Thursday, December 5, 2013

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Clelia Gore

Today's INTERACTIVE installment of "Interview with an Agent" features Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management. Details on the interactive part are at the bottom, so enjoy Ms. Gore's answers to the usual questions, then meet us down there!

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

CG: I am a new agent with experience in both the publishing and legal worlds. I used to work as an attorney in New York City and then switched over to publishing by earning my master's degree in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College and working at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Oxford University Press. Being an agent seemed like a natural choice for me, considering my legal skills and literary interests. It also happens to be a lot more fun than being a lawyer:)

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

CG: My goal as an agent is always to bring quality books to children and young adults. I'd like to do so by operating with kindness, respect, and professionalism. I like clients to be communicative, responsive, open to suggestions, patient and optimistic. 

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

CG: As a new agent, I have just acquired my first clients and hopefully will have upcoming works to announce in the very near future. Martin Literary Management previously specialized only in adult non-fiction books, but has represented some young adult non-fiction books, including The Pregnancy Project (Simon and Schuster, 2012), which was also made into a Lifetime movie. 

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

CG: Everything under the children's book umbrella from baby board books to young adult novels. I am interested in both children's fiction and non-fiction. I won't be taking any adult book writers as clients and I am not usually interested in romance novels. Although I like books with fantastical elements, I would say that I usually am drawn more to "fantasy-lite" than hardcore fantasy or sci-fi. 

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

CG: The query letter really is an important piece of writing--you should be putting your best foot forward. Make sure your query is cohesive and coherent. To me, a query letter that is not well written is a pretty good signal that the sample of work below is not going to work for me. I do like to hear a little about the author, but I am most interested in the summarizing pitch. It's also important to write who your audience is--young adult, middle grade, etc.

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

CG: I am open to just about anything, but my favorite genre is middle grade--it's the genre that I first fell in love with as a kid, and that love never left me! I am particularly interested in illustrated middle grade where there is interplay between the text and the illustrations. I also love anything that involves history, across all genres. I love picture book biographies, particularly about less known but very interesting people in history. I would love to see books featuring ethnically diverse characters where their ethnicity is not the focus of the plot. I also like picture books that are a little quirky that have appeal to both kids and adults. Anything with series potential is interesting to me--as a kid (and as an adult too!), I liked to develop a long term relationship with my favorite characters and see them through many adventures. For young adult, I'm looking for voice-driven books and memorable characters. The plot is secondary for me! 

I think there are a number of trends that have played out and currently pose challenges to sell--I would say editors have probably seen many YA books where the protagonist discovers he or she has some sort of magic or supernatural power, and would be less inclined to want to publish those. Also, I am generally wary of rhyming picture books, as I think the modern picture book has evolved from rhyming.  

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

CG: Please send queries to me via email at You can find my submission instructions regarding particular kinds of books here:

Thank you, Ms. Gore, for these responses. It sounds like you and I have very similar tastes:)

And now for the main event! If you have a question for Ms. Gore, feel free to leave it in the comments below. She'll pop in several times throughout the day and leave her responses in the comments as well. You have until 7:00 p.m. EST (or 4:00 p.m. PST), so don't dilly-dally!


Jessie Oliveros said...

Some agents don't like to be queried more than one book at once. What are your thoughts on that in general? And more specifically, would you be averse to being queried a middle-grade novel along with a picture book text?

Clelia Gore said...

Hi Jessie, Thanks for your question! I think different agents will have different answers. I personally like to see just one work at a time, but if you would like to pitch multiple, I'd like to see them all in the same email. My email box is already so full of queries, it can be overwhelming! I don't mind seeing a MG manuscript with a PB one.

Eric Steinberg said...

Hi Ms. Gore! Quick question. How do you feel about light sci-fi?

(thanks Krista for these always informative interviews.)

Clelia Gore said...

Hi Eric! A good question! As far as my personal tastes go, I have always been more drawn to reality-based stories. That being said, I do have lots of love for fantasy and sci-fi, but I generally gravitate towards "light" versions. I can't give you an exact definition of what sci-fi or fantasy-light means--but I would say that there are still reality-based elements in the story. Just a personal preference! And yes, thanks to Krista!

Zachary Gephardt said...

Hi Ms. Gore,
How important is it to you that an author submitting to you has a platform? What would you consider a successful platform for an author working on their first or second manuscript? Thank you for your time.

Clelia Gore said...

Hi Zachary -- another great question! I would say that it is very important. Anything that an author can do to show that he or she is a great self-marketer and/or has a built-in fandom is great and always looked upon favorably by both agents and publishers! I would say start with creating an author website or blog, and be active on social media -- Twitter is fun! Anything you can do to establish yourself as a writer with a following is helpful -- give talks, host local events, etc. Hope that helps!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thank you, Clelia, for spending the day with us. And thank you, Jessie, Eric, and Zachary, for your questions.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I appreciate this informative interview, Krista. Many thanks to both you and Ms. Gore!

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks! I love finding agents who represent PBs and YA.

Karen Clayton said...

Thanks for your posts with agents. It helps me keep up with what is current.