Literary Agent Interview: Louise Fury of L. Perkins Associates - Writer's Digest

Agent Advice: Louise Fury of L. Perkins Associates

This interview features Louise Fury, of L. Perkins Associates. She is seeking: High-concept young adult fiction and fun, imaginative, and engaging middle grade fiction–-think humor, adventure and mystery. The characters must be authentic and original. Louise really loves historical (especially Regency and Victorian), paranormal, steampunk romance, mystery and epic horror. She’s passionate about connecting with South African authors–anything about South Africa, or by a South African author is on her wish list. In nonfiction, she is looking for pop culture, humor, gift books and witty memoirs.
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As of Fall 2013, Louise Fury has moved to Bent Literary.

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“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Louise Fury of L. Perkins Associates -- born in South Africa) 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 Louise Fury, of L. Perkins Associates [now with Bent Literary as of 2013 href="http://www.thebentagency.com/intro2.php"]. Louise runs her own blog here. You can follow her on Twitter: @LouiseFury.

She is seeking: High-concept young adult fiction and fun, imaginative, and engaging middle grade fiction–-think humor, adventure and mystery. The characters must be authentic and original. Louise really loves historical (especially Regency and Victorian), paranormal, steampunk romance, mystery and epic horror. She’s passionate about connecting with South African authors–anything about South Africa, or by a South African author is on her wish list. In nonfiction, she is looking for pop culture, humor, gift books and witty memoirs.

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GLA: How did you become an agent?

LF: Six years ago, my journalist husband wanted to write a book. I jumped in head first and together we set about researching editors and publishing, query formats and synopsis specifications. We spent our time researching the market and the right way to go about a nonfiction submission. We sent out 10 queries and received an offer before the week was up. I have a marketing background and since that first sale, I have been involved in the publishing industry in as many capacities as I could manage: Reviewer, marketing consultant for authors, both e-pub and print as well as for a literary agency. Because of those various capacities I started to take note of market trends and I loved the idea of helping someone make their dreams a reality. When Lori Perkins and I started working together, we discussed various ways to put my talents to use. We brainstormed my dream client list and because she was no longer accepting new clients, she wanted someone who knew the market, had contacts in the publishing industry and would work hard with her current team of agents to maintain the integrity of the agency she had started.

GLA: I know L. Perkins Associates specializes in romance and you are no exception. But within the genre of romance, can you tell us more about what you like and dislike? Regency? Paranormal? Series? Single title?

LF: If it is a well-spun tale, I will probably love it. I am a historical romance fanatic and I love the Regency and Victorian eras. I am also on the hunt for well-written gothic novels. I am always looking for original paranormal ideas and I adore all forms of steampunk.

(See our growing list of urban fantasy agents.)

GLA: Romance follows a certain form. How can writers keep their stories fresh? Is it as simple as good characters and voice?

LF: Good characters are essential to a good story and originality is important. The plot can be tried and true, but your characters have to be authentic. Grammar can be fixed, but unless you have a good voice and a great hook it can’t work. And even then sometimes a perfect manuscript is rejected.

GLA: I didn’t even know there was steampunk romance, but there must be, because it’s on your wish list. Are there any good examples people could seek out to see how this mix of genres works?

LF: I am looking forward to reading TheIron Duke by Meljean Brook. Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti has gotten some great reviews. Soulless by Gail Carriger is a fun, mild steampunk with a lovely romantic element. I have a fantastic one I am shopping around right now, but there is not much steampunk romance out there. Please ask your readers to send me some!

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GLA: Concerning historical romance, is there anything that’s been overdone? Anything undertapped? For example, have people seen too much set in London? (Or can there never be too much set in London?)

LF: I think the fairytale element of London, royalty and fashion creates a fantasy we women have imbibed on since reading Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty as children. I don’t think there can ever be enough London. Historical Romance is like a grown-up fairytale filled with balls and men with titles. I think the underclass is undertapped in historical romance. We all love the Cinderella story, after all it’s like the American dream, and I love stories about people in service: The stories of women who made ends meet as fortune tellers and writers or seamstresses. I know they had scandalous adventures, too. I would love to see more of that.

GLA: What drives your love for kids’ fiction?

LF: I have worked and been surrounded by children my entire life. My mother took in many underprivileged children. I babysat in high school and college. I was the host of a Road show for children. The youth market was my target demographic in my advertising job straight out of college. I spent a year as an au pair; I have worked with underprivileged kids in foster homes and spent my life entertaining this market. It has always seemed natural to include the youth demographic into my job, no matter what the career.

GLA: Besides general YA and MG, what are you really looking for? For example, less vampire, more boy books, etc.

LF: I love a good vampire story. As far as middle grade, I would love to see more mischievous girl characters—girls who have good intentions, but get up to mischief for a worthy cause.

GLA: Tell me about your interest in South Africa. Are you from there?

LF: Yes, I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and moved to America more than ten years ago. There is so much talent in South Africa, but the publishing industry is almost nonexistent there. People don’t have money to buy books or e-readers; it is really shocking to me. Talented writers who are published in South Africa have very little exposure to the rest of the publishing world. I want to help them break out into the international market.

GLA: Three most common problems you see in query letters?

LF: Sending queries to agents who don’t represent your genre. Queries that are way too long and/or include links to other sites where I am supposed to search for information. Queries that include a list of multiple books, many of which are incomplete.

GLA: Will you be at any upcoming conferences where people can reach meet/pitch you? (Look here to see a list of writing conferences.)

LF: The New York City Golden Apple Awards in September. The New Jersey Romance Writers
of America Conference in October. Push to Publish in Pennsylvania October 2010.The 2011 DFW Writers' Conference in February in Dallas.

GLA: What’s the best way to submit to you?

LF: E-query me at lfury[at]lperkinsagency[dot]com Include a brief, well-written paragraph describing your work as well as the first 5-10 pages in the body of the e-mail. No attachments please. I also post submission calls on my personal blog at www.louisefury.blogspot.com.

GLA: Something personal about you writers may be surprised to know?

LF: Way back in the ‘90s, I made my screen-acting debut on national television in a South African television series.

GLA
: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t discussed?

LF
: 1) Be nice. Be gracious. Keep your cool and try not to get involved in the cattiness of online bickering. 2) You cannot write in a vacuum, so get out into the world and work, meet people and interact with other writers. 3) Sometimes the best writing can originate from an overheard conversation. But you have to experience the world in order to write about it. I believe that you have to live in order to write. You have to live. Period!

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