Friday, November 12, 2010

Interview with an Agent: Mary Beth Chappell

Today, I’m thankful for Honey Bear, who is my alpha reader, my beta reader, and my everything-in-between reader. (Yes, I’m trying to make up for forgetting to mention him in my last (work-in-) progress report.) Oh, and the guy who keeps me from going crazy, either with too much or too little confidence:)

Today’s interview features Mary Beth Chappell of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, who strikes me as a straightforward, no-nonsense sort of agent. I’m sure a lot of you will relate.

KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

MC: About six years...complete serendipity.

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

MC: It's a chemistry thing...I expect hard work, enthusiasm and a strong desire to produce really great work.

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

MC: My client Melanie Dickerson's YA medieval romance, THE HEALER’S APPRENTICE, was recently published. I thought she did a great job of creating a warm, relatable character.

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

MC: No poetry. Fiction and nonfiction, cookbooks.

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

MC: "I have written a fiction novel." Basically, it needs to grab me.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

MC: Quality. Same as always.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

MC: E-mail only.

KV: How do you feel about a writer’s including a few sample pages at the bottom of the query? Do you find that more assertive or obnoxious?

MC: Completely neutral. If my interest was caught by the pitch it's helpful. If not, I don't really care:-)

Thanks again, Ms. Chappell, for these answers. Like I said, simple, straightforward. Also, you queriers might be interested in knowing that she responded lightning-fast to every one of my e-mails. Best of luck.

Have a great weekend, all!


Lisa_Gibson said...

Thanks for the info and the to the point answers. :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Janet Johnson said...

Great interview as always!

lotusgirl said...

Nice to get to know her a little. Thanks for the interview.

Esther Vanderlaan said...

Thanks for workin' so hard on these interviews. I know it takes time- that you could be using for any other thing. So again, thanks!

Myrna Foster said...

Thank you for the interview and for always linking to the agency.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

You guys are so welcome!

Kelly Bryson said...

Thanks! Great interview, as always. She's on the list! And it's nice to know how quickly agents respond to emails. Thanks!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Kelly, happy to add another agent to your to-query list!

Ben Spendlove said...

I love those answers. Enough said. ;)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Ben, agreed.

Lorena said...

Krista, thank you for introducing me to a new agent I didn't know about ;) Good interview!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Lorena, happy to make introductions:)

Anonymous said...

She has a 95% non-response rate on Query Tracker and I never got a reply to my query so why bother with this agent if she's too busy? Her abrupt answers indicate she's not looking for new clients. Her loss!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Point taken, Anon (although I think her answers could just as easily be called efficient). Sorry about the non-response. I don't like those, either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, but I think these ultra-busy and aloof agents are a waste of time and space. But they keep getting featured and bombarded with queries, yet reject 99.99%. Never read of her taking on a new client, have you?

Why not feature young & hungry upcoming agents who are the next superstars and who welcome new author submissions?

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for the comment, Anon. I try to contact a wide variety of agents just to get a diverse sampling on the blog, but I do tend to focus on newer agents, since queriers need to know more about them. (A lot of the agents in my sidebar, you'll notice, are the younger agents at their respective agencies.)

However, when I discovered Ms. Chappell's name on QueryTracker, I decided I wanted to know more about her, so I contacted her, and she was kind enough to agree to do the interview. If an agent's willing to answer my questions, the least I can do is post their answers.

Best of luck in your agent hunt.