“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Sara D’Emic of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC) 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 features Sara D’Emic of Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC. The Emerson College grad has been an editorial/PR intern for Last Light Studio and an editorial intern for Hanging Loose Press, and she’s excited to be extending her client base. She also Tweets.
(Interested in Talcott Notch Literary? Check out an interview with literary agent Paula Munier, who accepts a variety of fiction and fiction categories.)
She is seeking: In fiction, she accepts adult and YA fantasy, sci-fi, horror, mystery, and mainstream fiction. She is also interested in nonfiction science and technology.
GLA: How did you become an agent?
SD: I saw the position at Talcott Notch and applied. A friend of mine was interning for a literary agent, so from her I got a little insight into what I’d be doing (emphasis on little). It was an exciting way to start a career, and my goal was always to work directly with authors and their books.
GLA: What’s something you’ve sold that comes out soon that you’re excited about?
SD: R.F. Sharp’s No Regrets, No Remorse came out a few months ago, but there’s a sequel in the works and I’m excited. Sharp won the Poisoned Pen Press Discover Mystery Contest with the first book, centered around Sydney Simone, a vigilante who isn’t entirely altruistic but is incredibly badass.
GLA: Besides “good writing,” and “voice,” what are you looking for right now in fantasy and not getting? What do you pray for when tackling the slush pile?
SD: Originality and depth. A lot of the fantasy queries I read sound the same. There are varieties of magical creatures or powers or worlds, but it feels like there’s a fantasy novel mad-lib and people are filling in the blanks. What I see most are queries with a decent premise, but the characters and plot are dull. Often too, the author has a fantastic idea but doesn’t take that idea as far as it can go.
GLA: One of the fiction categories you accept is horror. Can you talk to us more about your interest here? Things you love seeing/things you’re sick of seeing?
SD: Horror is my favorite genre, but I’m very picky about it. It’s hard to get right. Good horror isn’t just about scares. It’s about dark emotions: where they come from and how you deal with them. It can be hopeful; we see the protagonist fighting against this hell and it reminds us to be strong. It should be provoking, not that it shocks but that it makes readers think. Toni Morrison’s Beloved is horror, though it’s not shelved there: it’s a deeply insightful book but bare-bones a ghost story. Horror is more versatile than people sometimes give it credit for.
As for my tastes, I like ghost stories and secrets. Secret pasts, family secrets, town secrets. Creepy people and things. I’m sick of seeing serial killers. There’s been too much of it lately. If you’ve written a serial killer novel, watch every episode of Criminal Minds, and if your book still seems fresh, then send it to me.
GLA: How is the market for these kinds of projects? Do you see this changing anytime soon—and, if so, why/why not?
SD: For horror the market is small, but it’s always there. I think it will mostly stay as is, though I’ve been seeing editors (especially in YA) edging towards darker stuff.
GLA: The only nonfiction category you represent science & technology. What draws you to this? And what are you looking for here?
SD: Those are the only nonfiction books I read regularly. I mostly follow physics, astronomy and paleontology. Science is fascinating. I like weird world (or weird universe) types of books. What have we created that we didn’t think possible? What already exists in nature that defies what we thought?
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GLA: What’s your biggest chapter one no-no—or the one you see the most often?
SD: A boring first chapter. Chapter two could be fantastic, but agents and editors can’t keep reading just hoping it gets better. Readers certainly won’t.
GLA: What’s the first thing you want to see in a potential client when you Google his or her name? The *last* thing? What should all new writers be doing?
SD: Their author website should be first! The worst is their name on a site that has nothing to do with them as a writer. Facebook and Twitter pages aren’t that good coming up first, since those pages often don’t have the information readers are looking for. Plus, if you search a name in a social networking site, you’ll get a lot of different people, and it can be difficult to tell who’s John Smith the writer and who’s not. Every author needs a good website that’s a home base for the rest of their social media. And it should only take a few clicks to buy the book.
GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
SD: Yes! I’ll be at the Write Stuff Conference with the Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group on March 22-23, the Writer’s Digest Conference on April 6 [in New York City], the Henderson Writer’s Group Las Vegas Conference on April 18-20, the ASJA Personal Pitch on April 25, and the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. Conference on May 2-4.
GLA: What is something personal about you writers would be surprised to hear?
SD: Hmm . . . maybe that I write, too.
GLA: Where can people see your full submission guidelines?
GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
SD: Research! There’s an overwhelming amount of information out there on publishing. When dealing with agents and editors be professional.
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- How to Increase Conflict in Your Story.
- How to Conquer Self-Doubt and Just WRITE.
- Why Me Must Write Anywhere and Everywhere.
- NEW Literary Agent Seeking Clients: Carly Watters of PS Literary.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Author Platform.
- See How First-Time Novelists Got Their Books Published.
- 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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