Literary Agent Interview: Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary Agency

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“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary Agency) 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.


What are you seeking?

Nonfiction projects in the pop culture, geek culture, pop psychology, design, and lifestyle categories; young adult (any genre), middle grade (any genre), and illustrated picture books; literary and commercial fiction (including fiction with a touch of genre). You can view her up-to-date manuscript wish list here.

How did you become an agent?

I started as an intern, first with literary agent Bree Ogden and then at P.S. Literary Agency, before joining PSLA as an associate agent. As for my educational background, I have a B.A. in English Literature, a B. Ed., and a post-grad publishing certificate.

Tell us about something you sold that just came out or comes out soon?

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (Quirk Books) comes out May 12. We are all very excited about this handbook for ladies living a nerdy life; it’s a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom.

What are you specifically looking for in the slush pile right now and not getting?

Middle Grade manuscripts! I am hoping to add some incredible middle grade writers to my list this year. I’m looking for middle grade books in all sorts of genres, but mainly contemporary, horror, and fantasy.

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What are you tired of seeing by way of submissions?

There is an upswing in contemporary young adult queries (which is fantastic because I love contemporary YA), but the majority of them don’t focus on what makes their book stand apart. With so many realistic stories about teenagers in high school, your manuscript really needs to have a great hook! I’ve also been noticing quite a few manuscripts about pirates… and the pirate’s life is really not for me.

What are the websites you try and visit every day?

Oh, this is fun! An alphabetized list: Comics Alliance; Feedly (for my daily dose of the wonderful blogs I follow); The Mary Sue; Pub(lishing) Crawl; Publishers Marketplace; Quill & Quire; Tumblr (both my personal website and my fandom blog); Twitter; Women Write About Comics. I also subscribe to many e-newsletters and podcasts that I read/listen to on a daily basis.

What is the best way for writers to submit work to you?

Send a query letter, addressed to me, to You can read the P.S. Literary Agency submission guidelines here.

What’s on your nightstand to read? Or what recent releases have blown you away?

My next few books will be: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, and Ms. Marvel. Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona. Books from last year (2014) that I really, really loved: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, and How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran.

And finally, you run a standing feature on your website, #ASKMAR—what kinds of questions do you answer there and what gave you the idea?

I'll answer questions about anything, but most are related to publishing, querying, writing, agenting, etc. It’s like #AskAgent on Twitter, which many agents do (and I do too, on occasion), but I added the feature to my website because it allows me to answer questions in more detail (I don’t have a character limit), and those asking have the option to do so anonymously—an important feature for those who hated raising their hands in class.

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This interview conducted by Gail Werner, a freelance writer
and committee member of the Midwest Writers Workshop.
You can visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

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