Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patty’s Day: Agent Tracy Marchini Interview Part One

This cute St. Patty’s Day illustration was sent in from Carolyn Le. Carolyn has twice received a first-place Illustration Award for her portfolio from SCBWI Editor’s Day, has received a Merit Award from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles She writes and illustrates picture books.

TracyMarchini – Literary Agent – Featured Agent for March and critiquing four first pages at the end of the month. 

Below is a brief bio with her likes and dislikes:

After four years as a Literary Agents Assistant at Curtis Brown, Tracy Marchini left to pursue her own editorial business and to earn her MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. Her editorial clients have gone on to secure representation, sell books to traditional publishers, win awards and become bestsellers. She’s looking forward to being able to work with her BookEnds clients throughout their careers and to (hopefully!) see them grow as authors in the same way.

Tracy is looking for picture book, middle grade and young adult manuscripts across most genres, including contemporary, mysteries, thrillers, magical realism, historical fiction, and non-fiction. She is also looking for picture book illustrators and author-illustrators.

For picture book fiction, she loves books that are laugh out loud funny or deliciously dark.

For middle grade and young adult, she’s interested in underdogs, strong female characters and/or unreliable narrators. She feels it’s important for readers of all backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the media they consume, and she is looking to bring that diversity to my list.

She is not a good fit for YA horror, true crime, hard sci-fi, or high fantasy. At this time, she is not looking for board books or early chapter books.


This dancing lass was sent in by Priscilla Dunn.


Are there any genres that are less interesting to you?

I’m not a great fit for high fantasy or hard science fiction. I’m also not a good fit for young adult horror.

I also tend not to gravitate towards sweeter, “guess how much I love you” type picture books. (I’m not saying never on this, but there just hasn’t been anything yet that has grabbed me.)

I am looking for middle grade horror and/or middle grade with an element of magical realism!

Do you have any story or theme that you wished someone would submit?

My #mswl is full of things I’d love to see, like more girls in science or a YA set during the time of the fight for the ERA (1920’s or 1970’s – open to either).

I’d also love to see more non-fiction for middle grade and young adults for the trade market. I haven’t seen much of that in my inbox yet.

I’m also looking for more author/illustrators that really use the juxtaposition of text and art to their advantage.

What do you like to see in a submission?

I ask for a query letter and the first five pages, and I’m looking for submissions that are polished, have a strong voice, a unique hook, and with a story that appeals to me on some emotional level (intrigue, surprise, etc.).

How important is the query letter? 

The query is very important to me for middle grade and young adult, because it’s how I get a sense of the narrative arc. Sometimes you can tell if there will be issues with the manuscript just from the query.

With picture book submissions, I tend to skip right to the sample. BUT, I still want to see a professional query letter. If I’m interested in the story but the query is just “Here is my book,” that’s going to make me think the writer isn’t serious about their career.

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

Write a strong pitch, make sure to include the five sample pages, and really focus on your first chapter. I should know just by reading the first five pages what kind of story I’m about to read. If I read five pages and still feel like I don’t know the genre/direction the story might be going, I’m likely to move on.

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

It really depends. I read until it’s clear that I’m not going to be a good fit. In a requested manuscript, sometimes that’s three chapters, sometimes it’s half-way. If I’m on the fence, I read the synopsis and see if it’s compelling enough to make me keep going.

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

A few typos I can understand in a manuscript, but I can be less forgiving in a query. A query is just one page, and if I notice, for example, that an author doesn’t use commas correctly, then I know that the entire manuscript is going to have grammatical issues.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?

At BookEnds, we respond to every submission. So if you submitted through QueryManager, you will hear a response from me.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

It really depends on what’s on my plate and what’s in the requested box. Right now I think I have requested material from August or September, and I’m certainly trying to get a little more up-to-date! I will read and respond to everything sent through QueryManager though, so please don’t assume that if you haven’t heard from me that it’s a no.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

I think in picture book submissions, I see a lot of submissions that aren’t written in picture book language. I wrote a very short post on my blog about picture book language, but of course, getting picture book voice right is a little more complicated than that!

I also will sometimes receive several picture book manuscript submissions at once from the same author, or another submission the same day I’ve rejected the first. This makes me think that the author has a drawer full of backlist and that I’m not seeing their newest, most polished work. I’m always leery of this, because in all of my clients I want to be able to see growth in their craft.

For middle grade and young adult, I think the most common mistake I see is an opening where the character wakes up in bed. It’s so common in the submission pile, that I immediately lose interest.


In the subject line, please write “March 2017  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). LAST MONTH TWO SUBMISSIONS DID NOT ATTACH A WORD DOCUMENT AND WERE ELIMINATED. DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN!

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: March 23rd

RESULTS: March 31st.

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!

You can contact Tracy at or follow her on Twitter at

You must use their form to submit to Tracy at Bookends. Click here for the form.

Congratulations! Tracey’s picture book debut Chicken Wants A Nap will be published in August by Creative Editions.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I love Carolyn’s dragon!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: