Friday, May 13, 2011

Interview with an Agent: Michael Carr

Today’s long-awaited interview features Michael Carr of Veritas Literary Agency. (Three cheers to Blogger for getting the system up again! (Now if they could only find a way to get yesterday's posts back...)) Get ready to add another agent to your lists:)

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

MC: I've been working as an agent since last fall. I had worked as a freelance editor, writer, book doctor, etc., for many years and started doing scouting for Katherine Boyle at Veritas. I enjoyed the work so much and discovered that Katie and I liked so many of the same things that it was a natural transition into agenting. It is hard work and long hours, but I get to work with books all day. I love that.

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

MC: I want to be responsive to my writers, never want them to wonder what happened to me. I like to know what my writers are working on and have a discussion before they start a project, and I also need my writers to be flexible. I would never tell my writers what kinds of books to write, however. That never works. In general, I'm more interested in signing writers rather than single books.

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

MC: We sold a YA zombie trilogy a few weeks ago, and I've recently gone on submission with everything from a YA dystopian to a non-fiction book about a celebrated murder in the Great Depression. I'll be going out shortly with a women's fiction novel with a sharp edge.

I like writers with a good voice and am drawn to natural storytelling.

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

MC: I never planned this, but I've got more YA and MG writers now than anything else. I usually pass graphic novels to my associate, because I don't know what to do with that. Literary has been slow lately, and I had a great, page-turning novel set in Africa that I've had a hard time placing because of the setting.

I have to be cautious about taking on some projects simply because the market is slow or I don't know enough about the category. This is unfortunate, but it doesn't do me or the writer any good to offer on a book that is wrong for me.

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

MC: I'm turned off by boasting. Also, a lot of writers would be well served by going online and learning about proper query format. I'm not a huge stickler for this, but there's a reason a standard exists. I've got to sort through zillions of queries and standard query format is a tool that helps me determine in a hurry whether or not a book is right for me. Anything that deviates too far from this standard costs me time and I don't care for that.

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

MC: I'd love to see a good YA or MG steampunk novel. A historical thriller would be a welcome change of pace. I'd like some more popular non-fiction.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

MC: We take turns with the Veritas slush, and I'm not the one on the front lines at this moment. Katie does, however, forward projects my way that seem particularly appropriate. If you think I'm perfect for your needs, mention it in the query and if it's good, it will find its way into my hands.

Thanks again, Mr. Carr, for these responses! Great information here. And good luck to all who query--sounds like Mr. Carr would be a great agent to work with.

Have a great Friday, everyone! Try not to cross a black cat’s path today:)


Jess said...

Thanks for a great interview~ you packed in lots of information in a small space! Thanks Mr. Carr and Krista!

Myrna Foster said...

We get two interviews this week? Mr. Carr sounds like he'd be a great agent, and I know someone who's about to query a YA steampunk novel. Thanks!

Sierra Gardner said...

Great interview!

p.s. I was able to recover my post from yesterday by copying it from google reader.

Katie Dodge said...

Great blog! I love agent interviews!! I'll be back soon! :D

Krista V. said...

Jess, I totally agree. Every single one of these answers really resonated with me.

Myrna, guess I'm trying to make up for all those weeks with NO interview:) Is Adam the fellow about to query a YA steampunk? Whoever it is, definitely pass Mr. Carr's name along.

Sierra, my love! Thank you for sharing your tricks with us! Google Reader is a lifesaver! (I almost always write my posts on Word, then copy and paste them to Blogger, but yesterday, I didn't. The universe must have been trying to teach me a lesson...)

Katie, welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

Marquita Hockaday said...

I love interviews like this- quick but full of useful info. Yet another name to add to my query list--he sounds really awesome.

Myrna Foster said...


Krista V. said...

He does, doesn't he, Marquita? Best of luck with your query!

Myrna, I thought so:)