I’ve been looking forward to this one:) Today’s INTERACTIVE interview features Taylor Martindale of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Details on the interactive part are at the bottom.) Enjoy!
KV: How did you get into agenting?
TM: Before I start, thank you so much for asking me to participate in your interview series, Krista! I’m thrilled to be featured on your blog with so many other wonderful publishing individuals.
I’ve always wanted to work in book publishing. I was one of those kids whose early career plans didn’t change much when it came time to really enter the career world. When I started to search for internships during college, I was looking for anything related to publishing. I came across a Craigslist ad--if you can believe it!--for an internship with a literary agency, and got the job with Bliss Literary Agency. It was a wonderful experience, as I was in charge of all incoming submissions. That’s when I decided to pursue agenting in particular because I love being a part of an author’s first steps into the industry. It’s been a blast ever since!
KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
TM: Wonderful question! The way I see my role as an agent is that I am here to be my authors’ advocate, critique buddy, adviser when needed, and all-around cheerleader. I am very hands-on with revisions when necessary, because I feel part of my job is to help an author put together the best book they can. If I believe in something, I’m not afraid to take on a project that needs work. I also see my job as working to develop an author’s career, not just his or her current book.
What I expect from an agent-author relationship is positive and productive collaboration. I love working with authors who are dedicated to learning about the publishing process and who are really interested in working with me to grow a career. My other expectation, and what I work to foster with my clients, is clear and honest communication.
KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
TM: Since I’m such a new agent, I don’t yet have any of my authors’ books on the shelves, but hopefully very soon! One project I’m psyched about is Debra Driza’s DEMON GUARD. Debra and her book (YA urban fantasy) are both fabulous! I’m working with some other books under development, and I’m so excited about them, as well. I have to stop there so I don’t give anything away, but I’ll update you as soon as I can:)
KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
TM: I currently represent YA contemporary and urban fantasy/paranormal. I’m also actively looking for commercial/women’s fiction, multi-cultural fiction, historical fiction (mostly YA, but can definitely be won over for adult historical), some children’s picture books, and non-fiction projects that catch my eye.
As to genres I do not represent, I’m not looking for science fiction, business, science, or nature books. To qualify that statement, though, if your book doesn’t fit my interests and you are still convinced I’m your gal, please take a stab at convincing me! I’m always willing to read a submission.
KV: Are you interested in picture book writers who AREN'T illustrators?
TM: Yes, I am interested in picture book writers who focus on the text. I will say, though that it's hard for the text only to catch my eye, so really make it pop!
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
TM: Haha, ahh query pitfalls… I don’t have too many pet peeves, but I will say that I like straightforward queries. Pitch your book, tell me about yourself, and don’t worry about the jazz hands and confetti! When I read a query letter, I look to see if the premise of your project catches my interest, and if your letter reflects strong writing. It’s your first opportunity to show why I should take you seriously as an aspiring author, so take advantage of that!
One query pet peeve that does drive me crazy, though: Starting off with a rhetorical question. Those are never answered the way you planned--occasionally coming off as very strange--and that creates a spot of weakness in your letter.
KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?
TM: I’m always looking for characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love plot, but the characters are the element that keeps me reading. I’m also really interested in finding a dark, edgy contemporary YA with a unique story.
KV: What’s the best way to query you?
TM: I take queries by snail mail at the address below, and e-queries by referral only. Don’t forget to mention how you found me, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency
1155 Camino del Mar, PMB 515
Del Mar, CA 92014
Thanks again, Ms. Martindale, for these responses. I think a lot of us (raises hand) have just added another agent to the top of our query lists.
And now for the REALLY fun part:) If you have a question for Ms. Martindale, please leave it in the comments below. She’ll drop in periodically throughout the day to answer any questions she finds down there. Just make sure to comment before 5:00 p.m. PDT this evening, as I’ll be cutting off questions then (so Ms. Martindale can enjoy her Friday night, of course).