“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Cori Deyoe of 3 Seas 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 features Cori Deyoe of 3 Seas Literary Agency. With more than 20 years of experience in the writing industry, she is a published author at Silhouette (national and international). She has also been published in various nonfiction projects. As an employee of 3 Seas Literary Agency since June 2006, Cori traded in her “author’s” hat for a brand new one—“literary agent” and concentrates on her clients’ writing only.
She is seeking: She specializes in romance, erotica, chick lit, young adult and children's chapter books. She is also interested in representing other fiction and nonfiction projects including mysteries, paranormal and thrillers.
GLA: How did you become an agent?
CD: I gave up writing myself in the early ’90s after having three books published, but I remained active in the industry. My niece, Michelle Grajkowski, started 3 Seas Literary Agency in 2000, with a strong background in sales and journalism combined with endless enthusiasm. I assisted her behind the scenes in the early days, and then she took off and became hugely successful in the next five years.
In 2006, she was desperate for a second agent to come on board since the business was doing so well. After a couple of disappointing interviews with applicants, she started pressuring me (as only a family member can do!) to join her and become an agent. She handed me a couple manuscripts to look over while I considered it, I fell in love with one of them, and I was hooked.
Reading has always been my passion, so stepping into an agency with such a great reputation was truly a win-win situation for me. I've never looked back. It's incredibly rewarding to help other writers attain their dream of being published, as corny as it may sound. I now get to make "that call" myself!
GLA: Tell us about a forthcoming project.
CD: In May 2011, YA author Jennifer Brown's second book, Bitter End, is being released in hardcover by Little, Brown. Her debut book, Hate List, was an intense, powerful story dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting, told from the point of view of the shooter's partially implicated girlfriend. That novel has won 20+ awards since its publication (Little, Brown) in September 2009.
Bitter End, which is about a teen girl's abusive relationship with her boyfriend, is equally as phenomenal. It's the kind of book that, while fiction, has the potential to change—or even save—a teen reader's life. I couldn't be more proud or excited! Jennifer is simply an extraordinary talent and a flawless writer.
GLA: What are you looking for in juvenile lit submissions right now? How do your tastes differ from middle grade to young adult?
CD: Considering that paranormal continues to be a strong sub-genre in juvenile fiction, especially for YA, I'm looking for a story that's fresh and really stands out in its originality. The voice and tone need to be authentically age-specific. I tend to enjoy more gritty, edgy YA; in middle grade, I'm looking for something that's fun.
(Look over our growing list of young adult literary agents.)
GLA: How do you think your background as a writer affects what you take on?
CD: It makes me a more sympathetic and understanding agent. I've been in the writer's shoes and can easily relate to the frustrations, difficulties and creative processes involved in that career. As any of my clients can attest to, I'm completely anal about editing. I abhor typos and incorrect punctuation and duplicate words! That may have come from my personal writing background as well.
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GLA: What draws you to romance?
CD: I've been a sucker for romance ever since I was 15 and picked up my first historical. A few years later, I became a voracious reader of Silhouette romances. Really, who doesn't swoon at a great love story? The emotion, excitement, wonder and thrill of falling for that "special" person is a universal theme everyone can relate to. The interesting part is how these two people develop and make it work (despite those pesky odds!). Then, of course, you get the happily-ever-after thrown in to tie up the story in a pretty, satisfying bow. Whether you're currently lucky or unlucky in the relationship department at the time you read a romance, you still gotta love it!
GLA: Staying with romance for a moment, one subcategory you seek is erotica. How healthy is the market for these types of projects right now?
(Look over a growing list of romance agents.)
CD: Erotica really took off about five years ago and has stayed fairly strong. It seems to have peaked about two years ago; while it's still selling well, the market has tightened up somewhat. Along with pretty much every genre in the industry, the economy no doubt caused erotica to take a hit.
GLA: How about chick lit? Is it really dead, as many industry professionals say?
CD: Sadly, I'm afraid so. You don't want to even remotely identify a submission as "chick lit" when sending to an agent or editor these days or it likely won't even get read! On the positive side, we are finally seeing growth again in general women's fiction, which I'm very happy about.
GLA: What’s the most unforgivable thing a writer can do in chapter one?
CD: Not make that first sentence the most intriguing, compelling, original opening ever! Seriously, for many editors and agents, you have maybe one paragraph to either draw their interest or it will be an instant rejection.
GLA: How important is a writer’s platform to you? What should all newbies be doing in order to build theirs?
CD: Honestly, a writer's platform only becomes important once they're sold. So, by "newbies," if you mean unpubbed, I would advise writers to concentrate much more on their manuscripts and worry less about their future platform. An editor isn't any more likely to buy your work just because you have 300 followers on Twitter and a cutting-edge website. But once you have a published book coming out, then certainly an appealing site, blogs, tweets, promotional contests, bookmarks, interviews, etc., all become very valuable.
GLA: Given your over 20 years of experience, what is your outlook on the future of the publishing industry? Any projections for what’s to come?
CD: Being an eternal optimist, I'm going to say I expect "real books" with paper pages and a binding that you can hold in your hand will be around forever! However, realistically, we're entering a whole new era of digital publishing, and it will absolutely have a huge impact on the industry.
E-reader sales are flourishing, but so far the surprising aspect of that is it doesn't seem to be hurting the sales of print books. Rather, the digital sales are adding to the market, bringing new readers who apparently love the convenience, technology and ease of e-readers and are buying books they wouldn't have purchased otherwise. So it's an exciting time, and yet I think most industry professionals are also a bit apprehensive about what's to come five or ten years from now.
GLA: What is something personal about you writers would be surprised to hear?
CD: Hmm ... Well, perhaps I shouldn't admit this, but I've never once been on Twitter. Just. Don't. Get. It. Luckily for our agency, Michelle tweets all the time!
GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
CD: Every author has no doubt heard this before, but I'll say it again: Write about what you know and love. Find a subject matter that makes your natural voice shine. Don't try to fit your work into a genre you're not passionate about, simply because a particular market is "hot." I can't stress this enough; it will make the difference between a manuscript that comes alive and one that reads flat.
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:
- Pitch Perfect: How to Craft Your Book's Hook.
- It Takes a Village (To Write a Novel).
- Literary Agent Interview: BJ Robbins of BJ Robbins Literary.
- How to Get the Most Out of a Writing Group.
- 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.