I have another interactive interview for you today with Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Ms. Laughran maintains a wonderfully informative blog, but I didn’t discover it until after I set up this interview, so the questions are the usual fare. As always, details on the interactive part are at the bottom. See you down there!
KV: How did you get into agenting?
JL: I started working at my older sister's bookstore at the age of twelve, and worked at bookstores all over the country for almost twenty years, ending up as a buyer for one of the largest indie bookstores on the west coast. In 2006 I started interning for an agent, and in 2007 I decided that I really wanted to specialize in children's and YA books, which have always been my personal favorites, so I joined the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, which has been a perfect fit for me.
KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
JL: Work hard, have fun, and make terrific books. I really don't think that the agent-client relationship should be as fraught with drama or mystery as some people feel it is. I am a very straightforward person and I value open communication with clients--and that goes both ways.
KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
JL: Gosh, I have a lot of stuff coming out this Fall. So I'll just pick a few:
DRAW THE DARK by Ilsa J. Bick--This is a very creepy horror novel about a kid who draws pictures...and the subjects of them have a tendency to die. Ilsa writes psychological thrillers--some are realistic, some are dystopian, some are paranormal...but they are all weird and complicated and fascinating.
MERMAID'S MIRROR by L.K. Madigan--I took L.K. on based on her first book, FLASH BURNOUT. That was the first book I ever sold, and if you have read it, you'll know that it is a realistic, funny but gritty "boy story." MERMAID is very different--the story of a surfer girl who finds a mermaid. But it is equally voice-driven and wonderful.
SUGAR AND ICE by Kate Messner--Kate just nails the middle school voice--probably because she is a 7th grade teacher. SUGAR is about a small-town ice skating girl who gets scouted by a charismatic Russian coach, plucked from obscurity and thrown into the uber-competitive world of "mean girls on ice." I tend to love "star is born" type stories, "outsider" stories, and funny realistic middle grade too. :-)
KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
JL: I rep novels for middle readers and young adults. I am not looking for picture book or nonfiction, and I do not represent books for grownups.
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
JL: About half the (many) queries I get are for things I don't represent, and/or they don't follow guidelines. These are just automatically deleted--what's the point? For queries that I actually look at though, I'd say, the point you want to get across is "what is this book about and why should I care?" Don't dance around the subject, just tell me what the book is about.
KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?
JL: I am looking for something that I haven't seen a zillion times before, that will make me want to stay up all night reading.
KV: What’s the best way to query you?
JL: Follow the submission guidelines found at andreabrownlit.com. In short:
*Put "query" somewhere in the subject line
*Paste the query and first ten pages in the body of the e-mail
Thanks again, Ms. Laughran, for these awesome answers. It’s a wonder people mess up those submission guidelines, since they’re pretty standard. All you queriers, take note!
Well, I’m sure everyone knows the drill: Leave your questions in the comments sometime before 5:00 p.m. PDT today, and Ms. Laughran will drop in a few times to answer them. Looking forward to your questions and Ms. Laughran’s responses.