Today, we have an interview with Jennifer Flannery, literary agent and pitch judge for WriteOnCon’s Pitch-Fest! WriteOnCon will be open to submissions March 10th. To find out more, please visit their website. To find out what Jennifer will be looking for, read our interview!
Welcome, Jennifer! And thanks for being here!
Me: How did you become an agent?
Jennifer: I’d been an English and Journalism major in college, and was collecting internships after I graduated. I was not at all sure what I wanted to do. I was offered an internship at a literary agency and was hired as a receptionist/office scut puppy the next day. Looking back and although I didn’t think it at the time, I can see now that it was a genuinely amazing experience; I couldn’t have asked for a better baptism by fire to the ins and outs of publishing and agenting. Then, because I’m Super Smart, I took a demotion and a paycut to move to New York and work as an editorial assistant in a publishing house. Then, because I’m Super Lucky, I was offered the chance to start my own agency. I did, hoping to last six months. I still feel that way, but it’s been 41 six month chunks of time since that moment and I try not to plan/worry/obsess much further ahead than that.
Me: What will you be looking for when you read pitches for WriteOnCon’s Pitch-Fest?
Jennifer: Someone who puts words together in a way that makes me keep reading. I’m always looking for that voice and style that touch me, rather than storyline or genre. If you can tell a story, I’m happy. For instance, I know NOTHING about evolution or science, but I think Stephen Jay Gould is one of the finest writers ever and he always makes it worth my while to read what he wrote.
Me: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?
Jennifer: I’m looking for that elusive voice. I’ll read anything if the storytelling captures my heart. I am, I will admit, tired of post-apocalyptic survival stories or love stories between innocents and other-worldly creatures.
Me: What are three things that elicit automatic rejections from you when reading the first 50 pages of a manuscript?
Jennifer: A cliche, a misspelled word, or a verb that’s been misused (a face cannot squirm, and ‘she veered them into the room’ should be ‘she steered them into the room’ or ‘she veered into the room’).
Me: What is the best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?
Jennifer: Don’t follow what’s already been done or what is currently popular. I lived through the Goosebumps, Harry Potter, the Twilight Series, and Hunger Games and have read enough derivatives of pre-existing stories as I ever want to in my whole entire life.
Me: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?
Jennifer: Yes! I can’t take much on at the moment but I am always looking. I like snail mail queries with SASEs to 1140 Wickfield Court, Naperville, IL60563 or emails queries to Jennifer@FlanneryLiterary.com