Tanusri had a somewhat unorthodox transition into publishing. A lawyer by training, she has a PhD in legal philosophy & human rights from Oxford University, and a Master’s degree from Harvard Law School. Along the way she worked in the legal department of the World Bank in Washington and as a teaching fellow at Columbia Law School. An avid fan of children’s literature, Tanusri joined a book club devoted to kidlit in 2012, which sowed the seeds of her decision to become a literary agent specializing in children’s books. To this end, before joining HSG, she gained valuable experience interning at Knopf Young Readers and Foundry Literary+ Media.
She is interested in all sorts of kidlit, ranging from picture books and middle-grade to YA (including YA/Adult crossovers). Tanusri is drawn to storytellers who deftly inveigle readers into their intricately-crafted plots with great voice and a touch of humor, and to writers with a vivid sense of the absurd. And while her primary interest is kidlit, she is also open to selective domestic suspense (Tana French and Sophie Hannah are two of her favorite authors in the genre) and voice-driven narrative non-fiction on social justice issues.
You can follow her on twitter at @TanusriPrasanna.
Below is Part Three of my interview with Tanusri.
What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?
Tanusri: I like to respond to emails immediately at least to acknowledge receipt. Sometimes if it’s a question I can answer right away I like to do that. But if it requires a more detailed response, I’ll let them know that and try and respond within a couple of days. Phone calls are always scheduled in advance so that I’m prepared for whatever it is we are chatting about and we can use that time efficiently.
How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?
Tanusri: I usually communicate via email but I do like to get on the phone when we’re brainstorming edits or submission strategy. I’m also always open to (scheduled) phone calls when any of my authors wants to chat about something, or has a question that requires detailed discussion. I like to be as communicative and transparent as possible during the submission process, whether it is sharing the submission list (who’s got the manuscript at which house), passes/editorial feedback as those come in and of course any movement at all!
What happens if you don’t sell this book?
Tanusri: One can never guarantee that a book will sell and my philosophy is to only take on projects that I feel very passionate about. The process of selling a book can be protracted, sometimes disheartening, and full of ups and downs. So it takes an enormous amount of patience and energy to be fully behind a book and to represent it successfully, and that is only possible (in my view) if one really believes in the book despite discouraging outcomes during submission. So even if a book doesn’t sell right away it is important to keep the faith with it and it is my job to try every possible avenue to find it the right home. If there is a consistent theme in the feedback I’m getting about a manuscript, it may be necessary to revise and go back for a second or even third round of submissions. I will not give up until I’m absolutely certain that I’ve tried every means to sell it. That being said, if a book doesn’t sell despite several rounds of submissions and substantial revisions, then it may make sense to put it aside for a bit and work on something new.
How many editors do you go to before giving up?
Tanusri: There is no set number, it varies in each case. But I would typically go through several rounds of submission before even thinking of giving up! This is a very subjective business and I’ve seen books sold to wonderful editors after being passed on by several houses.
How long is your average client relationship?
Tanusri: For life! I believe in representing an author for her entire career not just on a project-by-project basis. But if for some reason things aren’t working despite our best efforts it’s important to recognize that and move on with no hard feelings. I believe the author-agent relationship is a bit like a marriage and there needs to be complete trust on both sides for it to work well. And so as I build my list, while the quality of the manuscript sets the bar, connecting well with the author is also very important to me.
Are you open to authors who write multiple genres?
Tanusri: Absolutely. That being said, an author with a talent for writing middle-grade may not necessarily get the YA voice right (or vice versa) and it is my job to provide feedback on what’s working and what’s not.
Are you interested in being invited to writer’s conferences?
Tanusri: Yes, definitely! It’s a great way for me to put myself out there and to find new talent. I also love chatting with people who’re interested in writing the kinds of books I want to represent. It’s a brilliant opportunity to talk incessantly about kidlit!
Check back next Friday to read the first page results.
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:
In the subject line, please write “November 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 passed 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: November 24th
RESULTS: December 2nd
Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!