Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 23, 2018

Agent of the Month – Mike Hooland – Interview Part Three

Agent Michael Hoogland at Dystal, Goderich, and Bourret is our featured agent for March. He will critique 4 fist pages from the ones submitted.

Michael Hoogland joined  God after completing a foreign rights internship at Sterling Lord Literistic. Before pursuing a career in publishing, Mike studied at Colgate University and graduated with a degree in political science and the intention to work in government. He interned with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but soon realized his interests and passions were better suited to a career in the publishing industry. After Colgate, Mike went on to gain a valuable education at the Columbia Publishing Course and discovered his passion for the agenting side of the business.

He is currently looking for thrillers (especially domestic), suspense, sci-fi/fantasy, upmarket women’s fiction, and children’s lit (YA, middle grade, and picture books), as well as a wide range of narrative nonfiction.


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

Usually within 24 hours, but if we’re in the editing stage my response will naturally take longer.

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

I prefer email because I like things to be in writing. This way we can both refer back to what has been said. I typically provide clients with an update on the submission process once every couple weeks; I compile a document with editor feedback so they can benefit from constructive criticism. We’re in contact much more frequently during the actual negotiation process.

What happens if you don’t sell a book? Would you drop the writer if he or she wanted to self-publish that one book?

Depends. I wouldn’t necessarily drop them, but it can be more difficult to sell their work to traditional publishers once they’ve opted self-publish. Instead, I’d advise them to shelve that book and move onto the next one. It’s common for authors’ first books to go unsold and their second or third projects to find a home.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

There’s no set number, but I’d say the typical range is anywhere from 10-20 editors. Take that number with a grain of salt though—could be more, could be fewer too. It varies by project. There are simply more options for some genres than others.

What do you think of digital books?

It’s not hard to see the appeal as a reader because of the sheer convenience and lower book prices. And certain genres, like romance, sell a lot of e-books. That said, it’s clear that print is still critical and comprises a majority of book sales. Audiobooks are also booming right now. E-book sales seem to have plateaued in recent years, and there’s an ongoing discussion about whether the industry standard digital royalty rates are fair for authors.

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

Our agency has a foreign rights department that does a truly fantastic job selling translation rights. We will occasionally handle film rights ourselves, but usually we try to work with a co-agent.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

Audiobooks are big right now. There’s also been a conscious effort to publish more diverse authors the last couple years.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

The only way to become a better writer is to write, write, write. And take the editing process seriously. Be open to criticism. Be willing to make painful edits. Keep your audience in mind and familiarize yourself with industry trends. What type of books are selling? What isn’t working? A publisher is only going to buy your book if they see an audience for it. Same goes for agents. And finally, learn to let go. If your first book hasn’t worked out, move on to the next one. Writers don’t limit themselves to one book. (And the second is often better; you learn from the mistakes of the first.)

Would you like to attend writer’s retreats, workshops, and conferences?

Yeah, these are great. It’s always fun to interact with writers and spend time with like-minded bibliophiles.



In the subject line, please write “MARCH 2018  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).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!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.

RESULTS: March 30th.

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!

Talk tomorrow,


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