Week #2 Celebration: yeah, I'm still celebrating the fact that I signed with my awesome agent. To help me celebrate, my lovely agent, Jessica Regel with the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency has agreed to do a Q & A for our readers here at Sisters in Scribe. She will also answer any questions you have in the comments section until 3pm ET today.
Q & A with Jessica Regel:
1) Hi Jessica--thanks so much for visiting our blog today! Let's jump right into the questions. How did you first get into agenting?
I always knew that I wanted to work with books, but I didn’t want to be a writer or an English teacher. In the back of my mind I saw myself opening up my own bookstore someday, but, in the meantime I was getting my undergrad in English Lit and working at my local library. One day, I shelved “The Guide to Literary Agents”. I had no idea what a literary agent was. After doing some research, it sounded like a dream job to me. I sent my resume out to a number of New York agencies and was offered a summer internship at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, which later turned into a full time job. I’ve been at JVNLA ever since and it really is my dream job!
2) I think many writers believe it helps to have a connection in the industry. As someone who was picked from your slush pile, can you share what catches your eye in a query and makes you request pages?
Connections don’t hurt—I always love getting referrals from friends, family, colleagues, because you never know where you’re going to find talented writers. However, that said, about 90% of my authors I found through the slush pile. Authors can go to our website at www.jvnla.com to find out how to submit a query to me. I do personally read all queries emailed to me.
There are three things I ask myself when I read a query:
1) Is it a genre that I represent? At the moment, I’m actively looking for more young adult and middle grade books, so anything that is pitched to me in those genres I’ll pay special attention too. However, I also represent women’s fiction and a select list of non-fiction. You can go to www.jvnla.com to read more about the genres I represent.
2) Is this story/concept/character unique?
3) Do I like the writing style?
If the answer is yes to all those questions I will request materials. The final thing that can garb my attention, but isn’t necessary if I answered yes to all of the above, is the author’s bio. If the author has a really fantastic bio (MFA, awards, publishing history, etc.) then I’ll generally request more materials.
3) What are you seeing too much of right now? Is there anything on your wish list that you’d like to come across?
I still see a lot of stories about vampires, zombies, demons and angels… a lot of general paranormal that sounds too similar to books that have already been published.
I’d love to see more magical realism, more gothic, more creepiness, more suspense. For example, I loved Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I’d love to find the YA Sarah Waters. I’m also interested in taking on more contemporary stories with unique takes, such as something like 13 Reasons Why or The Hate List. Finally, I’m also on the hunt for good tear-jerkers and modern love stories.
4) Can you tell us about something coming out from one of your clients that you’re really excited about?
These are my babies, so I can never chose just one!
One book that comes out this February that I’m really excited about is Kate Kae Myers’ Vanishing Games. When I mentioned about, that I’d love to see more “Creepiness”, Kate hits this on the money. The Vanishing Games is a suspense that reminds me a lot of Lois Duncan.
Another book which comes out in February is The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, which is a beautifully written coming-of-age. This book has already gotten some great blurbs from Curtis Sittenfeld and Sarah Waters—and three starred reviews so far!
Finally, two books that came out just recently is an early chapter book series by Cecilia Galante called Little Wings: Willa Bean’s Cloud Dreams and Be Brave, Willa Bean. I don’t typically represent this young of an age group (my middle grade list is generally grades 4-6), but Cecilia’s series was too sweet to pass up. It’s about a little cupid angel with a ton of freckles, big curly hair, and an adorable personality.
5) What is your personal agenting style?
I would say that my personal style is hands on. I don’t like drama, so I always try to make things go as smoothly as possible from day one. That said, I like my authors (and the editors that I work with) to feel really comfortable with me, so that when problems arise (as they tend to do), they can come to me and we can figure out the best approach to fix the problem. I’m an optimist. I also like to keep things moving—there’s no time to waste!—so I work hard to get things done as quickly as possible. I’m not a big phone-chatter (though my authors are always welcome to call me). I’m a workaholic, so I’m constantly online and my smart phone is always with me. A lot of my authors text me throughout the day, which I’m absolutely fine with. Typically I like to do a round of edits a on manuscript before submitting out to editors, just to make sure that the manuscript is in tip-top shape. And then, I keep my author’s in the loop as things progress.
At JVNLA we really consider our authors part of our “team.” It’s a partnership and every agent at JVNLA is collaborative, meaning that we all work together to promote our authors in every way that we possibly can.
6) And finally, tell us something random about you.
I have three sisters that I am really close to, so I’m always interested in books that deal with the relationship between sisters. If you also like sister stories you should check out my author Jillian Cantor’s book, The September Sisters. It’s a real tear-jerker!
Have a question for Jessica? Leave it in the comments before 3pm ET today. See you next week for the Week #3 celebration!