Note from Chuck: This interview took
place when Gary was with FinePrint
Literary Management. He is now with
“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Gary Heidt of Signature Literary) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.
This installment is with agent Gary Heidt of Signature Literary (formerly of FinePrint Literary Management). Gary was a John Jay Scholar at Columbia University and General Manager at WKCR-FM. Upon graduating, he returned to the nightclubs as a gigging musician. He is a published poet and columnist. His librettos for composer Evan Hause’s Defenestration Trilogy earned praise, and his musical comedies (he has written several in collaboration with Gary Miles, including The Feng Shui Assassin and American Eyeball) were described by The Onion as “strangely funny.” Originally from Texas, he has lived in New York City for a decade and a half.
He is seeking: Gary Heidt represents both fiction and nonfiction. He seeks History, science, current events, pop culture, military history, memoir, politics, cultural criticism and Fortean/High Strangeness/paranormal or deep politics. In fiction, he seeks literary fiction. He also likes techno-thrillers, hard-boiled crime, graphic novels and young adult novels with a bit of an edge to them. No science fiction, fantasy, cozies, romance, or historical fiction please.
GLA: What are some recent things you’ve sold?
GH: 100 Girls, by Adam Gallardo and Todd Demong, a graphic novel about a girl (actually, 100 Girls) who is/are the product of a government experiment intended to create a superweapon. Another is Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries, by Stephen Klimczuk and Gerald Warner. Two Knights of Malta - one a globalist businessman, the other a Scottish Lord - explain some of the world’s greatest mysteries.
GLA: You represent both “history” and “military nonfiction.” With so many books already written in subjects such as these, what must a nonfiction book proposal have to get you interested?
GH: There is no end to history. All of history will never be written. Anything that has a great story and great characters and profound conflicts will be of interest in history. With military nonfiction, we’re looking for novelistic, action-filled narratives of battles, famous or heretofore neglected, with emphasis on the characters of the combatants, and lots of detail.
GLA: If you were teaching a course on writing nonfiction book proposals, but only had 60 seconds to talk, what would you say?
GH: 1) Spill the beans. Don’t try to tantalize and hold back the juice. 2) No bullshit! We learn to see right through bullshit, or we fail rapidly. 3) Write for local publications and small publications first; why does everyone want to pole-vault from being an unpublished author to having a big book contract? It makes no sense. You have to learn to drive before they’ll let you pilot the Space Shuttle.
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GLA: It appears as though you gravitate toward nonfiction, but you also represent literary fiction. If you’re reading a requested literary fiction manuscript, what are you looking for in the first 20 pages?
GH: There was a great first chapter of a Chuck Palahuniak novel that started out with a woman in a burning wedding gown firing a shotgun down a flight of stairs. How can you stop reading something like that?
GLA: What’s another piece of advice you can pass on to writers that we didn’t already cover?
GH: Get published small. Local papers, literary journals, Web sites, anything. The more credits you have, the better. And list them all (although not to the point of absurdity) in your query.
GLA: Will you be at any conferences in the future where writers can meet you?
GH: Probably. Although meeting in person isn’t all it’s made up to be. A really good query with some good prior credits will do just as well.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Why “Keep Moving Forward” May Be the Best Advice Writers Can Hear.
- Write to Express, Not to Impress.
- Agent Interview: Elizabeth Evans of Jean V. Naggar Literary.
- NEW Agent Seeking Clients: Sara Sciuto of Full Circle Literary.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
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