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 Lara Perkins (of Andrea Brown Literary Agency), Rita Rosencranz, and Rachel Letofsky (of The Cooke Agency):
Lara Perkins – She represents everything from picture books to YA. She has an art background, so she loves dealing with authors who are also illustrators. She likes voice-driven, character-driven books. In a pitch, she wants to know what the stakes are for your character, even in a picture book. What are you doing that’s unique? She likes to see your enthusiasm and passion in your query/pitch. In her mind, middle grade literature is about what’s happening with your friends and family, whereas young adult works are about where the character fits in the real world. You need to know your genre and where your book fits.
Rita Rosencranz – She looks for familiar topics presented freshly. She has published about seven titles through the PNWA conference. When you pitch or query her, make it clear how your book is different and better than the competition in the marketplace. You need a platform that’s tied to your book.
I had the honor of eating lunch with my own agent and a number of her agent acquaintances at the 2013 PNWA conference. Among them was Ms. Rosencranz, who carries herself like a fashion model, even among her friends. Every time I’ve seen her at the PNWA conference, she’s dressed to the nines, and her speech is always eloquent. It’s no wonder she’s so sought after as a literary agent!
Rachel Letofsky – Did you know The Cooke Agency, where Letofsky works, is Canada’s second largest literary agency? They take a team-approach at their agency. She will pass a book along to a colleague, if she thinks it will appeal to them. She’s looking for YA/MG. After authors pitch to her at a conference, she often asks, “What was your inspiration?” She likes authors to tell the story behind the story.
Personally, I don’t know much about Rachel Letofsky, but Sally Harding, who also works for The Cooke Agency, has taught classes at the PNWA conference. When I attended Harding’s classes in years passed, I was most impressed with her honesty and profound knowledge of the publishing industry.