Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 14, 2020

Agent of the Month Alexandra Levick – Interview Part One

I am very happy to announce that Alexandra Levick at Writers House is February’s Agent of the Month. Scroll to bottom for how to submit a first page and maybe win a critique with Alexandra.

Alexandra Levick earned an M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media from New York University and a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Rochester. She is a former bookseller with training in both the children’s and adult markets and has experience working on the house side of publishing in publicity. She is an agent at Writers House.

Writers House was founded in 1974 and since that time has become one of the largest full-service literary agencies in the world. They pride themselves on providing an extraordinary amount of individual client attention, combined with the benefits of full foreign rights, subsidiary rights, and contracts departments. They house an accounting department equipped to provide forensic royalty and financial analysis, as well as a digital department focusing on the ever-changing technological landscape of the publishing world today.

Alexandra started at Writers House as an intern for Brianne Johnson and was quickly pulled from the program to begin working for Senior Vice President, Merrilee Heifetz. Later, she covered senior agent, Stephen Barr’s, paternity leave and began working as an assistant to senior agents Brianne Johnson and Rebecca Sherman. In 2015, she graduated from New York University with my Masters of Science in Publishing: Digital and Print Media, with a specialization in Media Content Development.

Alexandra is actively growing her picture book, middle grade, young adult, and adult lists.

***

What am I looking for?

Picture book author-illustrators, a wide range of middle grade and YA, and more speculative-leaning or genre-bent upmarket adult works. I’m committed to working with writers from diverse backgrounds and am looking to put forth a list of outstanding creators who will be able to provide windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors (thank you, Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop) into all kinds of experiences. I’m particularly looking for own-voices stories about historically underrepresented characters, identities, and cultures.

No matter the genre or age-range, I crave a distinctive voice and strong thematic point behind the work—I want to run screaming to my friends and family about your book because there is so much to discuss. I love character-driven stories that revolve around BIG topics (discussing things like mortality or grief in a new and hopefully somewhat uplifting way is always an instant lightbulb!). Upon further consideration, I’m not looking for ‘issue books’ per se, rather I’d like to represent authors and stories that stand for more than just a good yarn; I’d like to represent authors who provoke conversations around important and necessary topics in our world today. I don’t just want contemporary versions of these stories, either. Send me your fantasy, your sci-fi, your genre-bender!

So please, send your work over to me. I can’t wait to give it a read.

*******

Below is  Part One of my interview with Alexandra

What happened while you were getting your B.A. in Creative Writing that made you decide to go for your M.S. in Publishing?

I was taking an International Fiction course with Joanna Scott (who is, incidentally, a Writers House client) at the University of Rochester and she had invited Chad Post, the Publisher of Open Letter Books, to come in to give a presentation on the publishing industry and specifically about literature in translation. Despite working in a bookstore for several years up until that point, I had never truly considered where books came from and all the people who worked on them, but as Chad spoke, I knew this was the right career for me. I was sure this was something I should do.

When did you know then that you wanted to become an agent?

This was in another class presentation! (Can you tell I really love learning?) In my Introduction to Book Publishing course in my Master’s program, my professor had Julie Barer of The Book Group speak to us about agenting. She inspired me immensely. As soon as I knew what an agent did, I was 110% certain it was the perfect job for me. I delight in a fierce negotiation and have a keen eye for detail; I also love brainstorming and working on the creative aspects of the process. It is truly the most perfect combination of responsibilities for my personality.

How did you get the job with Writers House and long have you been with them?

I was interning for Brianne Johnson at Writers House and had the opportunity to interview with Amy Berkower and Merrilee Heifetz. Merrilee hired me on the spot. Happily, I’ve been here ever since! (Almost 5 years!)

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

I don’t. It just depends on whether I honestly feel I can work to my fullest for all of them. I would not take on a client if I did not feel I had the bandwidth to represent them to the best of my abilities.

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

I always love themes of grief and growth. Those are always the overarching topics I found myself drawn to again and again.

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

I think I lean ever so slightly more literary than commercial, but my projects are always a healthy combination of both.

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

I think any career needs to be carefully thought out and planned strategically business-wise, but I don’t think that necessarily means you can only write in one age (or genre) category.

What do you like to see in a submission?

Voice! If I can’t clearly hear a character’s voice in my head, it’s hard for me to connect with them.

How important is the query letter?

It is important, but I don’t think it’s the end-all, be-all.

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

There’s no trick for me, it’s simply a combination of strong, evocative writing and an incredible, indelible plot.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in their submission?

Yes, I respond to every query I receive.

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

I aim to respond under 60 days but that can sometimes vary given what client work I have on my plate. My clients always come first.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDRA.

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR FEBRUARY 2020 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “FEBRUARY 2020 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).

PLEASE name the Word document file by putting 2020 FEBRUARY – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you.

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: February 21st. – noon EST

RESULTS: February 28th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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