Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 13, 2016

Free Fall Friday – Interview with Jaida Temperly

jaida New Leaf LiteraryHow important is the query letter?

Incredibly important. This is not only what gives the agent an idea of what your story is about – genre, age group, etc. – but also your writing style.

Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

  • A good query letter is the first step. So make sure you’re including important details such as word count, comp titles, genre, etc.
  • Doing your research on my taste and current list. For example, if you know I’m looking for an Adult Literary novel with Art History undertones (I am), you can mention you saw that in a previous post/interview I did. Specificity helps you stand out!
  • Excellent writing. This is that ‘x’ factor that is less controllable. But I will immediately forgive a bad query and request the manuscript if the writing is good.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

It depends on what I’m looking for and the quality of the query. Sometimes it’s the first paragraph of the query; sometimes it’s the full sample pages.

Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?

Nope. That’s what copyediting is for!

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

For queries, I often see authors using comparative titles that don’t properly fit their work – or using comparative titles that are outliers (ex: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Rick Riordan, etc.). This tells me that you don’t know much about the market or are perhaps are trying to impress me with big titles.

Another mistake is querying multiple projects. Stick to your strengths and query with your best project. We can always discuss more manuscripts later.

Any pet peeves?

  • Querying me with multiple projects. Pick your strongest and go fro there!
  • Addressing me as Mr. Temperly (ha!)
  • Manuscripts that are clearly a genre I don’t rep.

But if you do your research, you’ll be fine! J

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?


Do you have an editorial style?

This really depends on the client and where the project is. For example, some clients prefer phone brainstorming and spitballing ideas early in the process; others receive editorial letters. It just depends.

What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?

Not sure what you’re asking here…?

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)?

This really depends on what’s being discussed. For example, if it’s just a quick note re: a submission response, that’s an easy and fast email. But if it’s to discuss a Marketing & Publicity plan with the publisher, where there are potentially many people involved, then a phone call is more efficient.

And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

This varies from agent to agent, but for me personally, I keep my clients updated as things happen. For example, they know when I’m meeting/calling editors to submit the manuscript, our strategy for submission, and the houses we’re submitting to. And then, as the responses come in, I forward them to the client (depending on how much they want to know).

What happens if you don’t sell this book? 

This depends on what the submission yielded in terms of feedback. For example, it could be the market is currently too saturated and it might be beneficial to wait a bit before going on a second submission. Or it could be that all the editors gave a similar note, which means a revision might be the best bet. Or perhaps we go out on a wider submission the second time around. It’s really specific to the project – but the big picture goal is strategy.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

Totally depends on the project! But it’s important to remember that “giving up” doesn’t necessarily mean putting the project away. There are lots of options post-submission, all of which should be discussed with your agent.

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

We have Foreign and Film in house 🙂 It’s pretty awesome.

Are you open to authors who work in multiple genres? 

Sure, as long as they’re focused on building themselves strategically and not trying to write multiple genres just to get published.


In the subject line, please write “May First Page Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be skipped over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: May 19th.

RESULTS: May 27th.

Please only submit one first page a month. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Talk tomorrow,


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