Literary Agent Interview: Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency

This installment features Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency. He is seeking: Any strong fiction (with a current focus on YA, women's fiction, literary fiction, and mysteries) and nonfiction projects.
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“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Uwe Stender of TriadaUS 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 Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency.

He is seeking: Any strong fiction (with a current focus on young adult, women's fiction, literary fiction, and mysteries) and nonfiction projects.

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How did you become an agent?

I have a Ph.D. in literature and had done some editing before. I had been thinking about a career in publishing for a long time, and over the years, I had also been fortunate to meet some successful people in the publishing industry who mentored me as I was exploring that career path. When the right time came for me to start my agency, I was set up and well prepared to go.

What's something you've sold that comes out now/soon that you're excited about?

I am excited about all of my projects being released, so I don't really want to fixate on one and there probably is not space enough for all. People can check on my website and look under fiction news and nonfiction news, and there they can look around for all the great books!

Besides “good writing,” and “voice,” what are you looking for right now and not getting? What do you pray for when tackling the slush pile?

Hmm, I love really strong hooks that are connected to a strong voice and great writing. I would love to see a really clever women's fiction novel, high concept YA, strong middle grade, and an outstanding self-help book. I pray for not overlooking something really great ... that somehow may get lost in the pile.

Online, you mention Candace Bushnell as one example of the kind of women’s fiction you rep. When I hear Candace Bushnell, I think Sex and the City. Does this mean your tastes when it comes to women’s fiction lie on the more “chick lit” side?

I love women's fiction ... and I do enjoy "chick lit," but since it seems that that is a really really tough sale, I stay away from it as an agent. But that does not mean that I cannot enjoy it as a normal reader.

I ask the above question in part because opinions on the definition of “women’s fiction” seem somewhat divided. What constitutes this category in your mind?

I think that "chick lit" has a breezy tone, while women's fiction is more serious ... but that is just a guideline for myself. I prefer to leave the true definitions up to others.

What’s one thing you’re sick of seeing in queries?

I don't like it when there are spelling mistakes in the queries and when the author just sends an obvious mass e-mail.

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What are your feelings on the dreaded synopsis? Some agents like them—some don’t. Do you put much stock in them?

In fiction, I prefer to read the actual full manuscript.

(Learn how to write a novel synopsis.)

A lot of your leading nonfiction clients are prominent figures in their respective fields; therefore, author platform must be important to you. What do you feel is the best way new writers can build platform? Going along with that, what impresses you in terms of one’s platform?

Well, platform is important to sell books ... social networking and speaking engagements are good ways to build a platform. If you have a national TV or radio show, I am very impressed.

Given your experience, what is your outlook on the future of the publishing industry?

I remain an optimist. Reading and publishing have survived for centuries; I don't think it will go anywhere in my lifetime.

In a recent interview you did over at GalleyCat, you said you’re the “world’s biggest” Brian Wilson fan. Prove it.

I took my wife to a Beach Boys Convention on my honeymoon, and I am able to convince her to go to every Brian Wilson concert in a 150-mile radius.

Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?

I have no firm plans to date until next year's (2011's) Capa-U in Hartford.

Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?

Stay positive, don't take rejection personal, and keep writing.

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This guest column by Ricki Schultz,
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