KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?
SH: I am a relatively new agent but have worked in publishing and law for more than a decade. Having served as both an acquisitions editor and a corporate/licensing attorney in New York, becoming an agent was a natural progression and a great combination of my skills and passion. I am so pleased to have joined Marsal Lyon and couldn’t be happier with the agency and its approach to helping writers achieve their publishing goals.
KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
SH: I believe the author/agent relationship should be a true collaboration with open lines of communication. With respect to edits, I am pretty direct and will let an author know if I feel that something isn’t working in the manuscript and help brainstorm ways to improve it. With respect to submissions, I feel it is important to keep authors very much in the loop with where the manuscript is and how editors are reacting. In general I see it as a long-term relationship that goes both ways.
KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
SH: I was drawn to Kita Murdock’s middle grade novel, FUTURE FLASH (Skyhorse, June 2014), due to its charming characters, vivid prose, and fast-moving storyline. I took an instant liking to both the project and its lovely author, but knew I had a winner when I gave the manuscript to my nine-year-old daughter and she read it one sitting!
KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
SH: I represent authors of literary and commercial fiction, young adult fiction, and select nonfiction. With respect to fiction: I am drawn to fresh voices, compelling characters, and crisp prose.
For nonfiction: I am interested in memoirists with exceptional stories to tell, as well as authors with a strong platform in current affairs, history, education, or law.
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
SH: Pitches that contain too much puffery, or are too vague about an author’s credentials, sometimes put me off. I enjoy working with both debut and experienced authors.
KV: Your agency's website specifies that writers should only include a query letter in their initial electronic submission, but several respected industry sites have advised writers to include a few sample pages at the bottom of every query, whether the agent asked for them or not. So if a writer goes ahead and adds those pages, do you find that more assertive or obnoxious?
SH: It wouldn’t really bother me, but as a general policy, I think it makes sense to try to follow each agency’s preferences if possible. I’ll also note that if we have requested pages from an author, we do try to give a more personalized response, and there isn’t time to do that with every initial query.
KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?
SH: Superb writing in the genres I described in question #4!!
I do have one niche interest due to living in Boulder, Colorado: I am eager to hear from authors with a unique perspective on the New West.
And while I have not grown tired of anything in particular, it is obvious to me when someone is writing to fit a trend instead of writing from the heart.
KV: What’s the best way to query you?
SH: I look forward to receiving queries at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks very much for the interview, Krista!
And thank you, Shannon, for answering my questions. I hope your next client is reading this interview right...NOW! :)
Have a great weekend, guys! *dives back into revisions*