Friday, September 20, 2013

Interview with an Agent: Shannon Hassan

I'm pleased to welcome Shannon Hassan of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency to the blog. She's one of the newer agents at Marsal Lyon, so you might not have heard of her. I hope this interview serves as a worthy introduction. Enjoy!

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

SH: I am a relatively new agent but have worked in publishing and law for more than a decade.  Having served as both an acquisitions editor and a corporate/licensing attorney in New York, becoming an agent was a natural progression and a great combination of my skills and passion.  I am so pleased to have joined Marsal Lyon and couldn’t be happier with the agency and its approach to helping writers achieve their publishing goals.

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

SH: I believe the author/agent relationship should be a true collaboration with open lines of communication.  With respect to edits, I am pretty direct and will let an author know if I feel that something isn’t working in the manuscript and help brainstorm ways to improve it.  With respect to submissions, I feel it is important to keep authors very much in the loop with where the manuscript is and how editors are reacting.  In general I see it as a long-term relationship that goes both ways.

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

SH: I was drawn to Kita Murdock’s middle grade novel, FUTURE FLASH (Skyhorse, June 2014), due to its charming characters, vivid prose, and fast-moving storyline.  I took an instant liking to both the project and its lovely author, but knew I had a winner when I gave the manuscript to my nine-year-old daughter and she read it one sitting!

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

SH: I represent authors of literary and commercial fiction, young adult fiction, and select nonfiction.  With respect to fiction: I am drawn to fresh voices, compelling characters, and crisp prose.

For nonfiction: I am interested in memoirists with exceptional stories to tell, as well as authors with a strong platform in current affairs, history, education, or law.
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

SH: Pitches that contain too much puffery, or are too vague about an author’s credentials, sometimes put me off.  I enjoy working with both debut and experienced authors.

KV: Your agency's website specifies that writers should only include a query letter in their initial electronic submission, but several respected industry sites have advised writers to include a few sample pages at the bottom of every query, whether the agent asked for them or not.  So if a writer goes ahead and adds those pages, do you find that more assertive or obnoxious?

SH: It wouldn’t really bother me, but as a general policy, I think it makes sense to try to follow each agency’s preferences if possible.  I’ll also note that if we have requested pages from an author, we do try to give a more personalized response, and there isn’t time to do that with every initial query.

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

SH: Superb writing in the genres I described in question #4!!

I do have one niche interest due to living in Boulder, Colorado: I am eager to hear from authors with a unique perspective on the New West.

And while I have not grown tired of anything in particular, it is obvious to me when someone is writing to fit a trend instead of writing from the heart.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

SH: I look forward to receiving queries at:

Thanks very much for the interview, Krista!

And thank you, Shannon, for answering my questions. I hope your next client is reading this interview right...NOW! :)

Have a great weekend, guys! *dives back into revisions*


Mother in Zion said...

Great interview. You guys make me want to jump back into queryland so badly...maybe I will after a few more months of editing.

GSMarlene said...

Enjoyed this interview even though Shannon doesn't rep my current age group. I hope she didn't have too much difficulties with the crazy floods in Boulder and No CO!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

I know the feeling, SammyStewart--I always want to have something out there, too. But good for you for being patient and taking your time with those edits. I have to believe that kind of attitude will pay dividends in the long run.

I hope so, too, GSMarlene! (And thanks for commenting!)

Heather said...

I love these interviews! Thanks for doing them.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

I'm glad you find them helpful, Heather!