Archive | September 2013

Interview with literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House.

I’d like welcome literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House to the blog today. Also, she’s agreed to try to answer a few reader questions, so if you have any, be sure to post them in the comments section!

Thank you so much for being here today, Beth!

Me: How did you become an agent?

Beth: After completing a Master’s degree in literature, I began looking for jobs in publishing. I interviewed for the position of assistant to a senior agent here at Writers House, and got the job. I’ve been here for six-and-a-half years, and am now a Junior Agent, working with my boss as well as building my own list.

Me: What are three things that elicit automatic rejections from you when reading the first 50 pages of a manuscript?

Beth: Writing quality: an author can have a great pitch for their manuscript, but then the writing doesn’t hold up. Pacing: at the end of those 50 pages, I should be dying to know what happens next, not relieved to be done with the partial! Characters I can’t relate to: your main character should be someone I can connect with. If I can’t stand the character, I’m not going to keep reading.

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?

Beth: Well, since the last time I did an interview, I said I loved YA, now I’m inundated with YA submissions. So I’ll just say that I enjoy reading YA (contemporary romance, fantasy, and historical—let’s shy away from dystopian and paranormal for now!), new adult, romance, women’s fiction, and fantasy, and would welcome submissions in those genres.

Me: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?

Beth: I found my way to publishing in a circuitous way. I started out as a marine biology major (I wanted to hug a whale!), ultimately earning a B.S. in Biology (during which time I interned at the NY Aquarium–I didn’t get to hug a whale, but I did get to feed the belugas and rub their tongues occasionally), and then worked in a genomics research lab for 7 years (where I didn’t hug the E. coli) before getting an M.A. in Literature and coming to work at Writers House. So I have a science brain as well as a literature brain. And maybe I’ll still get to hug a whale one day.

Me: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?

Beth: Do your homework. There’s so much information out there now on how to write a query letter and how not to write a query letter. Research the agents that rep your genre—it’s a waste of everyone’s time for you to query a fiction agent with a cookbook. And most importantly, treat the query process in a manner that befits the amount of time you spent on your manuscript. Be courteous and professional. Don’t be “cute” or arrogant in your letter; don’t go on for pages in your query.

And NEVER, EVER, send an obnoxious reply to a rejection. You’d think that would be common sense, as most people don’t want to burn bridges (and are normal human beings), but you’d be surprised.

Me: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?

Beth: Email your query to bmiller@writershouse.com. You should include a brief (1-paragraph) description of the book, a brief bio (1-paragraph), and the usual word count, genre, tag line if you have one, etc. You may paste in the first 10 pages, but please don’t attach anything.

Advertisements

Q & A with literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House

Get ready, everybody! Literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House will be on the blog tomorrow. She’s going to try to answer a few reader questions throughout the day, so if you have a question for her, be sure to post it after the interview goes live with her tomorrow morning at 6 am CST.

See you all tomorrow!

Interview with literary agent Sarah Negovetich

I’d like to welcome Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency to the blog today.

profile pic

Thank you so much, Sarah, for being here!

Me: How did you become an agent?

Sarah: After years of working in marketing, I found myself in a new (very small) city with no marketing jobs and an opportunity to follow a path I’d always wanted to try, but never did. I started out as a PR intern with Marisa, eventually signed on as an apprentice, and now I’m a Jr. Agent.

That makes it sound so simple, but the reality is that I worked really hard to learn as much as I could and prove myself as a capable person. The life of an intern isn’t glamorous, but it’s an essential part of the process I’m glad I had the opportunity to pursue.

Me: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?

Sarah: Every path is going to look different, but the constant is collaboration. First, it’s collaborating to get the signed manuscript polished, pitched and sold. After that (and actually during the process), it’s collaborating on future projects, marketing and all the other ups and downs that happen with the publishing process. Working with an agent means that no matter what your publication path looks like, you never have to do it alone.

Wow, that sounds like a cheesy Hallmark card. But it’s the truth.

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?

Sarah: I only accept MG and YA, so all of this needs to fall into those two age groups. I love science fiction. I’m starting to get more of it, but would love to see even more. I’d also love to see high fantasy, but it needs to be fresh. The commoner who discovers they’re special and must follow a quest to save the world is not fresh.

On the too much side, I’m seeing way too many portal stories, especially in MG. In YA, I’m still getting a lot of dystopian. As much as I love a great dystopian, editors aren’t buying any more of this for the foreseeable future so it’s not something I can take on.

Me: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?

Sarah: That’s a hard one. I tend to think of myself as an open book. I guess that might be surprising to some. Most people in the literary field are introverts, especially writers. On the MBTI test, I score 100% extroverted. I’ve probably taken the test 3 or 4 times and I’ve never scored a single point in the introverted scale. I REALLY like people.

Me: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?

Sarah: I can’t overstress the importance of a strong editing process that includes down time, peer feedback and way more than just a spell check. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a really great query for what could be an amazing story, only to be disappointed with poorly edited opening pages.

Me: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?

Sarah: I am open to submissions. Writers should send their query, 1-2 page synopsis, and first 5 pages to Query@CorvisieroAgency.com. “Query for Sarah” should be in the subject line. Visit www.corvisieroagency.com for all of our submission guidelines. I provide updates on my query box status on my blog www.sarahnego.blogspot.com. You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr.

Sarah’s bio:

Sarah Negovetich is fully aware that no one knows how to pronounce her last name, and she’s okay with that.

Her favorite writing is YA, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty, it’s accurate if not exactly motivational.

Sarah’s background is in Marketing. FYI, your high school algebra teacher was right when they told you every job uses math. She uses her experience to assist Corvisiero authors with platform building and book promotion.