Agent Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management is June’s Featured Agent and will review four first pages at the end of the month. Check back next Friday to read the four winners.
In the most general terms, she represents:
- Picture books, including baby books (both from authors and author-illustrators)
- Middle grade fiction and nonfiction, including early readers and chapter books
- Young adult fiction and nonfiction
Clelia has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Boston College. She received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and practiced law as a corporate litigator in New York City.
HERE’S CLELIA’S INTERVIEW:
How important is the query letter?
Very! Think of it as a sales document and the key to getting past a very important gatekeeper. It should be meticulously and knowledgeably prepared.
Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?
Importantly, follow the instructions of each agent or agency. These tailored instructions are in place to help make the volume of queries we receive manageable. You don’t want your query to be passed on for a reason that has nothing to do with the quality of your writing. Make sure your query is very professional, succinct and proofread. When preparing it, keep in mind that this is a sales pitch and you are trying to persuade the agent to be intrigued and to fall in love with your work. Your goal is to show the agent that you are a serious writer, and not just a dabbler.
How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?
It depends. Sometimes I know right away that I am not interested based on the genre or writing style. I usually read to the bottom of the query, but don’t always read sample writing if I don’t like the query. With sample writing, I’ll read until I get a sense of whether it’s for me or not. If I’ve made it to the bottom of the sample writing, I’ll probably ask for more.
Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?
I’m pretty forgiving about that because I know it happens to the best of us (me included!), but if these types of issues appear throughout the query, to me that’s a sign that this is not a query from a serious writer.
Do you let people know if you are not interested in what was sent?
Our agency sends a standard rejection email, usually within a few weeks of a sent query.
Any pet peeves?
Most of the above. And being called Celia in the greeting–that’s not my name.
Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?
Yes, absolutely. We work together to develop the manuscript into tip top shape before we submit to publishers.
Do you have an editorial style?
I’m collaborative with the authors, I don’t like to bulldoze their vision, but I do make my case for things I feel strongly about. I really enjoy the editing process and I find my authors are always happy with the end result.
How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?
I communicate primarily via email, but jump on the phone when it feels more appropriate. I provide my clients with updates as soon as news comes in — for example, if we get a pass, I’ll inform them right away of the pass and share the reasons behind the pass.
What happens if you don’t sell this book?
If we can’t find a way to re-envision it to position it better for success, then we usually move on to the next project. I’ve had more than one client whose first book didn’t hit, but their second one did.
How many editors do you go to before giving up?
I usually exhaust all of my options before I move on. I’m very tenacious! It’s a subjective business so you have to try every avenue before you give up and sometimes think outside of the box. As my colleague Sharlene Martin always says: It only takes one!How long is your average client relationship?
When I make an offer of representation, my hope is to be in it for the long haul with them. I do represent some memoir clients, and usually that’s a shorter relationship because not everyone has more than one memoir in them!
Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?
The wonderful Taryn Fagerness handles foreign rights for our agency. MLM specializes in adaptation rights (film/tv/stage), as the president of our agency, Sharlene Martin, came from the TV and film world before she was a literary agent. We’ve successfully negotiated television and film adaptations for several of our clients and it is always something we are looking to do. A fun YA example is the Lifetime movie starring Alexa Vega, The Pregnancy Project, based on a YA memoir of the same name, published by Simon & Schuster.
Are you open to authors who work in multiple genres?
Sure, as long as they are working under the children’s book umbrella — I represent anything from board books through YA, fiction or nonfiction. Beyond that, I may not be the best agent for the job, but would consider on a project by project basis.