Thursday, May 13, 2010

Interview with an Agent: Suzie Townsend

I have another great interview for you, this one featuring Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary Management. Enjoy!

KV: In your interview with the Blog Realm, you mentioned you used your summers to write while you were in school, both as a student and as a teacher. What did/do you write?

ST: I essentially wrote some fantasy and vampire novels. I was addicted to a couple different series in each genre and when I didn't have any books on top of my TBR pile, I would start writing one of my own. I also wrote screenplays. (In addition to English, I majored in screenwriting in college).
KV: How did you get into agenting?

ST: After feeling disillusioned with teaching, I decided to take a year off and explore other career possibilities. My sister had been working in editorial for a textbook publisher, and the more she told me about the industry, the more I wanted to check it out. This led me to where I found a post for an unpaid internship position at FinePrint Literary Management. I applied, interviewed, and took an intern position. And I loved it! Luckily, they loved me too and offered me a job as the assistant to Peter Rubie, the CEO. Then when I found a manuscript I was in love with, I made a strong case for him to let me offer representation.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

ST: I only sign writing that I'm so in love with that it keeps me up at night. I'm hands on and very editorially inclined. I read and edit, read and edit, read and edit, until it's as perfect as I can make it. A book I sold just recently, I had read it multiple times before we went on submission. And each time I read it, I loved it just as much as I did the first time.

I enjoy brainstorming and working with authors, bouncing ideas off each other. This means my authors and I need to share the same vision for the project and who are as committed to putting in the hard work on the project as I am.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

ST: I am first and foremost drawn to a strong voice. All of the writer's I work with have voices that grabbed me from the first line and refused to let go.

Lisa Desrochers' debut YA paranormal romance, PERSONAL DEMONS is out September 14th from Tor. The sequel ORIGINAL SIN comes out July 2011, and the third book HELL BENT comes out May 2012.

Hannah Moskowitz's second YA novel INVINCIBLE SUMMER (following her debut BREAK) is out in spring 2011 from Simon Pulse.

Arlaina Tibensky's debut YA novel BELL JAR SUMMER is out summer 2011 from Simon Pulse.

Sarah Wylie's debut YA novel ALL THESE LIVES will be coming out in early winter 2012 from Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG.

Ingrid Paulson's debut YA urban fantasy VALKYRIE RISING is out early winter 2012 from Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

ST: I represent children's fiction and non-fiction (mostly YA and Middle Grade, though I would be open to younger chapter books), and adult fiction (fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, speculative, romance). I'm open to representing select narrative non-fiction (with emphasis on memoir, pets, teaching).

I don't represent mysteries, most non-fiction, screenplays, short stories, or poetry.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

ST: Don't send gifts or bribes. As for the actual query letter, all I want to know is what the book is about. I'm not that interested in the writer's personal details, the marketing plan, or who in Hollywood they know.

My personal pet peeves are also when queries open with a rhetorical question (or a series of them!) or when a writer insists this book will make me millions.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?

ST: I'm always looking for literary YA, especially contemporary or speculative (one of my favorite books is Meg Rosoff's HOW I LIVE NOW), and I'd also love to find an urban fantasy or paranormal romance series with a really strong voice. I'm also shamelessly attracted to first person narrators.
KV: What’s the best way to query you?

ST: I accept e-mail or mail queries (no phone calls or drop ins), and I want writers to include the first five to ten pages (pasted into the body of e-mail). I'm probably fastest with e-mail.

Thanks, Ms. Townsend, for these answers. And for those of you thinking about querying her, don’t forget to check out her blog. In fact, all of you should check out her blog, as she’s hosting a book giveaway at the moment for Lee Nichols’s DECEPTION, the first in a new YA paranormal series.

Good luck!


JustineDell said...

Another awesome interview! Thanks.


A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Great interview! Thanks Krista & Suzie!


Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yay! Suzie Townsend is on my list of favorites. I loved this interview!

Thanks, Krista and Suzie. :-)

Kelly Bryson said...

What a great interview and I HAVE A FIRST PERSON NOVEL that I'm just starting to query. Thanks a ton for this addition to THE LIST.

Lisa Desrochers said...

I can tell you first hand that Suzie totally rocks the house =)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great interview. Hopefully when my edits are finished I can query her. :)

Krista V. said...

Justine, Amy, Shannon, Kelly, and Lindsay, happy to add another agent to your list - or to make you even more excited about one that was already there:)

Lisa, thanks so much for stopping by and adding your seal of approval:) There is no better endorsement than a client's.

Myrna Foster said...

Suzie, does Bell Jar Summer have anything to do with Sylvia Plath?

Thanks, Krista! It's even more fun to read interviews with agents who are already on my list.

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, Myrna!

Callie Forester said...

Awesome interview! Thanks! She is definitely going on my list of agents to submit to if I ever actually finish writing my book. lol.

Anyway, I'm writing to all the blogs I follow to ask them to please come help the chimera! :) Just come to my site and click the blog link to see what I mean. Hope to see you over there. thanks! :)

Krista V. said...

You'll make it through your WIP, Callie. Just keep at it. And I just added my comment to Chimera's post:)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview! Thank you so much for sharing this!

kanishk said...

What a great interview
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Krista V. said...

Glad you enjoyed the interview, Kate and kanishk.

Erin Edwards said...

I'm just getting ready to query and Suzie's on my list - so thanks for interviewing her just in time so I can add all this great info.

Krista V. said...

Glad I made the buzzer-beater, Erin:) What genre is your manuscript?

Erin Edwards said...

It's MG, urban fantasy.

I've been collecting agent names for years, writing this book for 4 (writing longer than that)and now it's truth time!


Erin Edwards said...

I meant "collecting agent names."

I don't just collect names. Well, actually I do keep a list of possible character names for my current WIP and other books.

But here I meant "I've been collecting agent names for years." :)

Krista V. said...

Erin, MG urban fantasy seems like a pretty hot genre right now. Good luck with your agent hunt!

Tahereh said...

another great interview, Krista!

thanks for sharing :D

Krista V. said...

And thank you for dropping by, Tahereh.