Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 12, 2019

Agent of the Month – Kristy Hunter – Interview Part One

Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency is April’s AGENT OF THE MONTH and will be critiquing 4 first pages submitted. See bottom of post for guidelines.

The Knight Agency, based in Madison, Georgia, is one of the industry’s leading literary agencies, specializing in a wide array of fiction and non-fiction. TKA’s diverse list boasts bestselling and award-winning titles in romance, women’s fiction, science-fiction, fantasy, young adult, self-help, finance, diet, parenting and inspirational genres, among others. The agency is known for personalized client attention and a comprehensive range of services, including editorial refinement, branding consultation and strategy, in-house subsidiary rights and publicity support.

As a graduate of Vanderbilt University and The Columbia Publishing Course, Kristy Hunter began her publishing career in New York City—first as an editorial intern at Bloomsbury Children’s Books and then as a book publicist at Grove/Atlantic and Random House Children’s Books. When she moved to the agenting side of the industry, she was closely mentored by Deidre Knight, president and founder of The Knight Agency, and her first co-agented project sold at auction soon after. As an associate agent, Kristy enjoys being able to bring a unique perspective to her clients thanks to her diverse publishing background. When she’s not curled up with a fantastic book or manuscript, she can be found kickboxing or hiking with her dog and is an active member of SCBWI.

You can query Kristy Hunter at Query Manager HERE

Currently, Kristy is looking for new talent to add to her list. She loves voice-driven stories, strong characters, and being surprised by the unexpected. As a result, she is open to most genres but is specifically looking for upmarket fiction with a strong hook, commercial fiction, romance, historical fiction, thrillers, young adult, and middle grade. Books that feature a diverse cast of characters are always at the top of her list and she’d love to see even more own-voices projects in her inbox. Her #MSWL includes the following:

In adult fiction:

High concept women’s fiction such as Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. As well, as stories that are literary but with commercial appeal such as Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. I especially love projects that capture the complicated nature of family.

Rom-coms set in wonderful urban settings such as The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Mainstream titles with hints of magic like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

In YA fiction:

Fantasy projects that allow me to be transported in a way that feels new and fresh. I’d especially love to find a contemporary fantasy with a wonderful atmospheric setting. I also wouldn’t say no to paranormal…but it would truly have to be something I haven’t seen before

Magical realism

Historical projects that are serious in nature like Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, as well as those that are more playful like The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. I especially love historical mysteries and projects set in the Victorian and Regency periods.

Contemporary YA stories that are fun and unique, and overall present the perfect escape—even if they address larger issues. Think Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han and When We Collided by Emery Lord.

Thrillers and mysteries—either contemporary or historical. My favorites include Little Monsters by Kara Thomas and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

In MG fiction:

Contemporary projects in the vein of The First Rule of Punk by Celia Pérez, Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin, and Wish by Barbara O’Connor (I’m a sucker for a pet!).

Quirky mysteries that could be part of a larger series and stories involving shifting friend groups

Light fantasy and magical realism such as The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill and A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH KRISTY:

What made you decide to become an agent?

After graduating college, I attended the Columbia Publishing Course which provided a wonderful overview of the industry. I wasn’t originally interested in being an agent—it seemed stressful to have to wear so many hats. How could one person edit, manage contracts, put out fires, negotiate deals, and so much more? All on any given day? I loved the idea of it but wasn’t sure if it was for me. Instead, I started as an editorial intern and then went on to work in book publicity. But I missed the creative side that comes with working as an editor or an agent. After several fantastic years in NYC and book publicity, I decided I was ready for a new challenge. Working at a publishing house was an invaluable experience and one I am so grateful to have had before moving to agenting. It provided me with insights that I still use to assist my clients and guide them through their careers.

Do you think publishers are still interested in publishing e-books along with print?

Yes, I do.

What about audio books; are publishers looking to publish an audio version with their book contracts?

Yes, audio books have become incredibly popular in recent years and as a result publishing houses are pushing to retain those rights.

If a manuscript has a prologue, should that be included in the sample pages?

Yes, absolutely. Your sample pages should start at the beginning. If you find yourself thinking that that is not the best place to start, it may be a sign you need to rework your initial chapters.

How important is the query letter? 

First impressions are important and, in many ways, the query letter is the first impression you’re making with an agent. It’s the first time they’re connecting with you as a writer and the first time they’re being introduced to your project. Most agencies will post submission guidelines and query tips on their website and I highly recommend taking the time to check those out.

What would you like to see in the query letter? Should writers try to keep it short?

For the query letter, 250-350 words is usually a great range. Overall, I’m really looking for a sense of professionalism and an indication that the writer has done their research before querying me (ie my name is spelled correctly). Beyond that, I need to know the title, the genre, the word count, and also be provided with a brief and compelling plot summary. The summary should describe the stakes and the conflict in specific terms, but not be inundated with unnecessary details (no need to include every single character!). Similarly, writers can have a tendency to go overboard on the bio. For fiction, something short and sweet works best.

Should the word count for your manuscript be included in the query letter?

Yes, always.

Do you like comps mentioned in the query letter?

I’m a huge fan of thoughtful comps. Nothing too obscure or too big (no Harry Potter!), but done right, comps can provide me with a clear understanding of the project and how it could be pitched to editors and future readers.

Are you interested in graphic novels and author/illustrators?

I love graphic novels, but at this time I am not interested in representing them.

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

For me, an unforgettable voice is the most important thing, second only to a unique hook. An amazing combination of the two will always make me want to read on.

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

It depends. My guidelines ask that 20 pages be submitted with the query, and by then I usually have a clear idea as to whether or not I want to read on. But sometimes it takes as little as one page for me to know if it’s a fit.

Any pet peeves?

Not following directions. To me it’s a red flag. If an agent asks that you only contact them through certain social media channels, that is always best. If they ask that you submit a certain number of pages, that is what they are looking for. Rules and directions exist for various reasons and I really appreciate those writers who take the time and care to follow them.

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR APRIL 2019 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “APRIL 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: April 19th.

RESULTS: April 26th.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF KRISTY’S INTERVIEW.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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