Query. Sign. Submit. with Sarah LaPolla

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Sarah represents YA and Adult fiction. Please see her bio on the Bradford Literary website for specific genres and interests.

Sarah responds to all queries. (See details in answer below.)





To connect with and learn more about Sarah . . .

Bradford Literary Agency
Glass Cases Blog
Twitter

QSS banner black Now for Sarah’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!

QUERY

Do you always read a query all the way through? If not, what would make you stop reading?

I do if it’s in a genre I represent. There are times when all I need to read is “In my erotica novel...” or “I have written a children’s picture book.” Same with any sort of nonfiction or poetry. I don’t represent every genre and what I do represent is clearly stated online. If an author isn’t sure, then I always encourage them to take a shot. For example, if their book is within a subgenre of something I represent (i.e. space opera as a sub-genre of science fiction), then they should still query. But if it’s obvious I don’t represent a genre like romance, they should know not to send me a romance novel.

How do you tackle your inbox? Do you go in order or jump around?

Emails from clients and editors come first. Then, when I go into my query folder, I arrange them by date and read the oldest ones first. I read everything in the order it arrives and respond to everything with at least a form rejection. The only queries I don’t respond to at all are when more than one agent is copied on the email or they are not addressed to me.

Is it okay for a writer to nudge concerning queries or partial/full requests?

When I request material, I give a time frame for when I’ll respond. My response time on queries is rarely over two weeks. It’s usually less than one. So, I get annoyed when people follow up on queries. My response time is not that long! If other agents don’t give specific response times, I’d advise against following up before three months. We read a lot and queries are not our first priority. Our clients are.

Do you ever offer a Revise & Resubmit? When would you do so?

I offer R&Rs quite often, actually. I’m a big revision person and I will rarely sign a new client without first asking for an R&R. Revision is a different skill than writing, but it’s just as important. I need to know if a writer is able to take notes, know how to apply them effectively to their manuscript, and be able to work collaboratively with their future editor (because my revision notes are nothing compared to the specifics an editor will get into). If they can’t revise, it will be a very short working relationship.

SIGN

Do you sign a client as a career agent or on a book-by-book basis?

I sign a writer in hopes that relationship will last their whole career. I look beyond that one sale we can make and think about how to shape their career as an author.

Should a writer share previous contact with editors with you? For example, from conferences or workshops.

Of course! Any connection is worth exploring. No agented author should submit work to an editor without first discussing it with their agent. But meeting people and making personal connections with editors can be valuable for writers the same way it’s valuable for agents.

SUBMIT

Can a client make suggestions or share a wish list when it comes to editors/imprints to submit to?

If they have a personal connection to an editor, then I’d love to hear about it. I make no guarantees I’ll definitely submit to that person though. It would always depend on who it is. For the most part, no, I do not want a client who tells me how to do my job. My submission lists are based on editors I not only have a personal relationship with, but who I know will be the right fit, professionally, for each client’s book. This can be based on who the editor is or where they work or both. Clients may really like a certain book an editor worked on, or they may follow a really funny editor on Twitter, but that does not mean they have the same knowledge of the industry or submission strategy an agent has.

At what point might you suggest making more revisions?

I like to see how many editors had the same response to a submission before suggesting a revision. If I send a book to ten editors and I receive ten different reasons why it was rejected, there’s really not a whole lot to go on. Like with agents responding to queries, editors’ tastes are subjective too. Sometimes a revision suggestion will resonate more with me or the author, so we may focus on that one editor’s notes. But, if I receive ten rejections and eight of them give me the same reason, then it’s clear that there is an issue with the manuscript worth revisiting.

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

Do anything else! Working on your next novel is always a good idea. But really, just do anything to take your mind off of submission. It’s in your agent’s hands now. A writer will only drive themselves crazy if they spend their energy worrying about response times and whether an editor has read their book yet.

How much contact do you have with a client when he/she is out on submission? Do you send weekly updates or update as responses come in?

It always depends on the author. I don’t do weekly updates, because I think a lot of those updates would say “still no news.” I tell my clients up front that I’ll send responses as they come in, so they know they won’t hear from me unless there’s news. I follow up with editors periodically. If it reaches a point where months go by, then I do check in with the author just to let them know what’s going on.

A big thank you to Sarah for joining us!

Want more?

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Posted July, 2013 – Always check for current info and guidelines.

3 comments:

  1. This was very helpful for me to read-thank you for posting this interview!

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  2. I saw your recent post at Verla's, which reminded me to say THANK YOU for this excellent series!

    -- Sarah (ButterflyGirl)

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  3. Thanks, ladies! I'm glad you're enjoying the series. I am too. :)

    ReplyDelete