contributor Ricki Schultz.
She is looking for: fantasy, science fiction, romance, mystery, suspense, erotica, and young adult lit. She does not accept nonfiction. See full submission guidelines here.
GLA: How did you become an agent?
GLA: You write some young adult lit (Vamped) and have represented it in the past. Do you still accept submissions in this area?
LD: I represent all kinds of fiction—adult and young adult—though I don’t do early children’s and haven’t done middle-grade (not that I’d close that door if the right project came along).
GLA: In science fiction and fantasy, what are a few topics you feel are overdone?
LD: You know, there are some things out there in abundance, but I love them still. Characters who kick-butt and take names, vampires and shape-shifters and demons, oh my! There are few things so done that you can’t find a new angle and a fresh take on them, though it does become harder the more crowded the field.
GLA: Tell us a little bit more about your interest in romance. Do you accept both category and single titles? As well, are there specific subgenres you prefer over others (i.e., contemporary vs. historical romance)?
LD: I love romance. I’m not looking for a lot of category romance, but I have a couple of authors who do it very wonderfully and successfully. Mostly, I’m interested in single title. I love suspense, paranormal and anything quirky. Books don’t need to have all three of those to catch my interest, but if none of the three are present, chances are I’m not the right agent for the work.
GLA: Staying with romance, is there a difference between the subgenre “erotic romance” and straight-up “erotica”? If so, how does a writer know which she’s written?
LD: The difference to me is that erotic romance is primarily between a couple (or sometimes a threesome) that will have a happily ever after. At its heart, it’s the story of people finding their soulmates and exploring the connection via sex. Erotica doesn’t have to end in a committed coupling. The focus (to me, and I’m sure others’ mileage will vary) is more on the voyage of self-discovery … a character or characters learning what it is that makes him or her happy and comfortable and finding the courage to accept whatever might be revealed. It’s almost that erotica is to romantica as chick-lit is to romance. Does that make sense?
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GLA: It does. You also seek mystery and suspense novels. How can a new writer break into this category without producing a run-of-the-mill detective story? What are some untapped subjects you feel would make for fresh and intriguing queries in these areas?
LD: Producing a “run-of-the-mill” story is the surest way not to break in. Again, what distinguishes work that sells for that which doesn’t is frequently voice, the way the tale is told. Of course, you do have to develop a strong story with red herrings, a sufficiently diabolical villain (though very definitely not in the cartoonish way) and a sense of urgency driving the plot. Aside from that, though, there are no real “musts.” Untapped subjects? Hmm….I’d love to see more psychological storylines. I’m as big a fan of psychology as I am forensics. Unless you’ve got a really new angle, I’d leave stalkers, serial killers, organized crime and terrorists behind. Whatever that leaves, there’s still room for it!
GLA: Where are new writers most commonly going wrong in the query letters you see?
LD: Ever since I started taking electronic submissions, I’ve found that many people don’t put the care into query letters that they would have in a hardcopy submission. It’s as if they see an electronic query letter more as an e-mail than a professional introduction to their work. So I’m seeing the disturbing, “Hey, Bob, I’ve got this manuscript I think is right up your alley. Can I send it?” sort of letters. Writers should think of the query as they would a cover letter that goes along with a resume. You wouldn’t dash that off carelessly (or CC it to everyone in the field, another common mistake), so don’t do it with query letters. Also, I see a ton of queries for material I don’t represent, like nonfiction. It’s important for writers to do their homework on agents so they don’t waste their own or the agent’s time.
GLA: How much does a writer’s platform impact whether or not you agree to represent his or her manuscript?
LD: I think platform counts a lot more in nonfiction than in fiction. It’s wonderful, of course, to find that an author has a great starting point for promotion, but what really sells a work to me is the writing itself.
GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
LD: October 17th I’ll be doing a three-hour workshop for the Gulf Coast Writers in Ft. Meyers, FL. October 23rd through the 25th I’ll be at the Kiss of Death Writers Retreat in Albuquerque, NM and I’ll be in San Jose for the World Fantasy Convention the week after. Then, I think, I’ll collapse from exhaustion!
GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
LD: The best piece of advice I can give is: Don’t ever rush things out the door. You know the saying, “Act in haste, repent at leisure.” This definitely goes for rushing query letters, synopses and/or manuscripts out the door before you’ve revised and polished them to the best of your ability. To borrow on yet another cliché, you may not get a second chance to make a first impression.
Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:
- Feb. 11, 2017: Writers Conference of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN)
- Feb. 16–19, 2017: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Feb. 24, 2017: The Alabama Writers Conference (Birmingham, AL)
- Feb. 25, 2017: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
- March 25, 2017: Michigan Writers Conference (Detroit, MI)
- March 25, 2017: Kansas City Writing Workshop (Kansas City, MO)
- April 8, 2017: Philadelphia Writing Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)
- April 22, 2017: Get Published in Kentucky Conference (Louisville, KY)
- April 22, 2017: New Orleans Writers Conference (New Orleans, LA)
- May 6, 2017: Seattle Writers Conference (Seattle, WA)
- May 19-21, 2017: PennWriters Conference (Pittsburgh, PA)
- June 24, 2017: The Writing Workshop of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Aug. 18–20, 2017: Writer’s Digest Conference (New York, NY)
Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:
- How to Create Great Characters, Explained by Agent Donald Maass.
- 170 Agent Interviews and Counting — Read Them Here.
- The Dos and Don’ts Of Writing a Thriller.
- NEW Agent Seeking Writers: Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa 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.
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