Literary Agent Interview: Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary Agency

This installment features Tamar Rydzinski of The Laura Dail Literary Agency. She is seeking: Tamar is not interested in prescriptive/practical nonfiction, humor, coffee table books or children’s books (meaning anything younger than middle grade). She is interested in everything else, providing it is well-written and has great characters.
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“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Tamar Rydzinski, also judged a previous "Dear Lucky Agent" contest for the blog) 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 Tamar Rydzinski of The Laura Dail Literary Agency.

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She is seeking: Tamar is not interested in prescriptive/practical nonfiction, humor, coffee table books or children’s books (meaning anything younger than middle grade). She is interested in everything else, providing it is well-written and has great characters.

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GLA: How did you become an agent?

TR: In college, I didn't know what to do with myself one summer and a friend of my mother, who happens to be an author, said, "I think you would love being an agent." She got me an internship with her agency and she was right, I loved it! So in a way, agenting fell in my lap and I am eternally grateful for it.

GLA: What’s the most recent thing you’ve sold? What’s something you represented that recently came out?

TR: The most recent thing I sold is called Blood on the Moon and it's a paranormal YA series about a college freshman who learns the true meaning of sacrifice and the dangers of falling in love, especially when werewolves and vampires are involved.

A couple of books of mine that have recently come out are Shadow Magic by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett, the second book in a wonderful fantasy series and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James, which fictionalizes the love story between Charlotte Bronte and the man who eventually became her husband.

GLA: One of your favorite categories is women’s fiction. What draws you to this category? Why the love?

TR: I love women's fiction because I'm a sucker for relationships of all types--romantic relationships, friendships, relationships with your surroundings; I love when the setting takes on a life of its own and becomes a character in its own right. And I think that often, women's fiction does that best.

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GLA: How can writers make their submission break out of the pack?

TR: In general, the way to make a submission stand out is to do your research--if you mention that you read such and such book represented by our agency and your book is reminiscent of it, then I am more likely to take notice. And, of course, writing is key. Query letters are hard, but they are the first thing I see so take your time, days if necessary, and make sure that it is well written and there are no typos.

GLA: You look for kids writing. Can you be more specific about what you do and do not want to see?

TR: I look for middle grade and above, so no picture books and no chapter books. I do love fantasy of all types, though I think there is a lot of room for realistic books as well. And I am a big fan of dystopian, though I generally don't like apocalyptic fiction. And series are generally more intriguing than stand-alones, though I definitely have stand-alones, too. I know this doesn't truly narrow it down too much, but that's because I love almost everything!

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GLA: On the subject of young adult fantasy, this is a category I don’t read too much. Can you help me (and other readers) understand some of the basic subgenres of the category? For example, what classifies something as “high fantasy”? Etc.

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TR: Well, the way I classify them (which isn't scientific and not necessarily even correct) is that in high fantasy, an entire world is created; it doesn't take place on what we recognize as the world as we currently know it. It usually has magic or magical creatures of some sort, though there are some exceptions.

Low fantasy takes place in what is recognizably our world, but has traditional magical creatures.
Paranormal fantasy also takes place in what is recognizably our world and has vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, etc. Characters that are human, or were once human, but have evolved into something else.

GLA: You take a lot of nonfiction subjects. Is it as simple as “Give me a good idea and a good author platform and we’re golden”?

TR: It is! Platform is key, though our agency has had success with Skinny Bitch, where the authors had no platform! So if your voice or idea is incredible, then there are ways to get around the platform issue.

GLA: What’s the best way for writers to contact/submit to you?

TR: I prefer e-mail queries: queries[at] The guidelines for submission are on our website. Of course, I accept hard copies of queries as well.

GLA: What’s something personal about you writers may be surprised to know?

TR: One thing about me that people in general are surprised to know is that I actually grew up right here in Manhattan, where I live to this day.

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

TR: Make as many connections as you can in as many different places as you can. If an author was referred to me by another client, or someone I know, their query and material go to the top of the pile. And once your book is sold, it's helpful to know lots of people to help get the word out there.

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