Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary is one of the nicest agents out there. She graciously agreed to answer a few questions for my blog.
What are common mistakes writers make in the queries you receive? (Warn us, please!)
I think the most common mistakes are the simple things. Make sure your query matches the recipient, for example. We joke that my name is not Mr. Wolf, Mr. Wolfe or Terry. Take the time to know who you’re sending your work to and that the person who’ll be contacted actually takes that type/genre of work. The other thing I see centers on the provision of too much or too little information about your work. A simple suggestion is to try to build three sentences about a work which represents the beginning, middle and end – that’s enough.
How can writers make their queries stand out?
I like it when points are presented in a clear and professional manner. If there are typos in the query, there will probably be problems within a manuscript. We offer guidelines on our website.
Are you more likely to take on a client after meeting them through social media or at a conference? Or does each query get weighed on content alone?
I have signed authors who were originally introduced to me at conference or via social media, but it was the integrity of their work that caught my eye. I will forewarn you, I’ve also made the decision to refrain from the offer of representation due to the behavior exhibited at conferences and within the realm of social media.
Which genres would you like to receive now?
I have an eclectic list. Remember, long before I was an agent, I was an editor and a member of the international media. Thus, I tend to go for story over genre. I’d like to find believable YA, redemptive and intelligent MG and picture/board books that end up being the “it” book for little ones. I like humorous (not gross), engaging (not mean), adventurous fiction for all age levels and beautifully depicted – and illustrated – picture books and highly expressive and entertaining nonfiction.
On a lesser, but still important note, I’m in search of Women’s Fiction. Overall, it’s about finding something I know I can’t live without, something I have to share with the world.
Which genres have jumped the shark?
I don’t know if any genres have jumped the shark so much as the industry as a whole may have nearly fallen into the proverbial pond. I spend a good amount of time learning about the reading practices of a given audience. A while back I discovered that the average young person (aged 14 – 18) spends something like 56 hours a week on “other forms” of “readable material”. Translation: cell phones, computers, social media and gaming. These young people aren’t, unfortunately, spending time with books, including eBooks. For someone like me who wants to provide the next great read, the stats are a little shocking. Fortunately, the industry has responded with offerings that have been of interest to young people, through formats that are more enticing. I think publishers are quite interested in finding and developing works that will meet and challenge audience interests. To me, “jumping the shark” takes place as a last ditch effort. I have yet to witness that mentality.
How have factors like: eBooks, self-publishing, and Borders closing changed the business for you?
I don’t recall a time when there were so many options for authors to achieve publication. I was thrilled to serve as a board member for Colorado Independent Publishers Association because I learned about the many possible paths people had available to them to reach the ultimate goal of being published. These models provide the opportunity to question our methods and seek excellence.
Life is about options, and the world of publishing is no different.
Do these factors influence the clients or projects you take?
I’m open to all options. My main concern is the viability of a given work and its ability to convey an intended message.
What publishing trends (if any) do you see coming?
Two things I never place bets on; horses and publishing trends. I may be swayed, however, by the promise of good chocolate. Honestly, I think editors are very receptive right now. The industry is excited to work with newer, well-presented and well-represented authors who have written excellent work. And, for the first time in a long time, I feel a genuine hope. It that a trend? I’d like to think so! From a business perspective, I think consolidation will continue and the use of web-based apps (vs. device-based) will take precedence. I’m personally coordinating more with international contacts. To the savvy writer this means that the written word needs to be engaging for a larger market from a global perspective.
Thank you for the interview, Terrie.
Want to hear more from Terrie Wolf? Find her on Twitter
I recommend the AKA Literary Page on Facebook
It’s full of positive posts.
And here’s some information about Terrie Wolf on Literary Rambles