Friday, May 9, 2014

Interview with an Agent: Renee Nyen

I've got another great interview for you, this one with Renee Nyen of kt literary! As you're about to see, she started out as Kate's assistant and has recently started taking on clients of her own. I think you're going to find a lot to like about Ms. Nyen.

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

RN: I have been with kt literary since January of 2013. I worked in publishing for a few years, but most importantly, I stalked Kate Testerman (@DaphneUn) on Twitter for about eighteen months before I e-mailed her begging for any reading she could throw my way. Apparently, she liked something about me and hired me. Agenting has completely surprised me. I didn't expect to love it as much as I do.

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

RN: My agenting and life philosophies are the same: be passionate. I want to represent a story that started as an unquenchable fire in someone's belly. I want to read the story you can't shake. The voice that follows you around. If you're excited about your manuscript, I'm more likely to be enthusiastic, too.

KV: I know you're just starting out, so you probably don't have any client work coming out soon, but what about kt literary caught your attention? Was there a specific client or book you were especially excited to work with?

RN: I've been a huge fan of Maureen Johnson for years. She's so unique. She doesn't apologize for who she is and what she writes. I have so much respect for her. As a person and a writer.

One of our more recent agency acquisitions is Marisa Reichardt's work. It takes a lot to reduce Kate and I to tears, but she managed to do so. I think she has a long, wonderful career in front of her.

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

RN: I represent primarily YA and MG. I've always read these genres so it is what I'm most comfortable representing.

Honestly, I'm never going to represent erotica. No matter how things go in my life, I don't see myself loving an erotica story so much that I try to sell it. And I've read a few. I. Have. Tried.

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

RN: I'll share two. May I share two?

I'm really not into prologues. They detract from the story's momentum. I want to instantly connect with your main character. Prologues tend to feel like throw-away words--especially if the main character doesn't make an appearance. I know some genres (high fantasy, specifically) use them often, and if you can't part with your prologue, I understand, but it is a hang-up for me.

The other immediate turn-off for me is too much general language in your query letter. Judith's story is one of insurmountable odds, the meaning of life, the search for acceptance. It is an ode to overwhelming hope, devastating loss, friendship and self-discovery. This tells me nothing unique about your book or your characters.

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

RN: More than any specific genre, I love manuscripts that immediately capture me. For me, writing and characters transcend genre.

That said, I'd love to see historical YA about a lesser-known time in history. And if anyone out there has a space pirate story, it would jump to the front of my reading queue. Immediately. I mean, who doesn't love the Mal Reynolds kind of hero? I need more Mal in my life.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

RN: Feel free to e-mail me at reneequery(at)ktliterary(dot)com. For more detailed information, here's a link to our submissions page.

Thanks again, Ms. Nyen, for these answers. And if you ever find that space pirate story, do let me know:)

Have a great weekend, all!


Leandra Wallace said...

Great interview, ladies! I hope somebody does send in that space pirates book- I wanna read it! =)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for stopping by, Leandra!

Karen Clayton said...

Thanks for the interview. I really do enjoy seeing what agents like or dislike.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

My pleasure, Karen!

Anonymous said...

Love the interview!! It's always nice to get a peek at the person behind the job.

Lee McCormick, Author, St. Louis, Missouri, said...


Appreciate the interview with Renee, and insights into KT Literary Agency. This provides the "proper" information to query Renee about my first YA book, "Mitch Moran: Uncovering Secrets of the Dead," that is first in a series entitled, "Middle School Adventures."

Best regards, Leighton McCormick

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Happy to hear it, Leighton. Good luck with your query! (Speaking of which, I have one question: if the series is called "Middle School Adventures," might the book be more accurately categorized as MG?)