Saturday, March 19, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Bernadette Baker-Baughman

This special weekend edition of “Interactive Interview with an Agent” features Bernadette Baker-Baughman of Victoria Sanders & Associates. Details on the interactive part are at the bottom. Enjoy Ms. Baker-Baughman’s answers to the normal questions, and then I’ll meet you down there!

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

BB: I started agenting in 2005. I finished my master’s degree and was the Marketing Manager for a publisher, when the right opportunity to move over to agenting presented itself.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

BB: My personal philosophy is that publishing is a business of patience and longevity. If you have both, you will go a long way. I want my relationships with my authors to be mutually beneficial, trusting, and always passion filled.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

BB: STEALING MONA LISA by Carson Morton and ZAHRA’S PARADISE by Amir and Khalil are both coming out this fall.

STEALING MONA LISA is a fun piece of historical fiction that I was drawn to because it had everything I love in a good story: mystery, love, betrayal, danger, and comedy. I also found the true facts, like the actual theft of the Mona Lisa, to be infinitely intriguing. (St. Martin’s Minotaur, August 2011)

ZAHRA’S PARASIDE is a serious graphic novel about a young protestor who went missing after the botched Iranian election in 2009, and his family’s struggle to find him. It is poignant, beautifully illustrated, and delivers a timely human rights message. (First Second, August 2011)

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

BB: I’ll answer more on the “not represent” side, as that is a bit easier to pin down. I don’t represent Westerns, High Fantasy, Poetry, traditional Romance, or children’s picture books (except when I do).

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

BB: I really like concise, to the point queries, along with two to three chapters of the work pasted into the body of an e-mail. My pet peeve is when an author sends a query as an attachment with nothing in the body of the e-mail. I always suggest authors try to make it as easy as possible for agents.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

BB: Right now I am looking for very emotionally driven work. Make me laugh out loud or cry and I’m sold. I am a bit tired of seeing paranormal, though now I can really easily spot good paranormal when it crosses my desk.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

BB: Send a query to my attention at queriesvsa@hotmail.com. The query should be in the body of the e-mail, along with two to three chapters pasted below the query. We respond to every query that comes in, so if you don’t hear from me please resend your query. Also, learn more about Victoria Sanders & Associates on our website: victoriasanders.com.

Thanks again, Ms. Baker-Baughman, for these responses! I always love a little mystery, love, betrayal, danger, and comedy as well, so STEALING MONA LISA sounds like a fun read.

Now for the exciting part. If you have a question for Ms. Baker-Baughman, feel free to leave it in the comments section below. She’ll drop in a few times today and leave her answers down there for you. We’ll wrap everything up at 3:00 p.m. EDT (which is 12:00 noon PDT). Until then, ask away!

(P.S. I’m going to a wedding, so I won’t be around very much today. I’d just ask that you respect the cutoff time and not leave questions after that.)

29 comments:

Jennifer Pickrell said...

Thanks for posting another great interview, Krista!

My question (questions, really) for Ms. Baker-Baughman is: I see on your website you rep both adult and YA. How do you feel about YA with crossover appeal? And do you rep women's fiction?

elizabethreinhardt said...

Thank you for the post!

You mentioned that you're getting tired of seeing so many paranormals. Is there a type of book/subject that you're keeping your fingers crossed to see on your desk?

Thanks again!

B3 said...

@Jennifer Thanks for the question. I think many books qualify as crossover, but it is important to identify your primary audience (thus your genre) for marketing purposes. Can you ultimately market to more than one audience? Sure! But you will get the most value out of latching into an established market. Does this answer your question?

B3 said...

@ Elizabeth Reinhardt I am really interested in finding a strong series. I don't have any preference to genre. I just want to find a world that I can get really excited about visiting frequently.

B3 said...

@Elizabeth Reinhardt and thanks for the question!

Angela said...

Thanks for another awesome interview, Krista!

Hi, Bernadette. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. What would you say are the most common reasons you reject a manuscript?

Jenilyn Tolley said...

Thanks for the interview!

You mentioned that you don't like high fantasy. What are your feelings about science fiction?

B3 said...

@Angela thanks for the question. The most common reason I reject a manuscript it that the writing doesn't resonate with me. This is a highly subjective business. And there is no way to predict what will work or what will take when the book makes it out into the world. So I really have to fall madly in love with a book in order to represent it. Falling in love with a book also makes me the biggest champion of the book, and helps me to get editors excited about the work.

B3 said...

@jenilyn thanks for the question. I heart sci-fi. I am not the most well-read person of the genre, but if a great piece landed on my desk I would feel confidant about placing it.

Krista V. said...

Wow, so many great questions already, everyone! And Bernadette, your answers are so helpful. (I, for one, am very excited to hear you're interested in sci-fi:) )

Here's one last question from me: Do you respond to all queries? If so, would you be okay with a writer re-querying if she doesn't hear back from you?

B3 said...

@Krista thanks so much for having me. I reply to all queries sent to me at queriesvsa@hotmail.com. If someone queried and didn't get a response it means that the query didn't make it to me. We check the spam filter but I guarantee some slip through. Not only is it ok, but I encourage writers to re-query me if they never received a response from me. (Full disclosure: other agents may feel differently. I speak only for myself)

Suzanne said...

Thanks so much for giving up weekend time for this interview!

Along the lines of emotionally-driven or women's fiction, who are some of your favorite authors to read in your spare time (assuming you have the luxury)?

Thanks to Krista, as always!

B3 said...

Well, two of my all time favorite books are THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD and THE TIME TRAVELERS WIFE. Since joining VSA -I've fallen for Sarah Pekkanen and Amy Hatvany. I like books that feel real. And I want the characters to feel more like close friends than like popular people. One of the books I am shopping around right now comes to a dark and heart-wrenching crescendo. No matter how often I read it I cry. That, to me, is success.

LTM said...

Aweseome interview as always, Krista! Thanks, Ms. B3 for answering questions for us!

My question: I write strictly YA, but I've got MSs that fall into different subgenres. My first was a YA family-saga/mystery (series), second was a YA rom-com, third was a YA historical romance, and my WIP is a YA light sci-fi.

My writing style is distinctive, and they're all YA, but is it "bad" that I've been playing around with the sub-genres?

Thanks again! I'll shoot you a query for #2 (it's the most shiny).

Monica B.W. said...

Thanks again for the awesome interview, Krista! I'll send my querying friends this way :)

B3 said...

@monica thanks for popping in!
@LTM I donKt think it is a bad thing for you to be playing with sub-genres at all. I think, actually, that it is a great practice that will push and develop you as a writer. Once you start publishing it gets a little bit more complicated becaus if you are successful in one genre your publisher will want you to continue writing in that genre. I could think of worse problems to have!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Thank you for this opportunity to ask questions. You mentioned your favorites in women's fiction. What are your favorites in the YA genre?


Amy

Stephanie@thecrackedslipper said...

Thanks for the interview Krista, and thanks to Bernadette for giving us the opportunity to ask questions!

B3-- you're interested in books with a "wide audience entry point". Can you tell us a little more about what makes a retelling/re-imagining stand out for you?

Thanks for the info about re-querying, btw. It's so helpful to know these little submission tidbits!

B3 said...

@A.L. Sonnichsen oh where to begin...can you be a bit more specific?

B3 said...

@Stephanie@thecrackedslipper thanks for the great question. For me, a good re-imagining or retelling takes material that the reader THINKS they know, and gives the reader a whole new experience and insight. It is at one time familiar, and yet entirely new.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Oh, sorry! I'm most curious about your taste in contemporary, character-driven YA. Is that specific enough?

Thanks again!
Amy

B3 said...

Thanks Amy! I really enjoyed 13 REASONS WHY and SPEAK. Generally speaking, though, I gravitate more towards plot driven fiction over character driven fiction (very generally speaking)

leona said...

Thank you for this great opportunity, Krista and Bernadette!

What are some of your thoughts on MG material? What types of stories appeal to you?

Again, thanks so much for your time!

B3 said...

@Leona thanks for the question. I'm not doing so much middlegrade fiction right now. But quirky and fun fiction would appeal to me most. And I love MG graphic novels.

B3 said...

Hey everyone. Thanks again for having me and for all of your questions. It's been a blast. Now, back to writing!
Signing off,
~Bernadette

Krista V. said...

And that's a wrap! (Like, nine hours ago...) Thanks, everyone, for participating, and thank you, Bernadette for spending a Saturday with us.

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed reading through the questions and answers. I'm sorry Bernadette doesn't represent high fantasy, but she sounds like a great agent.

I want to read STEALING MONA LISA.

Richard Thomas said...

Great job ladies. Thanks BBB for the insight. You've always been generous with your time and supportive of my work. Best of luck everyone.

Krista V. said...

Myrna, I want to read STEALING MONA LISA, too! Hopefully, LVCCLD will order more than one copy so we don't have to fight over it:)

Richard, thanks for stopping by. Are you a client of Bernadette's? If so, you're one lucky fellow!