Agent Advice: Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary

This installment features Scott Eagan, founder of Greyhaus Literary Agency near Seattle. He is seeking: Scott Eagan represents writers of romance and women's fiction. See more online at his website. In his words: "I am ACTIVELY (can I make that any louder?) looking for Hot and Steamy contemporary romances for the Mills and Boon Modern Heat Line."
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“Agent Advice”(this installment featuring agent Scott Eagan of Greyhaus 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 Scott Eagan, founder of Greyhaus Literary Agency near Seattle.

He is seeking: Scott Eagan represents writers of romance and women's fiction. See more online at his website. In his words: "I am ACTIVELY (can I make that any louder?) looking for Hot and Steamy contemporary romances for the Mills and Boon Modern Heat Line."

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GLA: How did you become an agent?

SE: I had been teaching English for more than 10 years and had just moved from the K-12 system to the collegiate level. At that time I had also done some work with my own writing (I write poetry on the side). I was looking for a change of career and everything sort of fell into place at the right time. With my background in English, degrees in English Literature, Creative Writing and Literacy, this seemed to be the right move.

GLA: What is the most recent thing you've sold?

SE: I have been doing a lot of work recently with both SourceBooks and with Harlequin Mills and Boon. In both cases, the work has been primarily in the historical romance market. Right now, my top two writers are Michele Young from Toronto and Bronwyn Scott from the US. Michele has come out with No Regrets and The Lady Flees Her Lord, both stories with unconventional but very real heroines. The men fall in love with them for who they are not what they look like. As for Bronwyn Scott, she has been active with the new Harlequin Historical undone line releasing Pickpocket Countess and Notorious Rake, Innocent Lady. She is also part of the new e-book line they are releasing.

GLA: Your specialties are romance and women's fiction. What attracted you to these areas?

SE: First of all, I have to say, I just love these stories. Both romance and good women’s fiction tend to make you feel pretty good when you finish a great book. Business-wise, I chose these lines simply due to supply and demand. Although a lot of agencies represent these genres, few only focus on the genre. I believe it is important to focus on one area and do it well.

GLA: How does a writer know she's writing women's fiction, as opposed to literary fiction?

SE: I think I have a fairly good definition of women’s fiction. These are not simply stories with female characters but stories that tell us the female journey. Women’s fiction is a way for women to learn and grow and to relate to others what it is to be a woman. When I think of literary fiction, the emphasis is placed more on the telling of a good story instead of making the female journey the centerpiece.

GLA: There is a lot of romance out there. What can set a story apart from the many bad ones?

SE: What I find separates the good from the bad is the depth I which the stories go to be unique and real. There are a lot of stories out there that are just copying a template. Sure the story is a fun read, but I just wouldn’t put it up there with the “good” stories. When I find an author that does that, I just can’t put the book down. I really hear the voice of the author coming right off the page.

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GLA: Let's talk queries. Specifically - the pitch paragraph. What must be in there for you to be interested?

SE: The pitch is simple. I want to know not only the basics (the genre, word count and title) but I want to really know what makes this story unique and different from everything else out there. Anymore, it is not so much a matter of being a good writer, you have to have a story that makes us stand up and take notice. Along the same lines, I want an author to show me he or she understands the business and their place in the world.

GLA: When pitching a romance, should a writer have more books lined up or planned out? I know that romance writers usually pen multiple books (and sometimes even have multiple series). From a career standpoint, what must a writer know if they want to write romance? On this note, if a writer came to you and said "I have one book and don't plan to write another," would you take it on if it was good?

SE: As an agent, I am looking for someone to be in it for the long haul. Unless the story is such a breakout novel (which you really don’t find very often), a writer will need to have more books ready to go. Now, does this mean the author should have the books written? Not necessarily. The author may simply have an idea of how they are going to become a “brand.”

GLA: From that career standpoint, a writer needs to have a clear picture of where they want to be in the next 5 years and even in the next 10. This needs to be a realistic picture and not the belief that she will retire immediately from all the proceeds of the book.

SE: As far as the writer with one book. The odds are, I would pass on it. Again, since I am working with the romance and women’s fiction genre, they will not make enough money off that one book to make it worth our time.

GLA: Will you be at any upcoming conferences or events where writers can meet you?

SE: I have very little things on my agenda right now. I’m tentatively heading to the Silicon Valley RWA chapter in May and will be at the RWA national conference in Washington D.C. in 2009. When it comes to conferences, I go to where I am invited. Another great place to meet me would be via my blog or even taking my online Marketing Your Fiction Novel Class (information on my website).

GLA: Best piece(s) of advice concerning something we haven't discussed?

SE: I would simply tell writers to do their research and don’t rush into the publishing. Be ready to make the move both with your manuscripts and mentally. Know exactly who you are sending your works to and why. The more you know, the better off you will be.

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