Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 12, 2018

October Agent of the Month – Liza Fleissig Interview Part One

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. A cross-platform company providing development, representation, and strategic career management for clients in all media, their goal is to represent clients in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. Both former partners in NYC based litigation law firms, Liza and Ginger bring a combined 40 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.

From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, screenplays to stage works, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH LIZA:

What inspired you to jump from lawyer over to children’s literary agent and opening your own agency?

I have always had a strong sphere of influence from friends in the publishing industry, and had been searching for something more creative to do for a long time after my children were born.  Besides, I guess when you come from an entrepreneurial family, it’s in your blood to take risks and try new things!

Do you have a limit on the number of clients you will represent?

Not necessarily.  Clients are usually at different stages of the process, allowing us to very our focus as the need arises. Moreover, as we grow, we continue to expand our network of assistance, so a slow but steady build is manageable. That said, when a potential new client overlaps with one of our own, we sometimes have to pass on a project that we would have loved to take on.

I know in the beginning you and your partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin read everything, but your business has grown with all your successes. Have your hired readers to help. If so, are you happy with that decision?

Actually, we had outside readers from day one. What I think you are referring to is that we used to get back to EVERY query. Alas, some people didn’t appreciate being told that their submission was not right for us, so we have since changed our process. If someone does NOT hear back from us within two weeks, then they are to assume we are not interested. It was just too taxing to engage with everyone. That said, if we do take on a project for consideration, LRA does fully vet and read, giving back specific feedback to each one.

What are your favorite genres? Are Ginger’s interests the same?

My own personal favorites are mystery/suspense and humor, along with contemporary and culturally relevant works, though I enjoy all types of books. Luckily, Ginger and I share the same interests so it makes client decisions easy, but we do split the workload. I constantly refer to Ginger as “The Picture Book Queen” and happily defer to her on those. She also is super strong for nonfiction and recently has been more involved with MG as her own child grows. Still, at the end of the day, we both have eyes on all things and can step in to help each other as the case may be.

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

I know authors always love to know this so they can see if we are a good potential fit out of the gate; but really, I am just open to whatever the author is compelled to write. There are many times I would not have thought I would have even liked something only and find it to be an unexpected treasure. Who knew?

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

We are open to anything that is strong, engaging and marketable and continue to support both Literary and Commercial works on our list.

Do you think it is okay for an author to write middle grade novels, and YA novels? Or do you feel it is better to focus on one age group and genre?

Sigh. This is a tough one. On one hand, I don’t ever want to thwart the creative process. However, since the readership is so different, it is important – especially for debuts – to try to stay with their initial age group so as to build a brand. Readers and booksellers alike tend to have expectations when it comes to their favorite authors, and changing gears midstream can at times be jarring and disappoint. It’s sort of like buying an album because you love a particular song only to find it was a one off and the rest of the album is a totally different sound. Notwithstanding, a good strong book can always find its way to the bookshelves so sometimes it’s more about timing.

What do you like to see in a submission?

A polished manuscript that is well thought out and complete. You would be surprised how many submissions we get that we later see are incomplete, riddled with errors, and just overall clearly not their best work. Please don’t do that authors – only send your BEST work. Odds are it will still need tweaking but at least you are showing you are a professional and serious.

How important is the query letter?

Very. It’s the first impression we see. When I get one that is succinct, lets me know why you are a good fit for us, and sets out social media/platform info, it shows me that you are industry savvy and ready to roll.

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

Actually, we always ask for a full. If we don’t like what we see, we can always delete; but there’s nothing more frustrating than being excited to turn the page only to be left hanging. Plus, it’s not always easy to go back to something once you’ve already moved on. Besides, in today’s electronic age, it just never occurred to us to ask for anything less.

PLEASE CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF INTERVIEW WITH LIZA.

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR SEPTEMBER FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “OCTOBER 2018 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE”  Example: 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.

DEADLINE: October 23rd.

RESULTS: November 2nd.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Liza never fails to please. LOVE how honest and to the point she is. No wasting time with skewed answers! 😀

    Like

  2. Thanks for an interesting interview.

    Like


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