Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Query Questions with Lauren Spieller

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 series 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.

How about an interview from a brand-spanking new agent! This is a real opportunity as Lauren Spieller with TriadaUS has just started looking for clients. 

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query? 
I’d never hold a typo or two against someone, especially if the book sounds promising. That being said, your query is your first impression. Dress to impress!

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
I always look at sample pages, but I also read every single query. If you’ve written a concise and dynamic summary, I’ll read your pages with particular interest.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?
Nope. I read them all myself.
If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?
Yes. If your book can stand alone without the prologue, then you should rethink whether or not you actually need one.

How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query?
I find comp titles helpful, but they aren’t a necessity.

Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested?
The agents at TriadaUS regularly share queries we think are a better fit for another agent.

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?
I appreciate a personalized query. It shows me that the author has done their homework on what I’m looking for.

Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?
I agree—it doesn’t matter where the word count is, as long as you include it. But a query without a word count? That would make me nervous…

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?
I appreciate a unique title that shows the author is aware of the conventions in their genre, but a bad title isn’t a deal breaker. We can always come up with a new one together.
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 encourage writers to include links in their email signatures! It saves me the work of Googling them! ;)

What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?
Authors stress too much about this aspect of the query. Just include where you live and what you do for a living, plus maybe a hobby if it’s something you’re passionate about. I’d also be interested in hearing about any experience that’s relevant to your book. If you wrote a book about mountain climbing and you’ve been a climber for years, let me know!

What does ‘just not right' mean to you?
“Just not right” might mean the voice doesn’t speak to me, or perhaps the conflict isn’t as gripping as I’d like. I try to be specific when I reject a project, especially if I’ve read more than the sample pages.

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?
I’m very editorial. I worked as an editorial consultant for multiple years before I started agenting, so it’s a big part of my process. That being said, the author always has the final say. It’s their book, and they have to believe in every word of it.
What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
I’d love to see a funny, magical Middle Grade or a Middle Grade along the lines of BETTER NATE THAN EVER by Tim Federle, a high concept YA fantasy with a female friendship at the center, and a diverse contemporary Young Adult novel along the lines of ALL AMERICAN BOYS by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and THE HATE U GIVE by Angela Thomas.


Literary Agent Assistant Lauren Spieller comes to TriadaUS with a background in literary scouting and editorial consulting. She is seeking Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, as well as commercial Adult fiction. Whatever the age group or genre, Lauren welcomes diverse voices.

In MG, she’s drawn to heartfelt contemporaries, exciting adventures, contemporary fantasy, and magical realism. Some of her favorite recent novels include Rules for Stealing Stars, George, My Seventh-Grade Life In TightsThe Seventh Wish, and Rooftoppers. In YA, she’d love to find authentic teen voices in any genre. Her recent favorites include Dumplin’, Scorpio Races, Since You’ve Been Gone, Feed, The Lunar Chronicles, Six of Crows, and Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

In Adult, Lauren is seeking commercial fiction, particularly twisted thrillers in the vein of Lauren Beukes and Gillian Flynn, and immersive fantasies, such as The Night Circus, The Miniaturist, The Rook, and A Darker Shade of Magic. She is also interested in Women’s Fiction and pop-culture non-fiction.