Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interview with an Agent: Nicole Resciniti

Well, I’ve got another great interview with another great agent to share with you today. This latest installment of “Interview with an Agent” features Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency. She reps some popular genres, so get ready to add another agent to your to-query lists!

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

NR: I've always been an avid reader (read: insatiable). Hooking up with Mary Sue was a blessing. I worked behind-the-scenes at the Seymour Agency with her, learning the ropes. Mary Sue is incredibly astute, and she's taught me a great deal. It takes a trained eye (and gut instinct and knowledge of the market) to determine if a story has the potential to sell.

After studying both the legal and craft sides of the industry, I received my accreditation from AAR this past year. I opened the Seymour Agency's Southwest Florida Office. I divide my time between here and NJ, allowing me to venture into NYC to pitch directly to the editors. Since becoming an agent, I've actively sought new, strong voices in a variety of genres.

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

NR: My philosophy is simple, find work that I absolutely love and then do everything in my power to sell it. The key word here is "love." There is a lot of good material being circulated by a great many talented authors. When you consider the number of people globally and the resources available to these authors (books on craft, online readers, writing chapters) and the state of the market--good isn't good enough. Something has to be "great" in order to sell. When I find that perfect blend of voice and unique premise, that harmonious pacing that keeps me tearing through the manuscript…I fall in love.

As to the second half of this question, when working with a client, the relationship varies. It all depends on the author and what they want/need. I talk to some of my clients on a daily basis. We bounce around ideas, brainstorm, or I give updates on their submissions. With other clients, we speak far less frequently, or at intervals when they'll forward me a portion of their current WIP. Loyalty, trust, and communication are essential in an author-agent relationship (or any relationship for that matter). I'm very fortunate to have found great authors.

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

NR: I have several projects that I'm very excited about. Jeff Gunning's golf guide [THE SMART GUIDE TO GOLF] is one I like to cite, because it's outside of what I normally rep--and I'd like to see more non-fiction projects.

For "coming soon" purposes, Shelley Galloway's HER SECOND CHANCE will be released next month by Harlequin. Shelley is a longtime client of Mary Sue. Shelley also writes as Shelley Shepard Grey. Whichever name she's using, she's wonderful to read.

What draws me to a project? My interests vary extensively, so the main draw for me is an author's voice. I recently signed two clients, Marisa Cleveland and Julie Ann Walker. Their voices are worlds apart. Marisa pens chick-lit YA, and Julie crafts rough-and-tough romantic suspense. In both cases, I would recognize their writing instantly. Their voices are that strong.

We provide a list of our published author's release dates (and appearances and signings) on our website. I've also incorporated a page for our pre-published authors at theseymouragency.com. Creating buzz and establishing a literary presence prior to selling is important in helping a debut author launch their career.

Since I'm "new" too, I want to find unpublished authors. I want to grow our careers together.

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

NR: I represent all genres except erotica and poetry. Romance is a huge portion of the market, so I'm always excited to see a romance query in my inbox. And I'm a sucker for HEAs. Sci-fi and fantasy intrigue me.

In any genre, the voice needs to stand out and the premise must be fresh. Everything--I mean everything--has already been done. What new twist does the author spin on the same tale?

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

NR: Pet peeves, hmm. Addressing it to another agent's name and mailing it to me. Sending screenplays or poems (which I don't rep). Or taking a wordy synopsis and pasting it into the body of the query.

One thing that isn't a pet peeve, but something I'd caution an author against is stating their inexperience. When you go on a job interview, you want to seem as qualified as possible. If you aren't necessarily qualified for that particular position, you would state the qualities you do possess that compensate for your inexperience. The same holds for a query letter. When an author says any of the following: "This is my first book," "I'm new to writing," "I've finally finished this project after working on it for ten years," OR any variation thereof, it immediately triggers a hesitation in my mind (because a selling author needs to have mastered their craft and be able to deliver a manuscript on deadline).

One of my clients, Amanda Carlson, has included a page on her website to help fellow authors with the query process. Check it out at amandacarlson.com. Other good resources for querying can be found at agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx or querytracker.net. Lisa Collier Cool's HOW TO WRITE IRRESISTIBLE QUERY LETTERS is also a good pick.

My best advice is to start with a hook and make the rest of the query mirror the back cover of a book--with a really tight blurb and a sprinkling of info about an author's credits/accomplishments.

I request five sample pages included at the bottom of the query. Query letters can tell a lot, but nothing is more compelling than the actual pages. I always read the opening scene/pages (sometimes before I even read the actual query). When I reach the end of the sample, if I'm left wishing I could read more, I immediately request the partial. If the first pages don't grab me, I probably won't request more of the manuscript.

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

NR: I'm always on the lookout for romance with a balance between action and sexual tension. I'd really like to find good historical romance. Thrillers/mysteries that provide more than a police procedural. The YA paranormal market is pretty saturated, so something without wings or fangs. I enjoy mysteries with humor.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

NR: The best way to query is by e-mail, nicole@theseymouragency.com. I check my e-mails constantly whether I'm in the office, at home, or on the go. My phone is my best friend, and I--much to my husband's annoyance--check e-mails from my Droid.

The absolute worst part of my job is saying "no" to a submission. Often, if the manuscript requires editing (of the plot and GMC variety), I'll work with the author and review it again.

Not a question of yours, but a last thought…KEEP WRITING. Believe in yourself. Nobody said the path to publication would be easy, but once you get there, it will all be worth it. Join writing groups, polish your craft, and above all, don't quit!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ms. Resciniti, for these in-depth responses. I can already think of a few readers who are going to love them:)

Good luck to everyone who sends her a query, and have a great Thursday!

13 comments:

Janet Johnson said...

Great interview! Sounds like she'd be a great agent. :)

Connie said...

Thanks for the interview. I think I might send her a query.

Kirk Kraft said...

Another outstanding interview, Krista. I appreciate your thoroughness and the agents for offering such in-depth responses.

Kelly Bryson said...

Thanks! Great interview. How many back-and-forth emails do you usually go through for these interviews? Just curious:)

Thanks to Nicole for her great answers.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Another great interview! I am definitely putting her on my list for my cozy mystery.

Krista V. said...

Doesn't she, Janet?

Awesome, Connie! If one of these interviews entices someone to send a query, I know I've succeeded:)

You're very welcome, Kirk! Thanks for stopping by.

Kelly, it depends. If I have follow-up questions or we're trying to work out the details of an interactive interview, it's usually more. I'd say my average is somewhere around seven or eight (my e-mails and theirs), with the low being around four and the high being close to twenty.

A.J., yay! Happy to add another agent to your list!

Myrna Foster said...

I loved the interview, and her bio on The Seymour Agency's website looks great as well. I have a question though. What is an HEA? Wikipedia defined it as a "Hektoen enteric agar, used in microbiology to identify certain organisms," but that doesn't really fit the context ;)

Does she mean "Happily Ever After?"

Monica B.W. said...

Thanks for another great interview! I'll spread the word to my querying friends :D

Krista V. said...

Myrna, I hadn't taken the time to think about it, but I think your guess - the second one:) - sounds about right. Especially since she has a particular fondness for romance, which, by the very definition of the genre, always includes a happy ending.

Thanks, Monica! You're the best!

Martha Ramirez said...

Awesome interview, Krista nd Nicole. Enjoyed reading.

Krista V. said...

Thanks for dropping in, Martha!

Terri Lee said...

Have a project that needs a good agent. I think Ms. Resciniti may very well be the one.

Krista V. said...

I hope so, Terri! Best of luck.