This installment of Agent Advice features Robin Rue of Writers House. Robin Rue began her career as an editor at Dell, but has since spent more than 30 years as an agent.
She is seeking: mystery, commercial fiction, fantasy, romance, young adult, thrillers/suspense, with a specialization in paranormal and suspense romance authors. She does not seek nonfiction. She does not accept e-mail queries. See full submissions guidelines here.
GLA: Why did you become an agent?
RR: I was in editorial for eight years and worked for four different publishing houses before becoming an agent in 1984. I wasn’t happy working for a corporation and realized I preferred working as a writers’ advocate. That said, my in-house publishing experience has served me well these many years.
GLA: What’s the most recent thing you’ve sold?
RR: I’ve been doing this for over 25 years and represent at least 12 New York Times bestselling authors. I’ve done many deals recently! Not all “notable,” mind you—sometimes, the best and sweetest deals are the smaller ones. And, in this market, all deals are notable!
GLA: What are you looking for right now and not getting? What do you pray for when tackling the slush pile?
RR: I’m always looking for a fresh voice, a good story, and compelling characters.
GLA: You specialize in paranormal and suspense romance authors. In your opinion, are vampires here to stay, or is there something new on the horizon?
RR: Paranormal seems to be a lively trend with readers staying loyal to the classic authors, but I do feel it might be harder to break into that market now, as it is quite filled up on publishers’ lists. My list includes many paranormal and suspense romance authors, but I also work with historical romance, mysteries, men’s thrillers, young adult fiction and even illustrated children’s books.
GLA: Do you still take science fiction? Have you noticed any trends in what you tend to represent?
RR: I do very little science fiction, and the authors that I work with who write in that field are essentially fun to read. I’m not involved enough in the genre to be able to anticipate new angles. I think, just like all genres, a good story, well told, with wonderful characters is the best way to compete with trends.
GLA: Speaking of vampires: Edward or Jacob?
RR: As Writers House (and my good friend, Jodi Reamer) represents the Twilight books, I will stay loyal to both Edward and Jacob.
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GLA: There is some confusion among writers concerning urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Is there more of a distinction between the two than simply an urban setting? In your mind, what separates these subgenres?
RR: Urban fantasy versus paranormal romance is always a fine line. I think urban fantasy lingers a tad longer on the wider plot, and paranormal romance lingers a tad longer on the chemistry between the two main characters.
GLA: With regard to romance, do you accept both category and single titles?
RR: I like all forms of romance. My client list includes a very wide variety of authors who write very different types of romantic fiction. I do not tend to represent category anymore, although I certainly have authors who have written category!
GLA: Where do you notice writers are going wrong in chapter one?
RR: If I’m bored in chapter one, I rarely read further. I don’t like sloppy presentations (grammatical errors, typos). Writing is such an organic gift—I usually see something worthwhile pretty quickly that makes me want to read on, or not.
GLA: What is the one thing you wish you could tell writers pitching you in person?
RR: Relax. I’m not the only authority. If something is not for me, it may easily be just right for another agent/editor.
GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?
RR: Be focused, be patient, and find an agent you trust. Listen, and be pragmatic as well as ambitious. Have fun, and don’t forget what got you into this business in the first place—your love of books and your love of writing.