Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Kristin Miller

The prodigal interview series returns (and we came back with a good one)! Today’s INTERACTIVE interview features Kristin Miller of D4EO Literary Agency. Enjoy Ms. Miller’s answers to the usual questions, and then I’ll meet you at the bottom with details on the interactive part.

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

KM: I have been agenting since February, 2011. Nine months previous to my promotion to associate agent, Mandy Hubbard put out a call for interns. I responded pretty much immediately and we clicked right off the bat. She announced that she had found her intern the very next day. It was and is great working with and learning from Mandy and Bob (the chief at D4EO) as I build my own list.

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

KM: I want to help my clients build the most successful publishing career possible. What "successful" means can vary from writer to writer and it's my job to support and promote that success.

In an agent-author relationship, I expect the author and I to have an understanding regarding expectations and transparency, as well as open lines of communication. Beyond that, every relationship is different, depending on a variety of factors.

KV: What drew you to your clients and their projects?

KM: Great crafting is the first thing that draws me into a manuscript. Sometimes, this refers to line crafting, while other times it can be masterful pacing.

One thing that each of my clients has in common so far, however, is that I laughed out loud at some point while reading their work. I love a story with well-done wit. In other manuscripts I've requested, however, it might be a beautifully poetic style or intriguing and fresh plot or idea that makes me want to read more.

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

KM: I represent all children's literature, from picture book to young adult. I do not represent adult fiction or nonfiction of any kind at this point.

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

KM: Don't send me your adult fiction query.

Be sure, when you are pitching your book, that you pitch a plot rather than themes or ideas.

Remember to paste your first five to ten pages in the body of the query. I used to reply to writers who forgot to paste pages and ask them to resubmit, but I don't really have time for that anymore. Don't ruin your chances for a manuscript request by forgetting such a simple thing.

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

KM: First, what I'm tired of seeing: paranormal. It's never been my cup of tea, really, and the market is super tight right now. And paranormal pitched as sci-fi? Don't do it--I know an angel when I see one.

What I would love to see: a decadent Eastern European historical YA saga, out-of-the-box sci-fi, middle grade that nails the middle grade voice, a picture book author/illustrator with groundbreaking art. I request and enjoy a variety of novels outside those very specific ideas, however.

KV: You mentioned you were looking for a picture book author/illustrator with groundbreaking art, but are you interested in picture book writers who AREN'T illustrators?

KM: At this point, I'm looking for author/illustrators only.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

KM: Send your query with your first five to ten pages pasted in the body of the e-mail to Kristin@D4EO.com. When querying an illustrated project, provide a link to a website or online gallery of samples of your work. Please, no attachments.

Thanks, Ms. Miller, for these responses! I always like to hear what an agent’s looking for. (And if anyone has a decadent Eastern European historical YA saga, feel free to send it my way, too! I’m always up for beta-reading anything that falls under the category of Awesome:) )

And now for my favorite part! If you have a question for Ms. Miller, feel free to leave it in the comments below. She’ll drop in periodically throughout the day to answer anything she finds down there, leaving her answers in the comments, too. We’ll wrap things up at 6:00 p.m. EST (or 3:00 p.m. PST), so don’t dilly-dally!

17 comments:

Janice Sperry said...

Hi Kristin! Thanks for doing this. And Krista - you rock!)

I have two questions. How do you feel about urban fantasy/fractured fairy tales? Is your agency a no from one means no from all agency?

Holly L'Oiseau said...

Awesome interview!

Cassie Mae said...

Thanks so much for doing this!

I have a question :)

A lot of agencies will forward queries they think another agent will like, but isn't quite right for them. Is this something your agency will do? And if so, if an author gets a reject from one of you, should they assume it's a reject from all?

Thanks again!

Cassie Mae said...

Lol, I just realized this question was already asked. You won't need to reiterate for me :) I do have another question. Do you have an interest in upper middle grade/lower YA books? The mc is 14. :)

Thanks again! And again, lol.

Kristin@D4EO.com said...

Hi Janice! Fractured fairy tales can definitely intrigue me. I'm especially interested if they are able to unpack an underlying message already in the original fairy tale in a new, fresh way. We do pass along queries and manuscripts that catch our eye, but aren't quite right for us as individuals, so do try to choose the agent that you think would be the best fit for your work to query. A no from one is a no from all.

Hi Cassie! I love MG and YA both. The upper MG/lower YA range is a little tougher to place, so first make sure there aren't things you can do to make your manuscript more clearly MG or YA. Having said that, if the voice and motivations are spot-on for the age group, then query away.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,
Thanks for doing this. Do you respond to all queries, or just those that interest you? What is your typical response time?
Thanks again.

Juliana said...

Hi Ms. Miller,

You seek YA, but would you be interested in older YA, with 19-20 yo protagonists?

Thanks =)

Kristin@D4EO.com said...

Hello Anonymous! I respond to all queries. I try to respond within 2-3 weeks.

Hi Juliana! I prefer a well-defined YA that doesn't touch on the New Adult category. A 19-20 year old protag isn't a dealbreaker, so long as the common themes present in YA are present in the novel. Having said that, I would ask myself if the protag needed to be 19-20 or if the age could be lowered. College settings aren't right for my list at this time. Thanks for the question!

Krista V. said...

Hi, Kristin! Good to hear from you and everyone else!

Here's one more question from me: Your bio on D4EO's website mentions that you're looking for MG with a classic feel, something along the lines of THE PENDERWICKS. What are a few more of your favorite MG titles, and what do you love about them?

Nick said...

Hi Kristin! Thanks for answering our questions. My question is a lot like Krista's. What are some of your favorite PBs? I would also like to know what you love about them.

Anonymous said...

Another Anonymous here, thanking you for tweeting about the status of your query review. It's very helpful. I suspect some agents send form responses in batches that trigger a spam filter somewhere so the declines never arrive (I have my own domain name that's supposed to avoid that issue, but the emails my bank sends never make it through, either). One would hope that the agent would follow up if s/he doesn't hear on a requested full, but maybe the workload is such that there's just not time.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kristin! Thanks for answering our questions here today.

I am thinking of going to a writing conference that includes a part where authors pitch to various agents. I have a few random questions about the etiquette of this:
1. If I've queried the agent I'm pitching to and been rejected, should I mention it? Or should I avoid pitching to them again?
2. If I pitch to an agent at a conference and it appeared that they're not interested, should I not pitch to them with a regular query? Should I mention that we met at the conference?
3. (This one's more personal.) If I happen to be 7 months pregnant at this conference, should I be worried that people will not want to work with me since I'm about to be inundated with baby stuff? Or can I trust people not to question my professionalism?

I'm sorry if this is too many questions. I appreciate any answers you feel like giving! Thank you for this!

Kristin@D4EO.com said...

Hi Krista! A recent favorite MG is When You Reach Me. Not only is the line-level crafting fantastic, the subtle worldbuilding is perfect. It's a book you can read over and over again to discover something new. I'm excited to read Janne Teller's Nothing--I love a good haunting, existential novel. I also love a good, rollicking fantasy for MG, with a new twist, and friendship stories.

Hello Nick! With PBs, I tend to first be drawn in my the art. My subjective eye loves edgy art, pleasing colors palettes and clean lines, and a variety of materials. Stories should be character-driven. More commercial PBs I like are the Angelina Ballerina series, because Angelina is a very honest character and the stories don't dip into saccharine plotlines (though I'm a sucker for sweetness), and Charlie and Lola. I love Louise Yates' Dog Loves Books. Favorite classics are by Eric Carle, David Weisner, and Jan Brett. Books: Caps For Sale, The Tale of Ferdinand, and Guess How Much I Love You.

With both these questions, I'm sure I'm forgetting loads of favorite MG and PB and will be regretting it tomorrow. :)

Anon1: It's my pleasure to help writers know their work has been seen and considered, especially when there can be system glitches.

Anon2: Unless you've extensively overhauled your pitch, avoid pitching an agent the same material twice, even if it's in a different format/venue. I can't speak for everyone on question #3, but I can't imagine anyone would question your professionalism because you have chosen to grow your family! Since many authors do not make writing their primary career, we understand that "life" can demand a certain flexibility.

Thanks for the questions!

Cortney Pearson said...

Thanks for doing this! My question is, I keep hearing that contemporary YA is hard to sell right now. What are your thoughts on that? :)

Kristin@D4EO.com said...

Hello Cortney! I think the idea that contemporary is hard to sell simplifies the issue. After all, many contemporaries sell each year across publishing. However, contemporary is hard/impossible to get a six-figure trilogy for. Contemporary can be tough if it's quiet. Many readers, including me, love contemporary and want to see it on the shelves. I'm sure you've heard about contemporary needing a "hook" to be marketable, and that's pretty accurate. Can you sum up your plot in one, intriguing sentence? Does your voice, does your crafting elevate the project? What will compel the reader to pick up your book? Those are just a few things to ask honestly about your project to determine if it's a contemporary that has a good chance of selling.

Tanya Reimer said...

Thanks I love getting inside the minds of agents!

Krista V. said...

A huge thank-you to Kristin for spending the day with us and answering our questions, and another thank-you to all of you for giving her questions to answer!