I've always liked reading blogs that interviewed agents and editors; the information gleaned taught me so much about writing and publishing. I thought I'd pay it forward for any aspiring writers out there by interviewing my own agent and editor. For today's post, I'm talking with my agent, Katherine Boyle, founder of Veritas Literary Agency.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I majored in English and Psychology in college, due to a compelling interest in what literature calls character and psychology calls personality or, more classically, psyche. After school I worked for several small presses and agencies in the Bay Area before establishing Veritas in 1995. The name means “truth,” of course, but I’ve always loved Emily Dickinson’s quote “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” Sometimes the deepest truth is found in fiction.
What genres do you represent?
There are two of us at the agency; Michael Carr represents the adult genre categories: thrillers, fantasy & sci fi. He also does a lot of women’s fiction, whereas most of the serious nonfiction titles are mine, which is not the standard assumption of authors who submit to us. I also handle most of the memoir, narrative nonfiction, MG and YA.
Where do you see the YA market heading in the next year or two?
I hate to make predictions because YA trends are so frustrating for authors; so many write good novels that just happen to be out of fashion or victims of a glutted marketplace. Personally I love nuanced stories with strong character development.
What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring writer?
Stay inspired by reading, and read as much as you can. Find a few critique partners who are working at your level and rigorously evaluate each other’s work. Send stories to some of the most competitive literary journals you know of, and keep stretching. Writing is not easy, and I commend everyone who has the patience to spend years perfecting their prose. That’s what it takes.
What kind of YA books are on your wish list? (What kind of projects would you love to receive a query for?)
I’m a sucker for an unusual voice and contemporary scenarios with just a hint or suggestion of the supernatural. I like realistic yet eerie stories, whether the dark element is coming from plot or something psychological.
How much time do you spend each week reading?
Around 30 hours.
How many queries do you get a week?
Hundreds, and during certain hectic periods we just can’t answer them all. I regret that, because I know how hard it is for authors.
How many new clients do you sign a year?
Somewhere between eight and ten. We never want more than we can reasonably develop at one time.
What turns you off in a query and what instantly draws you in?
Clichés, or any kind of hard sell turns me off. A beautifully written (not overwritten) query can charm me into asking for something that’s a little far afield.
What are your favorite YA novels (please say mine, please say mine, please say mine)?
Of course I love everything I’ve signed, including Lynn Lindquist’s The Secret of the Sevens, which was a bulls-eye in terms of personal taste. E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is one I read recently that blew me away.
What are the top three things a new author needs to know or do to survive in publishing?
Stay informed. The publishing world of today is very different from the scene a decade ago. I don’t encourage authors to chase trends, but it doesn’t serve you to write in a vacuum either. It all comes back to reading—read as much as you can.
Describe your typical day:
The first two hours usually go to urgent emails and calls, and in the remaining time before lunch I face rest of the email pile-up. Longer talks with authors and editors fall in the afternoon and, if I’m lucky, a block of time for submission and editing.
Thank you for your time, Katherine. As I've said a hundred times, you're the best!
Katherine Boyle can be found at www.veritasliterary.com.
Lynn Lindquist (Chicago, IL) lives with two overly social sons who provide fodder for her young adult novels and growing anxiety disorder. Her contemporary thriller Secret of the Sevens is set for release on June 8, 2015 from Flux Publishing. To learn more, follow Lynn on lynnlindquist.com or on Twitter at @LynnLindquist.