Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Query Questions with Clelia Gore

Best news ever!  Clelia is joining the agents of Nightmare on Query Street! She 'll be making requests on October 25th!

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.


Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a new series of posts called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.

This one goes out to you picture book and New Adult writers, though Clelia does rep YA and MG! Meet new agent Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management. 

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?

 As a new agent, I am eager to build my client list, so I am reading everything right now!

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?

The query letter is a very important communication and it should be taken very seriously--as seriously as the manuscript you have written! Think of it as a way to get an agent's attention in a crowded room -- you want to be the one with the magnetism that gets that agent talking to you. To me, typos and grammatical errors are forgivable, but a query letter that is poorly worded, or doesn't flow well, or doesn't make total sense, is a red flag that the writing in the manuscript is not going to be up to snuff. You don't want to cast a cloud of doubt over the manuscript you have worked so hard on! 

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?

I always look at sample pages. 

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?

Nope -- I read everything myself! 

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?

Use your judgment. If you think the prologue is needed to represent your story, include it. Or if it will serve as a great hook, include it. If you don't think it advances the story told in the first ten pages or if you think it minimizes the "hook effect," don't include it. If the agent requests the full manuscript, make sure to draw his or her attention to the fact that there is a prologue if you took it out in the query email. 

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?

I am most interested in hearing about the manuscript, but would also like to know a little bit of personal information about the author. To me, the author is not severable from the book, so I think it's important to know about the author too. 

Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?

Authors who have a platform -- an online presence or exposure to the public in some capacity are more desirable to me.  It increases their marketability from both my perspective and a publisher's perspective. Although having a blog, twitter presence, etc. is not a requirement for me, it is something that I think is important and would look for.

Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive? 

I don't mind links to blogs, works, at all. As I've mentioned, to me, the author platform is important, and these are all elements of the platform. 

What themes are you sick of seeing?

Rhyming picture books. I think the modern picture book has moved forward from rhyming. 

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?

Right now, I'm really interested in alternative history YA or middle grade books. I am also really interested in the emerging New Adult genre--I would love to see a funny book about grad school. I went to law school and I think it's great fodder for comedy. I would also love to see a modern, creative spin on the detective whodunnit series that appeals to tween girls. 


It was when Clelia first read Charlotte's Web in the first grade that she got hooked by the magic of books. Her love of children's books carried through adulthood and she is delighted to dedicate her life to bringing quality books and stories to young (and whimsical adult!) readers.

Clelia is originally from New Jersey and lived in New York City for several years prior to moving to Seattle. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Boston College. She received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and practiced law as a corporate litigator in New York City.

In 2011, she decided to dedicate her career to books and reentered graduate school at Emerson College. In 2013, she received her master's degree in Publishing and Writing. While she was studying publishing and taking creative writing courses at Emerson, Clelia worked as a managing editorial intern in the children's book division at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Clelia also honed her editorial skills as an editorial intern at Oxford University Press. She also taught academic writing and research courses to freshman students at Emerson College.

In addition to reading YA and children's books, Clelia also likes to blog about them! You can read her musings and ruminations on rereading the books of her 90's youth at www.tweenat28.com.

Clelia is very interested in the emerging New Adult genre. Having faced an early life career crisis, she really relates to characters who are confronted with the challenges of entering adulthood. She is also interested in young adult and middle grade books. She is seeking to represent writers whose protagonists have strong voices and whose plots are original. Clelia never wants to let go of her favorite characters, so she particularly loves trilogies and series that can be adapted to the screen.

Clelia has a special spot in her heart for picture books. She especially loves ones that are funny or quirky, ones that feature minority and multi-cultural characters, and ones parents won't mind reading over and over again to their children.


  1. Michelle, this "query questions" series is so useful. Thanks for doing it, and great to meet Clelia this week.

  2. Thank you very much, Liz and Erika! So glad the series is useful.

  3. Thanks for the great post. I'm excited to see Clelia is joining Nightmare on Query Street; I wish I had my WIP NA ready for querying.