Tuesday, November 25, 2008

GumbWriters Interview with Literary Agent, Jennifer Flannery from Flannery Literary

How long have you been agent and how did you get your start Jennifer?I started in the publishing industry in 1989 and, through a series of wondrous miracles and soul-crushing debacles I can't quite verbalize, started my own agency in October 1992.

What makes your agency different than any others? I only handle authors who write for children and young adult, I'm small and hands-on, and I'm based in the Midwest. I'm also a mother, raising a small reader, and I am someone who remembers the books I read in 3rd and 4th grade with much more emotional immediacy than the book that is on my bedside table. I truly, honestly, genuinely, sincerely believe that one of the most important things a person can do with his or her life is to work to put a book in the hand of a child.

What are you looking for specifically that you wish you would see more of? A manuscript with a truly great VOICE. After a while, you start to feel like you've read EVERY idea at least 12 times, so what I look for, what I long for, what I crave, is that great voice that tells a story in a way I've never heard before. The right voice and an original perspective makes everything new and fresh and original and thrilling. 

Jennifer what are you tired of receiving? Orphan wizards in boarding school books  It's. Been. Done. Also, kids who are reluctantly displaced and stumble upon an adventure.  Picture books that teach a lesson.

How can a new writer get your attention in a good way? A crisp and to-the-point letter that lets me know you know your way around words and can tell a good tale.

How can a signed writer stay in your radar without driving you insane? I will ALWAYS let you know if I hear anything from a publisher.  Keep writing. Work on the NEXT book while I try to sell the LAST book. Keep in touch, of course, call with questions, but no news just means there's no news.

What do you wish more writers understood about you as an agent Jennifer that they don't seem to? That everyone in this industry is genuinely looking for the next great story. And that means we get A LOT of submissions, so it takes a while for us to read. We're NOT sitting on things and we (probably) haven't lost them--we are drowning (in a good way) in paper and details and information and we are making our way through our reading lists just as quickly and efficiently as we can.  Please be patient.

What's the best way for a writer to reach you? A query letter with an SASE--short, succinct, well written, engrossing.
I am ALWAYS on the lookout for new writers. No matter how tight the market is, no matter how brutal the competition, no matter how dismal the economy, there will, I believe, always be room for a well-written book that captures a child's interest.