Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Tamar Rydzinski

I’ve got another great one for you. Today’s INTERACTIVE interview features Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary Agency. Details on the interactive part are at the bottom. Happy reading!

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

TR: I've been agenting for just over five years, though I was an assistant for a couple of years before that.

In college, I majored in English Lit and minored in business. During my junior year, my mother's friend, who's a well-established author, said to me, "You know, I think you would love being an agent." So she helped me get an internship at her agency (Curtis Brown) and I did love it! So when I graduated, I pursued a job in publishing. And am still incredibly grateful to my mom's friend.

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

TR: My agenting philosophy is basically find books I love, work hard on them with the author, sell them. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I've had a few cases where I submitted one book, which didn't work, then went on to sell the second book.

I expect trust. I expect respect. I expect authors to realize that I am working hard and have many demands on my time. And I give the same in return.

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

TR: I have some incredible projects coming up! BLOOD ON THE MOON by Jennifer Knight is being published by Running Press this summer. It's a great young adult story with werewolves and vampires and a girl stuck in the middle. I was drawn to this one because it had that quality to it where I just didn't want to stop turning the pages. Plus, I read it right after I finished the Twilight series and I was always team Jacob, and in this one, the werewolf gets the girl.

QUEEN OF GLASS by Sarah Maas is being published by Bloomsbury next winter. It's a young adult fantasy about a teenage girl who ends up in a competition to become the kingdom's top assassin. I was drawn to this because of the author's incredible imagination. I read this and was completely awed by the world building. How can you not love a book that turns Cinderella into an ass-kicking, magic-wielding princess? Oh, did I not mention this is a fairy tale retelling? It is. I love those!

And I just sold an incredible book to Tor: DELIA’S SHADOW by Jaime Lee Moyer. It's an historical fantasy that takes place during the San Francisco World's Fair in 1915 and has ghosts and a serial killer. And some truly amazing writing.

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

TR: I don't represent picture or chapter books. I do an incredibly limited amount of practical nonfiction, though I do like cookbooks. I'm generally not the right agent for humor. And literary fiction would have to be very up-market to appeal to me as an agent.

I do love YA, middle grade, women's fiction of all kinds, narrative nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.

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

TR: I know I have a tough name, but get it right! And check our agency guidelines. And make sure you read your query over and over looking for mistakes. If you don't have the patience to get your query letter right, it tells me that you don't have the patience to be a writer.

Also, please tell me about your book in the query letter. I can't know if I want to read it if you haven't told me anything about it.

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

TR: I'm looking for a good hook with great writing. I know, that's what everyone says. But the truth is that I'm not looking for anything specific. Just something to fall in love with.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

TR: E-mail: Query letter and five sample pages. No attachments.

Thanks again, Ms. Rydzinski, for these wonderful responses. And cashew gallery (because you guys are a million times better than plain peanuts), doesn’t that line-up of forthcoming titles sound intriguing? (Okay, maybe not so much for you contemporary writers. But we fantasy and sci-fi folk are suitably excited.)

And now on to the main event! If you have questions for Ms. Rydzinski, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. She’ll pop in once this morning and once this afternoon to leave her answers. I’m cutting questions off a little early today (since Ms. Rydzinski has a meeting), so if you want to get a response, make sure you leave your comment before 3:00 p.m. EST (which is 12:00 noon PST).

Have at it!


Barbara Kloss said...

Thanks Tamar for being available today and thanks to Krista for hosting this! Tamar, what is your philosophy on the re-query? (say, if you were a little overzealous and sent a terrible one to a few poor agents.) And one more question, if I'm allowed, what do you look for in the 'voice' of those first 5 pages?

bigblackcat97 said...

Hello and thanks for doing this interview! I was wondering what's the best way for writers to distinguish ourselves (besides the hook) in our query? How do we show you we've done our homework and are actually submitting to YOU the agent, rather than ticking you off our list of agents to approach?

rebekahlpurdy said...

What are some of your favorite books? Is there any author in particular that made you fall in love with reading/being an agent?

Kristi Helvig said...

Great interview. My questions for Tamar are "Do you consider yourself an editorial agent?" and "Do you see a current market for YA sci-fi?" Thanks!

Tamar said...

Barbara: I'm all for the re-query. And you can query me again for a different book, too. Few writers sell the first book they've ever written and it wouldn't be in my best interest to forget that!

In terms of voice, that's a tough question because it's not a specific thing that I'm looking for but rather a unique voice that speaks to me. And if you look at the books that I've sold, lots and lots of different voices speak to me!

Tamar said...

Bigblackcat97: Honestly, it's nice to see mention of a book me or my agency has represented, but it's not totally necessary. If you're sending a query for a genre I represent, I will gladly take a look.

If the query is well-written and interesting, I will assume that you've done lots and lots of homework, and hard work!

SM Johnston said...

Do you represent authors internationally? I'm in Australia (it's 1.40am here) and there are very few agents that rep YA Scifi locally.

Tamar said...

rebekahlpurdy: That is such a tough question, and I will obviously be leaving out my clients' books since I love them all!

I recently read and loved Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. It's this sweeping historical fiction with amazing characters who totally drew me in. And now I know a very little about Welsh history, too.

But you can check me out on Goodreads. I post everything I read and though I don't write reviews, I do give a rating and you can get a sense of the books I like.

Tamar said...

Kristi: Yes! I am an editorial agent. I generally go back and forth with my clients around five times, sometimes more! It's one of my favorite parts of the job.

I do see a market for YA sci-fi (look at Across the Universe, which has done super well recently). I won't lie and say it's an easy sell, but if you've got a great book, it will happen.

Tamar said...

SM Johnston: Yes, I do. I'm currently working with a UK author on some revisions, but I'm quite excited about his book.

Marian said...

Thanks for taking our questions, Tamar. For adult fantasy, what would be the minimum and maximum word lengths you'd consider?


SM Johnston said...

Great, thanks.

Just wanted to add I read Across the Universe last weekend and it's amazing. Making my 13yo son and husband read it.

Tamar said...

Marian: I really don't think in terms of word count, especially for fantasy. Make sure your manuscript is tight, and you should be fine.

Barbara Kloss said...

Tamar, thanks so much! This is so very encouraging and helpful.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Thank you so much for doing this interview and for answering our questions!

I was just wondering if you respond to all queries, or just the ones where you wish to see more material. Also what is your usual turn-around time on reading queries?


Tamar said...

Caryn: I respond to all queries sent to the correct address (, though with a form pass letter if I don't want to see material.

The usual turn-around time is less than three weeks, though there are times when it gets all the way to five weeks! I try not to let that happen often, but I will admit, it does happen sometimes.

Kelly Bryson said...

As an agent, do you mainly look for books with obvious demand (hot genres) or are you a little more adventerous? How sure do you have to be that X,Y, and Z editors are looking for something similar to take it on?


funny in the 'hood said...

Thanks for graciously taking the time to answer questions. I've been following you on Twitter for a while now and look forward to querying you in the next month or so. My question is, what would you love to see in women's fiction and what are you tired of? Is there anything editors are specifically asking you for right now?

Thank you

Kelly Bryson said...

And PS- Krista- thanks for this great interview and your kind comment on my blog about YA/crossover/new adult Twitter threads.

I think the government should monitor emails, etc. and whenever someone says they want to be a writer, they should get a warning letter that explains concepts to avoid so we wouldn't waste our time writing about college age MCs!
Not that either of us would make such a silly mistake;)

Tamar said...

Kelly: I do have to believe that I can sell something before taking on a client, but I've had success in a few cases where I thought someone was talented, the first idea didn't work, so we came up with a more salable idea that went on to sell.

It doesn't have to be a hot genre, but it does have to fall in a genre...

Tamar said...

Funny in the 'hood: First, I look forward to your query :)

There's nothing really specific that I'm looking for in women's fiction. I really am open to anything. Sorry not to have a better answer for you, but if I like the characters, and the writing, I'd be happy to take on new women's fiction. I'm looking for it!

Krista V. said...

And that's a wrap! A lot of great questions here and a lot of great answers. Thank you, everyone, for always making these interactive interviews work. And a special thank you to Ms. Rydzinski for hanging out with us today!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Forty-five minutes late! Story of my life. Great interview, though, and I had fun reading through all the comments. :)


Janet Johnson said...

Great interview! Thanks for doing these Krista. :)

Krista V. said...

Sorry, Amy! This one finished early because Ms. Rydzinski had a meeting. There's always the next one, right? :)

You're so welcome, Janet!

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the interview! Ms. Rydzinski looks like another great agent for Star Swans. I'm looking forward to reading that Cinderella turned assassin story.

Marybk said...

Oooh. Liked her answers. Thanks, Krista and Tamar!

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, Myrna! And yeah, definitely add Ms. Rydzinski to your list. She's fantastic.

I liked them, too, Marybk:)

Monica B.W. said...

Thanks Krista! Awesome interviews, as always!
Just forwarded this to some friends! :D

Krista V. said...

Thanks for spreading the word, Monica!

Suzanne said...

I know this is really late to be asking a question, but I have to toss it out there. In the interview, Tamar said she likes MG, but on the agency website it specifically states nothing under YA. Thoughts? I have an older MG that I'd love to query her on but didn't want to go against guidelines!

Krista V. said...

Suzanne, I'm not Ms. Rydzinski, of course, but I would say, go for it! A lot of times, agencies only update their websites every once in a while, so the information can be a little out-of-date. She probably didn't represent MG at first, but then she decided to add it to her roster. The worst she can do is pass, right?

If you do decide to query, I'd definitely mention the interview and the fact that she mentioned she loves MG. Then she'll know you did your research and didn't willfully go against guidelines:)

Suzanne said...

Good advice, Krista, and thanks for the reply! I think I'll go for it. :)

Krista V. said...

Good for you, Suzanne! Good luck! Anyone would be lucky to have Ms. Rydzinski as an agent.