Agent Advice: Sha-Shana Crichton of Crichton & Associates, Inc.

This installment features literary agent Sha-Shana Crichton of Crichton & Associates, a Maryland-based agency. Sha-Shana is well versed in legal issues such as copyright law and intellectual property. She is seeking: writers of fiction and nonfiction works, including materials with African, African-American, Caribbean and Latin American themes. Crichton & Associates, Inc. is currently seeking nonfiction by expert authors, contemporary fiction, commercial fiction, chick-lit, and romance novels (contemporary, inspirational, African-American and multicultural).
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“Agent Advice”(this installment featuring agent Sha-Shana Crichton of Crichton & Associates, Inc.) 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 literary agent Sha-Shana Crichton ofCrichton & Associates, a Maryland-based agency. Sha-Shana is well versed in legal issues such as copyright law and intellectual property.

She is seeking: writers of fiction and nonfiction works, including materials with African, African-American, Caribbean and Latin American themes. Crichton & Associates, Inc. is currently seeking nonfiction by expert authors, contemporary fiction, commercial fiction, chick-lit, and romance novels (contemporary, inspirational, African-American and multicultural).

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GLA: What's a recent thing you've sold?

SSC: A recent nonfiction sales is Professor W. Sherman Rogers’ Black Economic Inequality In America: The Role of Entrepreneurship. Recent fiction sales include Candace Haven's paranormal chick-lit books, and romance novels by Pamela Yaye.

GLA: You said recently that you're actively seeking women's fiction. What are things you look for in a women's fiction story/manuscript?

SSC: I look for a great voice with an equally great hook, and stories that not only grab my attention but keep me wanting to finish reading them. I love well-researched stories that evoke the emotions; stories that make you laugh, cry, and otherwise take you into the world of the characters.I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult.

GLA: What needs to be there for you to keep reading?

SSC: I love character-driven stories. For me to keep on reading, the characters have to be well developed, believable and multidimensional.It is important to me that the author does his or her research and writes accurate stories. I tend not to finish reading stories with inaccuracies because I think the author does not care about me, the reader.

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GLA: Let's say that a writer makes a book deal directly with a publisher, but wants to have someone look over the contract before signing. Is it better to hire a lawyer to review the contract, or contact an agent and bring up the possibility of signing with them pre-deal?

SSC: It depends on the needs and the goals of the author. Generally, in addition to negotiating the deal, a literary agent provides career guidance, markets and monitors the author’s subsidiary rights, and monitors the publisher’s actions to ensure that, among other things, the author is paid on time, the royalty statements are correct, and the publisher otherwise complies with the contract.

GLA: You're very knowledgeable in topics such as copyright law and intellectual property. What one tip can you pass along concerning how writers can protect their work?

SSC: Be very careful how you share your story with various "critique partners."It is always best to know and develop a relationship of trust with your critique partners before sharing your work with them.

GLA: What's the number one problem you see in unsolicited novel queries?

SSC: Queries that tell me how great the author is but do not tell me what the story is.

GLA: Let's say you meet a writer at a conference, hear their pitch, then request to see sample pages. The writer then goes home, takes another look at his work, and decides it's not edited well enough to submit. Six months later, the writer has another project - a second different project. Can he send you pages from that manuscript or should he query you again?

SSC: I would prefer that he or she sends me another query. The writer should note that we met before.

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