Over the summer, I attended the PNWA Summer Writers’ Conference in Seattle, and while I was there, I attended an agents’ forum in which author Bob Dugoni asked a panel of 23 literary agents what genres they’re accepting, what they like or don’t like to hear in a pitch (and, I assume, query letters), and more. These are the notes I took based on Dugoni’s interview with literary agents Rosanne Wells of JDLA, Patrick Kennedy of Second Sight Literary, and Gordon Warnock of Foreword Literary:
Rosanne Wells – She likes heists and con stories. She doesn’t like Christian inspiration, but she likes the sociology of religion. She doesn’t rep short stories. She likes cookbooks. She loves it when a book mixes genres or crosses genres. She said, “If you have 100,000 Twitter followers, maybe 10% of them will buy your book.” So platform isn’t everything.
Patrick Kennedy – He’s acquiring memoirs and practical, instructional nonfiction. He likes books that offer a media connection. He thinks a book needs a clear reason to exist. A lot of authors write on autopilot, but this can produce very bad books. So, he likes to see when an author makes their one shot (at impressing an agent) matter. He likes an author to be market –savvy, but not formulaic. Don’t tell me you’ve got the next Twilight or the next Hunger Games. He looks for passion in a query letter.
Gordon Warnock – He personally handles graphic novels for adults and YA’s. But at this conference, he was also seeking material for other agents at their agency. Michelle Richtor, formally of St. Martin’s Press, is now an agent with their agency. She does crime fiction and mysteries. Go to their website for details.
Of these three agents, I’m most familiar with Gordon Warnock, having pitched to him before and attended classes taught by him. What impressed me most at the 2013 PNWA conference was the fact that he had indomitable faith in his client, Tanya Chernov’s memoir, A Real Emotional Girl. Her book just wouldn’t sell and wouldn’t sell, and finally… it sold. But meanwhile, he kept plugging away, trying to sell her manuscript, and keeping Ms. Chernov positive. I was impressed by his diligence and his faith in his client, Tanya Chernov.