Friday, October 24, 2014

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Julie Gwinn

I'm pleased to welcome Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency to the blog for this INTERACTIVE installment of "Interview with an Agent." As always, details on the interactive part are at the bottom of this post, so check out Ms. Gwinn's answers to the usual questions, then get ready to leave a question of your own.

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

JG: I have been agenting full-time since July. I have been involved in the publishing industry for more than a decade, as a trade book marketing manager, editor and finally as fiction publisher. After the fiction line was shut down at my previous publisher, I began working freelance to help edit, consult and manage authors and their projects. My transition to agenting seemed to happen organically from the consulting business.

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

JG: My agenting philosophy is a holistic approach. Since my background encompasses marketing, editing and publishing, I like to work with the author on marketing, developing their platform, content development and ultimately, evaluating their options (digital and print) as they enter into a publishing agreement.

I expect open and honest communication and setting clear expectations at the onset of the working relationship.

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

JG: Author Pepper Basham has a fiction novel coming out next year titled Twist of Faith that is contemporary women's fiction. I have known Pepper for three years when she pitched to me at a writer's conference. I saw a great writing style, an openness to learn and an eagerness to self-promote. Her novels are funny, witty, engaging and very romantic.

Three non-fiction books by author and professional ballerina Sarah Marr are also coming out next year and use her life in professional dance as a metaphor for life lessons. I've known Sarah for a while as well and love her voice and freshness as she speaks into the busyness of life.

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

JG: I represent all romance (contemporary and historical and romantic suspense), speculative, fantasy, straight suspense, true crime, YA and NA and some non-fiction. 

I do not represent horror as this is not a genre I read and so I'm not familiar with what makes a great horror novel.

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

JG: Pet peeves are typos or bad grammar; having a synopsis that does not match the content; queries before the manuscript is complete; saying the novel will appeal to everyone. 

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

JG: I would love to see great romance with smart, witty banter (either contemporary or historical). I would like to see smart suspense that leaves me questioning 'who dun it' until the end. Cozy mysteries. Sports romance. Military. Unique ideas or plots with twists.

I've seen a lot of dystopian, angels and demons, novels where the protagonist suffers from multiple issues (alcoholism, bulimia, abuse, homelessness).

KV: What's the best way to query you?


Thank you, Ms. Gwinn, for these responses. The genres you listed are some of my favorites, too, so I hope you find a bunch of new clients shortly.

And now for the main event! If you have a question for Ms. Gwinn, feel free to leave it in the comments of this post. She'll drop in periodically and respond to those questions, leaving her answers in the comments also. We'll wrap everything up at 5:00 p.m. EDT (or 2:00 p.m. PDT), but until then, ask away!

22 comments:

Julie Gwinn said...

Good morning! Looking forward to answering your questions about finding an agent!

author101 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane said...

How long is your usual response time after requesting a full?

author101 said...

Do typical agents usually offer representation if a manuscript has grammatical errors? Will they look pass that to see the potential of a good story?

Julie Gwinn said...

After an agent requests a full it can take up to a month or so for them to respond to you. They are not only reading the manuscript they are doing market research (comparable titles, potential sales, what is trending).

Julie Laney said...

Hi Julie!

This is so neat that you're on here today. I loved reading your responses and can't believe I came across this interview today!

I am so glad to see that you take a hands-on approach with guiding marketing and content development. I love that you encourage your authors to promote their books as much as possible, too. That is something I'm anxious to do!

I am so looking forward to talking with you soon. Just give me a call when you get a chance, and I'll get the contract in the mail to you. Hope all is well!

Julie Gwinn said...

I would like to say that typos or bad grammar doesn't bother me, but as an agent, I always do a macro edit and if the manuscript is rough, it means it requires more time from me to get it ready and unfortunately I don't have the time to do macro and line and copy edit on a ms.

Julie Gwinn said...

Julie, calling you is on my to do list! Looking forward to working together. Maybe you can chime in on how to select an agent?

Krista Van Dolzer said...

One more question from the Krista gallery: do you usually respond to every query or just the ones you're interested in, and what's your approximate response time?

Kristin Márie said...

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.

Should authors include their blog and/or twitter handle in a query or signature? Is it something you'd look to for personality or writing style?

So many different websites offer advice on the "perfect" query and many are conflicting. What do you look for in a query personally.

Thank you again and I look forward to sharing my query with you very soon.

Derrick Oblitey Mensah said...

I am a Christian who writes, but not necessarily a Christian writer. I am also an African American male trying to break into mainstream writing.

I was informed at a recent writers group I would be better off seeking an agent from England rather than attempting to get one in the States. Does an agents location matter anymore? I have been informed an agent and the writer barely associate in person anymore. Thank you in advance

Anonymous said...

I recently sent my MS to an agent. While waiting for a response I overlooked my body of work and noticed there were some, not many mistakes. I since then corrected them. Should I notify the agent of this or wait until they respond. I'm fearful my mistakes my hurt my chances. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Myrna Foster said...

Thank you for answering questions!

Would you mind sharing which publishing houses you've worked with?

Also, what kind of MG and YA are you most interested in?

Julie Laney said...

In response to Mrs. Gwinn's invitation to share what I looked for when selecting an agent, I think it's important to find someone who is as excited about your work as you are!

Of course, there are many things to consider, but a few for me were finding someone who's honest, pleasant to work with, hands-on, and committed to helping me establish a lasting career as an author. I'm so excited about the opportunity to work with Mrs. Gwinn and learn from her experience!

Thanks to everyone who has posted...it has been an enjoyable read throughout my day!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

And that's all the time we have for questions! Ms. Gwinn will be back later to answer the remaining questions, but if any others pop up in the meantime, I will delete them.

Thank you to Ms. Gwinn for spending the day with us. And thanks to everyone for your questions!

Julie Gwinn said...

Krista,
I do respond to every query. As they come in they go in a proposal folder to be read. I then go through and do a first read. Usually I can tell then if it's a no, yes or maybe. The yes proposals I ask for full ms. The maybe ones I'll wait a couple of days and reread to decide. I try to respond in a few weeks. If I read the whole ms it's two months or so

Julie Gwinn said...

I do research the author so having the twitter or FB or Pinterest links is helpful. It gives me an insight into their social networking skills and how they write in a variety of formats.

Julie Gwinn said...

Anonymous, I would wait and when the agent responds (no matter their response) I would email back and let them know that you are constantly striving to hone your craft and improve and in looking over the manuscript, found some things you changed. And then ask them if they would like you to send the newer version.

Julie Gwinn said...

Dear Derrick, I have never seen where race or gender matter for the author or the agent! It has to do with the quality of the story, the need in the marketplace and the author's platform. As far as using an agent in the UK, the publishing industry here is very different from publishing over there. I would carefully research and make sure the agent has contacts with US editors at the major publishers.

Julie Gwinn said...

Myrna, I was fiction publisher at B&H and also worked at Abingdon. While my decade of experience is in the Christian publishing industry, all but 2 or 3 are now part of major NY publishers. So I have contacts at all major and secondary publishers. And am constantly watching for new publishers popping up.

Julie Gwinn said...

for MG I am looking for anything with animals, friendships and perseverance. For YA I like showing children in non-traditional gender roles (girls as leaders, boys as compassionate), humor (I have teens and their stories crack me up), mystery and romance.

Myrna Foster said...

Thank you for answering my questions so thoroughly.