Literary Agent Interview: Adrienne Rosado of Nancy Yost Literary Agency

“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Adrienne Rosado of Nancy Yost Literary Agency) 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.

(Do writers need an outside edit before querying agents?)

This installment features Adrienne Rosado of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Adrienne is an agent at NYLA as well as the Foreign Rights Director. She is proud to represent authors such as Rita Award winner Caridad Ferrer and debut YA novelist Zoraida Cordova. You can find Adrienne on Twitter here.

She is seeking: Adrienne is interested in literary and commercial fiction, especially YA, urban fantasy, multicultural fiction, and women’s fiction, all with strong voices and an authentic tone. She’s especially drawn to dark humor and innovative takes on classic literary themes.


GLA: Briefly, how did you become an agent?

AR: Right out of college I was one of the many cogs in a corporate machine. I was working in an area that I had no genuine interest in and knew that I needed to branch out. Writing and books have always been my greatest passions and I wanted to figure out how to make a career out of my biggest loves. Working in publishing was a bit of a pipe dream for me since I had heard that it was a difficult field to break into. I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I started applying for internships. I’ve now been in the industry about seven years and am an agent and director of subsidiary rights at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency and really couldn’t be happier.

GLA: What’s something you’ve sold that comes out now/soon that you’re excited about?

AR: Oh goodness. Where to start? I have been absolutely over the moon for debut author, Zoraida Cordova’s The Vicious Deep that was just released by Sourcebooks Fire. It’s a YA about the return of the mermaids to Coney Island, where an unknowing merman prince, Tristan Hart, is caught in the race for an ancient throne. I loved the Coney Island setting and the male protagonist, whose voice was amazingly authentic. I also have a historical mystery called Invisible Country by Annamaria Alfieri out this July [2012] from Thomas Dunne Books. I love Annamaria’s prose. It paints such a vivid picture of civil war torn Paraguay that it almost feels like you were actually there.

(Can you query an agent for a short story collection?)

GLA: Besides “good writing,” what are you looking for right now and not getting? What do you pray for when tackling the slush pile?

AR: I think more than anything else, right now I’m attracted to stories that are emotionally honest and not afraid to tackle the big issues. I would love to work on something like Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Stephanie Kuehnert’s I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, or John Green’s Looking for Alaska. I want to read something that will really elicit an emotional response and make me cry unabashedly on the subway.

GLA: One of your clients, Zoraida Cordova, is a debut author of a fantasy novel involving a twist on mermaids and underwater kingdoms. Are you looking for more YA fantasy?

AR: I’m definitely open to more YA fantasy but it has to go beyond the tropes of the genre, nothing that feels cookie cut or formulaic. I’d probably be disinclined to work on anything vampires or zombies right now, but never say never. If something wow’ed me, I might be willing to take a chance.

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GLA: You’re also looking for multicultural fiction and fiction that has a new take on classic literature. Do you have 2-3 books in mind that fit this bill to get a clearer picture of what you’re looking for?

AR: I was lucky enough to work on Rita Award winner Caridad Ferrer’s When the Stars Go Blue, which is a modern day retelling of Bizet’s opera Carmen. I’d love to work on something along the lines of Jackson Pearce’s Sweetly, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel.

GLA: Are there any genres you tend to accept from commercial fiction such as crime, thriller, romance, or contemporary?

AR: I tend to gravitate toward mystery, paranormal, and upmarket women’s fiction.

GLA: What misconceptions do you think people have about agents?

AR: One thing that always gets me when people hear what I do for a living is the response, “Oh, I’d love to read all day!” Agents don’t typically read during the day, even though I’m sure most of us would love nothing more than that. Our days are usually spent hunched over a keyboard, answering email, going over contracts, on the phone, etc. Basically anything but reading. That usually happens on our own time. This job goes so far beyond the typical 9-5 that you really have to love it to succeed at it.

(Without this, you’ll never succeed as a writer.)

GLA: What is something personal about you writers would be surprised to hear?

AR: I have a motorcycle license.

GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?

AR: I’ll be at this year’s Romance Writers of America Conference in Anaheim [July 2012] and hope to see you there!

GLA: Best piece of advice we haven’t talked about yet?

AR: Authors, write the story you want to write. Don’t chase a trend. Tell the story you want to tell. Words that mean something to you will hit harder than those you think other people want to read.

This agent interview is by Brittany Roshelle Davis, a
freelance writer and aspiring author. You can visit her
blog, The Write Stuff, or follow her on Facebook.

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