Query.Sign.Submit. with Brent Taylor

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Brent represents Middle grade, Young Adult, Mystery/Crime, Women’s Fiction, and Literary Fiction that has a YA crossover appeal. 

He responds to all queries--usually within 24 hours, excluding the weekends.

 

To connect with and learn more about Brent . . .

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literary agent and author Now for Brent’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!

QUERY

Is there anything you see way too much of in the queries you receive?

Too much unnecessary detail. This is all I need: an introduction to your character, what they want, what or who is keeping them from getting it, and what’s going to happen if they don’t get it (aka the stakes). If your novel is too unique and you can’t answer those questions, you wrote a novel all wrong.

What is your process for reading a query and sample pages?

Most queries I read are very poorly written—and I’m not trying to be harsh, because most of the books I represent now even had bad queries. So I generally skim for word count, category, and genre, then jump immediately into the pages. If the pages impress me, then I’ll go back to the query and take a closer look.

What does it take for you to offer representation?

Story and writing that tugs on my heart.

What would you love to find in the slush pile?

Of course diverse narrative is on the top of everyone’s wishlists. Beyond that, I really want fresh writing and voice paired with familiar storylines and settings. Books that are unique enough to keep readers excited, but with big hooks that make them easily marketable.

I say this, but I’m also kind of notorious for falling in love with stories that straddle all sorts of lines.

SIGN

What is it like waiting to hear back from a writer you’ve offered representation?

Have you ever been water-boarded? Me neither, but this is the agony I like to equate the waiting to.

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

I’m definitely career-oriented. This is one of the reasons I only offer on books with writing that I love, because I’d like to believe my clients’ future projects will align as well with my tastes as their firsts did.

How editorial are you?

It really depends on the project. I have one that took roughly ten rounds of revisions, and then another I sent out to editors as-is. Those are both extremes on the spectrum, and what most often happens is a sweet middle.

SUBMIT

Do you forward editor feedback to writers?

I am all about assessing my clients’ needs and meeting them fully. I have clients that want no news until there’s good news, and then I have clients that want rejections as they come in. I’m fairly accommodating!

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?

Again, this is one of those instances I have to tap into my intuition and see what the client needs. Are they feeling down? I might send them a really positive, hopeful email.

Is it okay for a client to check in if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

Of course. Someone very smart once told me that all writers should be scared of their agents to a certain degree, and this is definitely where “a certain degree” comes in. Something as small as this doesn’t really strike me as out-of-line.

Once a writer has sold his/her first book, how is the next submission process different?

It depends on the terms your agent got for you and how pleased you are with your publisher. If your agent put the beat-down on contract negotiations, maybe the option language is super specific and you can take your book two on a really big round of submissions. Or, maybe you’re crazy in love with your current publisher and there’s no need to do that!

In short, the process is much less grueling. Usually. (Hopefully!)

Thanks for joining us, Brent!

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Posted March, 2015– Always check for current info and guidelines.

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