I was delighted to be interviewed the other day by the lovely Kim Turrisi of the SCBWI, and thrilled to share that interview from the April issue of the SCBWI Insight. A short tease is below!
SCBWI Insight: There’s so much talk about the best way to query an agent. What gets your attention when a query pops up in your inbox? What makes one query stand out more than another? In that vein, what does it take for you to request a partial or full manuscript?
Kate: For the most part, I’m looking for something ineffable. I want a strong hook, or a story that I haven’t seen before, or a character concept that catches my attention, or a voice that screams “read me!” And despite the fact that there is so much information about how to hook an agent, you’d be surprised the number of queries that reach me that get it wrong—wrong genre, wrong pitch, wrong material—at least for me. So when you get that right, when an author has done their research and can show me that they’re querying me for a reason, that stands out. As my awesome stepdaughter’s math teacher would say, “Show your work.” You can get points for it.
When a query has that special something, and the pages included show a strong writing ability, then I’ll ask for a partial—the first five chapters, usually—and a full synopsis. I know that many of my agent colleagues are switching over to asking for a full manuscript right away, but I like keeping that second step in there. I like checking in with an author five chapters in to a manuscript to say “I love this, can you send me the whole thing?” It also keeps it fresh for me—if I don’t feel like I’m waiting on pins and needles to get that full manuscript after requesting it, maybe it’s not for me after all, no matter how good the first five chapters are.