(Read the first installment HERE.)
AUTHORESS: I’ll be honest. The name “Josh Getzler” wasn’t on my radar until the illustrious Dan Lazar of Writers House, in declining my invitation to be a Secret Agent, recommended I invite his colleague, Josh Getzler. Which I did. And subsequently received the fastest and most enthusiastic response imaginable. SIX MINUTES after I sent the email.
His opening line? “Sure, I’ll play!” I liked him immediately.
Once the contest had wrapped up, Josh surprised me by asking the following: “BTW—what were your favorites (if you read them all)? Did any of my choices surprise you?” Honestly, I’ve had wonderful experiences with many of my Secret Agents over the last two years, but Josh’s question displayed a level of graciousness and humility that made me smile.
Seriously. An agent asking me what I thought? It was so…human.
His name wasn’t on my List, though. You know how we get ideas in our heads? In mine, Josh was a “nice guy who reps adult mysteries and a bit of YA.” And that was that.
JOSH: So, I met the Divine Ms. A around a year and a half go when she asked me to be one of her Secret Agents and evaluate a bunch of 250-word partials from her readers (and what an amazing, loyal, interested and interesting group you are!). I looked at 36 beginnings, mostly of middle grade or young adult novels, and ended up signing the winner, Elissa Cruz, after reading the rest of her marvelous middle grade mystery.
I kept in occasional touch with Authoress, read the blog, and moved agencies from Writers House to Russell and Volkening a year ago November. You can read Elissa's interview with me, where I give my background (and a bit more info…), HERE.
When I began taking on my own clients in the Spring of 2008, I expected that the vast majority of my work would be in adult crime fiction. All kinds--procedurals, thrillers, cozies, historicals. Didn't matter. I specialized in these when I began at Writers House, but in the end only around half my books are crime fiction. I quickly discovered the appeal of commercial and literary fiction (which I'd worked on at Harcourt), but what I hadn't anticipated was the incredible creativity going on in the world of children's literature. Not just in the more obvious ways--Harry, Twilight, Wimpy Kid. But the real eye-opener came to me when everyone in my Writers House office started to talk about Hunger Games. And also because I began to see that the young adult and middle grade submissions I was getting frequently were more interesting and creative than the different variations on Jack Reacher and the DaVinci Code I was getting on the adult side.
So when I moved over to R and V after three fascinating years at WH, I was ready to expand my list to edgy and creative children's books.
Russell and Volkening has been around for 70 years, and represents such luminaries as Eudora Welty, Nadine Gordimer, George Plimpton, Anne Tyler, and Barbara Tuchman. When I joined, I had to convince the folks there that I was literary enough for them--quite a change from Writers House, where I needed to show I could be commercial! What you might notice about the list above is that many of the authors are either not living or not writing as much as they used to. Part of my job when I joined was to add a bit of vigor to the front list of books. The other agents have supported my aggressiveness in signing new clients, and I have been able to expand both my list and my sales over the course of the past year.
Which brings me to Authoress, and to why I'm writing this post with her. Six months or so ago, I received an email query from someone I didn't know. The first line introduced herself to me as Authoress and said "ok, you've been willing to read manuscripts by my blog readers, how about my own?" (Editor's note: Poetic license. I didn't say it quite like that! :P) It was a dystopian YA novel--right in the wheelhouse of my new list. I was excited and ready to read. And then...I got crazy busy and took a VERY long time to get back to her.
AUTHORESS: Really, it wasn’t THAT bad! I queried Josh in June of last year after I discovered he’d moved to Russell and Volkening. My query was already on the desk of someone at Writers House, so I was happy for the unexpected opportunity to send it to Josh. And he asked for the full the next day.
His request carried quite the caveat, though: He pointed out that he was “wickedly picky” about dystopians.
Um. “Wickedly picky” about the novel that had already garnered a colorful list of reasons-for-rejection? It didn’t bode well. Still, I trusted his response would be personal and detailed regardless of whether it was a “yes” or a “no.” Because that’s the way he is.
Turns out it was a “maybe.”
(to be continued)