love the chance for a critique. I followed via email, from sahni.writes@gmail.com.

lsat online prep course said...

To find a literary agent, writers usually begin by researching agents who specialize in their genre or area of interest. They can then submit a query letter, which is a brief pitch of their manuscript, to the agent. If the agent is interested, they will request to see a partial or full manuscript.

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Sarah Meade said...

Thanks for another great interview! I'm an email subscriber.