“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich) 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 agencies.
This installment features Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. She joined DGLM in 1999 after working in film and television development for five years. Following a number of internships in the entertainment business, her first job after college was at PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, where she looked for book projects to be adapted into feature films. Next, she worked as a story editor at Hearst Entertainment, where she scouted material for television movies. A former child actress, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and four little girls.
She is seeking: young adult, middle grade, and adult contemporary fiction of all kinds as well as narrative nonfiction, parenting, cooking and food, biography, memoir, psychology, self-help & how-to, health/fitness, lifestyle, current events, and pop culture.
GLA: How did you become an agent?
SG: After studying film and psychology in college, I wanted to be in New York and went to work in film/TV development where I got to know agents and editors and the way the publishing world works. I was hooked and, after about five years, I knew I wanted to become an agent and it was the right time to segue. I started at DGLM in 1999 and have been there ever since.
GLA: Tell us about a recent project you’ve sold. What was it about this project that made it had-to-have?
SG: I recently sold a narrative nonfiction called The Big Letdown, which will be researched and written by Kimberly Seals Allers, a parenting and breastfeeding advocate. It’s about how our culture has made it so difficult for women to breastfeed and how it’s symptomatic of a larger cultural parenting problem.
I had the idea for this book after my oldest daughter was born almost eight years ago and it took me all those years to find the right writer and get the right pitch together. I sold it to St. Martin’s at auction for six figures, and I’m really excited to see how it comes together.
GLA: Besides “good writing,” and “voice,” what are you looking for right now in contemporary fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart?
SG: I’d like to see more suburban dysfunctional drama along the lines of Little Children by Tom Perrotta.
I’ve been signing up more YA and middle-grade recently than adult fiction. It’s an area of interest since I have four daughters and my oldest is in second grade, so she’s getting to the age where middle-grade will soon appeal (I hope!).
GLA: What are three things that elicit automatic rejections from you when reading the first 50 pages of a manuscript?
SG: A slow start, an unlikeable/unrelatable protagonist, too much/not enough dialogue.
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GLA: According to some sites online, when someone snail-mails you a query, you accept the query, a synopsis, and a sample chapter; however, when they e-query, you accept the query letter only. 1) Is this still accurate? 2) If so, why is this? And 3) Do you get many snail-mail queries these days?
SG: We accept and encourage e-mail queries with sample material, a chapter or up to 25 pages. That must be a mistake on a website.
We get few snail-mail queries these days, mostly e-mailed submissions.
GLA: Glad I asked!! One of your nonfiction interests is cookbooks. How can someone hook you here?
SG: This is another personal area of interest and one I’ve worked in my entire career as an agent so I know it quite well. The combination of elements required to work for cookbooks in this market is a talented author with a multifaceted platform (online, print, TV) combined with a concept that is original and well executed. It’s a lot easier said than done.
GLA: Speaking of cookbooks, what is that market like these days? How are cookbooks selling, and what do you see for the future?
SG: The market is strong for certain titles but I’d say mixed and unpredictable overall. Cookbooks are still selling from my perspective, and it’s still a huge part of my business, but I think fewer copies are selling at publication and it’s harder to get cookbooks to stand out.
I think people love to cook and will always love cookbooks, so it’s just a matter of finding the right mix of elements to create a marketable and appealing package. I see electronic books improving for color and recipe-driven books in the future and e-books becoming a bigger segment of the market for cookbooks, which has been slow to this point.
GLA: Where are people going wrong in their memoir submissions to you?
SG: With memoir submissions, it’s really important to prove in your pitch that there is an audience for your book that you are going to be able to tap into [it]. It’s not just about having an interesting story and telling it well, although that’s where it has to start; it’s also about how to market and promote your story. If you can prove in your pitch that you are not only going to be able to write your memoir, but sell it well, then I’ll be able to take it seriously.
GLA: Because of your interest in nonfiction, platform must be important to you. If you were to Google a prospective client, what are three things you’d like to pop up in your search right away? What should all new writers be doing?
SG: Good question. I like to see a lot of articles or related media about the person. It’s a huge red flag to see just a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. I also like to see links to national publications and websites or blogs with a big audience. And links to videos are incredibly helpful to see the author live and in person.
GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
SG: I’ll be at the Self-Publishing Expo at the Sheraton on October 27 and am working out details of participating in a panel at the Cookbook Conference February 7-9 at the Roger Smith Hotel, as well as IACP.
GLA: What is something personal about you writers would be surprised to hear?
SG: I was a childhood professional actress and worked in commercials, theater, TV and film for over 10 years in the late 1970s and through the 1980s.
GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
SG: Don’t give up. Keep learning, growing, and always writing. Use the rejections wisely to better your work. Do your research and make sure you’re submitting to the right agents. And read our blog at www.dystel.com for lots of great advice!
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- Agent Interview: Elizabeth Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates.
- A List of Overused Words in Novels and Story.
- NEW Literary Agent Seeking Clients: Liat Justin of Serendipity Literary.
- Why Publishing Your First Novel is Like Running For Student Body President.
- 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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