Friday, August 19, 2011

Interview with an Agent: Lauren Ruth

And to round out what’s become an unusually busy blogging week, I have another great installment of “Interview with an Agent” for you. Today’s interview features Lauren Ruth, the newest agent at BookEnds. Ms. Ruth blogs at Slush Pile Tales, so after you check out the interview, don't forget to check out her blog. Happy reading!

KV: How often does a query intrigue you enough to request the manuscript?

LR: I keep track of all submissions in an excel spreadsheet, so I'm able to produce accurate statistics. I request partials for about 5% of queries.

KV: What are you looking for in a requested manuscript?

LR: When I request a full manuscript, I'm looking for it to continue along the same line the query and partial were on. If the partial had great character development and the plot was so interesting that I couldn't put it down, but this doesn't continue, I'll obviously reject it, no matter how good the partial was.

Specifically, I want to be moved in some way by a manuscript. This doesn't mean it has to be poignant. For romance, I want to fall in love with the hero; for mysteries, I want to become so involved in the plot and characters that I just have to read through until the end.

KV: What are some of the most common problems you see in the manuscripts you request?

LR: The most common problem with the manuscripts I read is characterization. The characters need to feel like real people. They need to speak like real people. For example, in middle-grade, if the main character is a ten-year-old boy he probably won't use words like "intrinsically" or "exasperate." I'll be really blown over, though, if an author creates a character that is so believably precocious that his large vocabulary actually seems real.

KV: When you come across a manuscript you really like/love, how do you decide whether to request revisions or offer representation?

LR: If I feel the book won't sell or work at all without the revisions, I won't offer and might instead request that the author revise. But if the book can be expected to work, but could be made even better with some revisions, I'll offer representation.

KV: When you do make that Call, you’re probably going to ask the writer if she has any questions. What sorts of questions should she ask?

LR: Every author is different and will have different needs, so this is a hard question to answer with a generalization. However, all authors need to do at least some marketing. Authors should be asking how they can use social networking to get the word out about their work, or how they can amp up their efforts. Readers love to hear information about an author right from that author's own website.

KV: And now for a few quick questions from the normal interview. What client work do you have coming out soon?

LR: I just signed a client about whom I'm so excited. Stacey Kennedy! She is a previously self-published author who has been her own champion for so long. It is obvious, in her body of work, that she is determined to keep striding and keep improving. She has grown so much from her first book to her next and is still writing, still learning and still championing.

KV: What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

LR: I think this drive was what drew me to Stacey, initially. She was willing to revise, to get better, to never get lazy and keep moving forward. And of course, what she'd already written was just great. As an incredible bonus, her website was top-notch.

An author's website is very important to her fan-base and readers have a need to connect to their favorite authors. Stacey has a great following, is ever-present on facebook and twitter, and her website hosts contests, frequent blog posts, etcetera. She has even developed a look-and-feel that has made a brand for her. She signs her e-mails with the same graphic of her name that is on her website, which is excellent.

KV: Is there something you haven’t been seeing lately in the slush pile that you wish you were? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?

LR: I'm up to my eyeballs in memoirs about author's childhoods. Unless that childhood was extraordinary, memoirs like this are not very marketable. I'm not seeing as much romance as I'd like. In my slush pile right now, there's a supernatural pirate romance I can't wait to get to.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

LR: I accept queries by e-mail only, and the word "query" should be present in the subject line so my spam watchdog doesn't eat the e-mail.

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?

LR: Most agents are not impressed when authors include a few pages at the bottom of the query. I don't find this assertive or obnoxious, but I do secretly (not a secret anymore) like when authors do this because if I'm on the fence about their query, their pages will tip me one way or the other.

Thanks again, Ms. Ruth, for all this helpful information. And good luck to everyone who decides to query.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m out!


Kelsey said...

Fabulous interview!

E.R. King said...

Great interview! Thanks Krista and Lauren!

Marybk said...

It's nice to meet Lauren. Thanks for another great interview, Krista!

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, Kelsey, E.R., and Marybk! As always, thanks for commenting!

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks for posting this link on Absolute Write, Krista. Great interview, thank you both!

Esther Vanderlaan said...

WOW. That was so interesting.

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, Petrea! I always try to post the links on AW, so keep an eye for them!

Good to hear from you, Esther!

Cassie Mae said...

Thank you for posting this! I idolize this agent and I always look forward to hearing what she has to say.

Krista V. said...

You're so welcome, Cassie Mae! I'm glad you wandered over.

Kelly Bryson said...

Oooh, what a great interview. I love an organized agent! And esp one who needs moer romance...I'm in!

Krista V. said...

Kelly, always happy to add another agent to your to-query list:)