Monday, December 10, 2012

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Jennie Goloboy

We’re starting the week off in grand fashion, with another interactive installment of “Interview with an Agent.” Today’s interview features Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary, who also posts regularly on her agency’s blog. Check out her answers to the blogging-agent questions, then meet me down at the bottom for details on the interactive part. Enjoy!

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

JG: My procedure is to request the first three chapters, and if I like those, I will request the full. I request the first three chapters for about one manuscript in ten, but I am much more stringent about requesting the full. I read everything that I request.

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

JG: I request the manuscript because the idea seems innovative and appealing, and because the query was well-written. I just did a whole series of blog posts at the Red Sofa website about queries I see too often, some of which surprised me! (Girls with magic necklaces?) At the moment, I'm especially interested in history that would appeal to a broad audience, and in innovative epic fantasy for adults. I particularly like funny manuscripts.

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

JG: One comment I frequently give to authors is that I didn't connect with the protagonist. I want to know your hero inside and out; I want your hero to have problems that I care about. I don't want your hero to be fate's hand puppet.

Also, your hero should almost never start the manuscript by waking up, unless he's waking up with a gun to the head.

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

JG: If I think it's not perfectly ready to go, in general, I'll request revisions first. I want to be sure that my clients react well to criticism, and can fix a manuscript according to editorial suggestions. If they don't, I'd prefer to find that out before I agree to represent them!

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?

JG: How do I fit in with your current clients? In general, where do you plan to send my book? I'm not going to tell you names of specific editors, but I'd be happy to discuss my  strategy.

KV: And now for a few quick questions from the normal interview. What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

JG: Unfortunately, that's still top-secret--please keep an eye on!

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?

JG: I've never been a big fan of dystopias (unless they're funny dystoptias), and I get a lot of them!

I never get enough truly funny manuscripts, and I would love to represent more non-fiction that isn't a memoir, or a thinly fictionalized memoir.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

JG: Send a query letter via e-mail to, please!

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?

JG: While I don't ask for it, it has often helped me quickly decide whether I like the writer's voice, which is very important to me. I think it's led to more quick rejections than requests.

Thank you, Ms. Goloboy, for these answers. Funny books are always on my radar, too:)

And here’s where you come in! If you have a question for Ms. Goloboy, feel free to leave it in the comments below. She’ll pop in a few times throughout the day to answer any questions she finds down there, leaving her answers in the comments also. We’ll wrap things up at 5:00 p.m. EST (or 2:00 p.m. PST), but until then, have at it!


Anonymous said...

Great interview, Krista! Hi Jennie, Red Sofa Literary looks to have been primarily a non-fiction agency before your arrival. How does that affect how you sell or market a book and will that impact the publishers you approach for fiction?

Jenilyn Collings said...

Thanks for the great interview! You mention liking funny books and I wondered if you could give some examples of your favorite funny books (or just your favorite books in general). Thanks!

Anonymous said...

With the holidays here, are you backed up on queries like most agents this time of year? Thanks in advance for any information you can give!

Jennie Goloboy said...

Hi there! Anonymous, Dawn at Red Sofa has represented YA for a while now (she particularly likes books with a gothic feel). So there really hasn't been an effect like you're talking about!

Jenilyn: I love Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore, Eva Ibbotson for fiction. For nonfiction, I'm a big fan of Merrill Markoe. I wish I could find more funny history-- right now Ben Wilson's book Decency & Disorder is making me smile.

In general, I don't like embarrassment humor, but jokes about people taking a logical premise to a ridiculous conclusion get me every time.

Jennie Goloboy said...

Re: backed up... I am so backed up right now. I promise I will get to everyone!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

One more question from me: What's your method for tackling your slush pile? Do you have an assistant who screens everything first? Do you use a maybe pile? No need to answer all of these questions, just whichever ones apply to you:)

Myrna Foster said...

If you're especially interested in historical and epic fantasy for adults, does that mean you'd be as interested in those genres for YA and MG as well?

Jennie Goloboy said...

Hi, Krista (and thanks for the chance to do this!) -- I read everything, and I don't have an assistant. If I'm undecided about a work-- say it's a really good query, but not something I'd usually represent-- I set it aside for a while until I know whether I'd like to request the full.

Myrna, yes I would be interested in these genres, but I warn you-- I'm extremely picky about the historicals I represent!

Myrna Foster said...

I would hope so! Thank you!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

I never officially closed this interactive interview, but I'm glad you all caught on:) Huge thanks to Ms. Goloboy and to all of you for your questions and comments. Hope you have a great holiday season!