Agent Monday: Which Agent?

MP900321197Hi everyone!  Happy summery Agent Monday to you all. One of the biggest challenges of submitting to agents is figuring out which are the right ones to contact.  So for those of you looking to submit to The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, I thought I’d  offer a few insights about two of us to help you out.  Thanks so much to wonder-agent Stephen Fraser for popping by!

First a few caveats. One: never submit to more than one agent at our firm (or at any one firm) at the same time. It’s unprofessional and you don’t want to put two agents in the same firm in the odd position of both offering representation at the same time. Two: always address your submission to the agent.  We often get generic mass-emailed queries addressed to no one (not cool). Every once in a while we get submissions addressed to every agent in our firm at once, or to every agent that exists in every firm (not kidding). Bad. Don’t ever do that.

Now a few notes about how our agency operates.  We are a wonderful collaborative bunch, and we’re all overseen by the wisdom and experience of our founder, the talented Jennifer De Chiara. It’s not unusual for the agents to consult each other and share info about the market or editors or certain situations that pop up. In that way, each agent here shares from a wide pool of experience that benefits all of the authors we represent. We also share our exciting developments with each other. And if we get a query that isn’t right for us, but perfect for another agent in our firm we will pass it along to them. What I’m trying to say is that this is a very positive agency and we make a great team.

So who should you submit to? First do some research. Go to jdlit.com and click on The Agency and Who We Are, then click on Submissions for specific guidelines for each agent. And here are a few more details that might help:

Stephen FraserStephen Fraser

1. What are you most looking for in your query in box right now?
I am always looking for solid, unusual middle grade fiction. And then, of course, anything that is dazzling. I do love poetry, dramatic stories, fascinating nonfiction. For me, it is always about beautiful language.

2. What special interests, hobbies, background distinguish you and your point of view as an agent?
Because I used to be an editor, people know that I have an editorial bent. And so they can expect my input on their manuscripts as well as career guidance. Also, my background in theater and music definitely colors my interest in some topics.

3. What are you seeing too much of in your query in box right now?
There are too many ‘typical’ picture books, e.g. monsters under the bed. The tendency to always teach young readers persists; story is what everyone needs. Still too many paranormal young adult novels.

4. What one thing would you most like writers querying you to know?
To persist in following up if they don’t get a response right away. I answer everyone and sometimes it just takes time. A polite nudge is always fine.

 

MarieMarie Lamba
1. What are you most looking for in your query in box right now?
Something unforgettable that’ll make me laugh, tug at my emotions, haunt me long after I finish it. I want something different from what’s already out there. I love projects which are fun but also have depth, so something that is breezy but without beautiful language or heart is not right for me. I’d love to get women’s fiction that isn’t cliché and that moves me. I’d love a memoir with an unforgettable voice. I’d love a contemporary YA that isn’t overloaded with problems, but that stands out for its voice and its heart-rending truths.

2. What special interests, hobbies, background distinguish you and your point of view as an agent?
I have a fine art background, so I love visual writing, and stories involving artists or the art world. I fenced through college. I love ancient graveyards, ghost stories that are not touched with gore (I hate bloody stories or true crime), mythology. I’m a huge world traveler. My kids are biracial and my husband is from India. I adore smart books and films that make me laugh or move me in unexpected ways. I love smart chick-lit and am a romantic at heart, but I do NOT enjoy genre romance at all. So books that tug at my heart but are in no way formulaic or predictable are more for me. I’m an author myself, and have written a number of young adult novels, tons of magazine articles, and other stuff. I’ve also worked as an editor, a public relations writer, and a book publicist, so I approach each project from many angles.

3. What are you seeing too much of in your query in box right now?
Paranormal novels. Someone thinks their life is okay, but then they discover they have a special power or curse and are at the center of a huge mysterious conflict. No more of these, please.

Light fluffy romances. Whether YA, NA or adult, these are just not right for me. I want more depth than the hot angsty guy with green eyes and the heroine who is attracted to him despite her better judgement.

Sad story memoirs without an added dimension. People who have gone through difficult things in life, but who don’t bring anything further to the experience beyond reporting what happened to them. My heart breaks for these writers, but I’m looking for a special voice or unique point of view that will touch readers beyond the “this is what happened to me” part.

YA’s overloaded with problems. While one or two serious issues are more than enough for a lovely YA contemporary, I’m seeing YAs with up to a dozen serious problems facing down the hero. And every character in the story has tons of huge issues.

4. What one thing would you most like writers querying you to know?
I’m looking for writing that is as good or better than what my current clients produce (and they are amazing). I’m looking for manuscripts that make me think, “Jeez, I wish I could write like that.” I want manuscripts that won’t just sell, but that’ll make a difference to readers, which is why genre writing or anything that is too similar to what’s already out there is not right for me.

*Note: There is now a Part 2 in this series (click here), which features agents Roseanne Wells and Linda Epstein. And a Part 3 (click here) that features founding agent Jennifer De Chiara.

 

*Marie is an Associate Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City.  To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.

 

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8 thoughts on “Agent Monday: Which Agent?

  1. Hi Marie:

    I do get your emails routinely on Mondays. I did send a query letter to you once. I wondered, when I read your interests and your fine art background, why you did not seem receptive. My novel is all about art and artists. While I don’t want the piece to sound like an art history lecture, I have tried to weave it into the plot in an interesting way. The heroine is an artist, struggling to make it in New York. I included a poem about Tapies in the beginning. I know this isn’t a typical query letter, but I hope you will read this.

    “. One year they went to the Guggenheim in SoHo to see the work of Spanish artist, Antonio Tapies, known for his minimalist, textural paintings. He was a big influence in Ren’s painting. It prompted a prose poem about the experience of seeing his show:

    Trains hissed into Penn, unloading their black-suited cargo, carrying leather and wearing

    Italian, walking by in a hurry, scurrying mice through revolving doors. I watched them as I stood

    in line waiting for a taxi. The cabbie from Jamaica sang his lament to ears that did not hear,

    I was so full of the city that day. At the gallery, I walked into a seamless

    white backdrop, seduced by textured canvases that led me into the artist’s private world

    of crosses, rips and tears. I entered the canvas, where Antonio said, *Come in, have some sangria.*

    I wanted to ask how he got so much sadness In his minimal vastness, but I declined. Instead, I sipped

    the fruity liquid, bade him farewell and melted back into the canvas.

    As my body entered the other side, the dark-suited guard shouted, *You’re not supposed to enter the *

    *other world. It’s okay, *I said.* Tapies invited me in for a drink.”*

    *Thank you,*

    *Carole*

    *www.caroleguthrie.com *

    • Hi Carole,

      I appreciate your confusion! But writing isn’t that scientific. Even if you find an agent that intersects with your interests, there’s no guarantee that the agent will snatch you up as a client. When I read a query and sample pages submitted the proper way, I’m looking for many things at once. (I’m sure you understand that I can’t receive or respond to queries in this public forum. As you’ve noted, I’ve already read and responded to this one when you queried me.)

      What I can tell you is that if I’ve passed, it means that I’m not the right agent for this work.

      I wish you much success in finding the right match.
      🙂
      Marie

  2. Pingback: Agent Monday: Which Agent? Part 2! | Marie Lamba, author

  3. Pingback: Agent Monday: Which Agent? Part 3 | Marie Lamba, author

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