Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 10, 2020

Agent of the Month – Alyssa Reuben Interview Part One

Alyssa Reuben at Paradigm Talent Agency is our Agent of the Month for July. This week is part one of my interview with Scroll to bottom to learn how to submit a first page for a chance to win a critique with Alyssa.

Alyssa Reuben has been a passionate representative and advocate of authors for well over a decade. Her list reflects her multifaceted passions and includes adult, young adult, and the occasional middle grade fiction as well as smart, platform driven, nonfiction ranging from pop-culture, lifestyle, cookbooks, and narrative to memoir.

She gravitates toward voice-driven non-fiction presenting a fresh point of view and particularly loves novels with an edge or a great romance arc. Her favorite kind of project is one that allows her to roll up her sleeves to develop and edit material alongside a collaborative and engaged author and prides herself on discovering new voices and launching successful careers. She runs the book publishing department at Paradigm Literary and Talent Agency, which has been her home since graduating Cornell University.

Alyssa represents a range of both adult and children’s genres. For children’s, she gravitates toward contemporary Middle Grade and YA with a strong voice. But a high concept, or an interesting paranormal twist has been known to catch her eye. For nonfiction, her categories include pop-culture, lifestyle, quirky histories, food, narrative and memoir. On the fiction side, her tastes are extremely wide ranging between literary and commercial. She’s a sucker for a coming-of-age story or a good romance arc.

She’s Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Fiction: Literary Fiction, Chick Lit, Commercial Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor/Satire, Romance, Family Saga, Historical Fiction, Thrillers, Young Adult, Multi-Cultural, LGBTQ, Adventure, Offbeat/Quirky, Middle Grade.

Non-Fiction: History, Celebrity, Biography, Religion, Food & Lifestyle, Drama/Music, Multi-Cultural, Cookbooks, illustrated, LGBTQ, True Crime, Memoirs, Travel, Adventure/True Story, Dating/Relationships, Current Affairs, Women’s Issues, Pop Culture, Film & Entertainment, Cultural/Social Issues, Humor, Journalism, Narrative, Memoir.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to AREUBEN@PARADIGMAGENCY.COM

Please e-mail your query letter along with the first 10 pages of your work in the body of an email to Areuben@paradigmagency.com

AREUBEN@PARADIGMAGENCY.COM

Twitter.

Paradigm Agency website.

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH ALYSSA:

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

My first job in publishing was as an editorial intern at Simon & Schuster and at the time, I wasn’t aware that agenting was even a job. I was only familiar with roles associated with being on the side of a publisher and I sure I’d be an editor. But my first job out of college was working as an assistant for an agent, where I learned that being an agent had the benefit of incorporating a lot of aspects of being editorial and working directly with material while allowing you to be entrepreneurial and discover and champion new voices.  I never looked back!

Do you think graduating from Cornell University helped your agenting career?

I was an American studies major at Cornell and it allowed me to take a whole host of classes in a range of areas of study that interested me.  My friends joke that I majored in Jeopardy because my education was so wide ranging – literature, art, government, film, pop-culture, feminism, sociology etc. I approach agenting in much the same way I did taking classes as a student – I represent a really wide range of books and authors whose work interests and excites me personally, first and foremost, and inspires me to want to share it with others.

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

After a series of internships in entertainment and publishing, I graduated college and was faced with getting a job in “the real world.” I applied to a job opening at Paradigm that seemed to fit my skills without really knowing anything about the company or the role. I was brought in for a series of interviews, subsequently hired on a desk of a book agent and have been there ever since (over 13 years!) and now run the department. It’s a really wonderful home and I have the benefit of being at a full-service agency where I have a lot of built in resources and potential clients while having the total autonomy to pursue and sign anyone that I want.

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

I don’t have a set number and my goal is always to represent my clients for the span of their careers. Writers work at all different paces and their work is always at varying stages (whether its readying a new project for submission, something that’s already sold and being edited, preparing for publication etc.).  When the right project or client presents itself, there’s always time!

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

I’m really hankering for some great fiction these days. My taste in that respect tends to be two separate poles: either super dark, subversive thrillers with biting, edgy characters or, the opposite end of the spectrum with really fun, comedic storytelling – a great romantic arc is always a bonus.  After all this time in quarantine, I think people are going to want a bit of escapist fun in their reading – I know I do!

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

I definitely find myself leaning more commercial in my taste.  That’s not to say I don’t love literary work, just that I tend to represent more commercial fare.

Have you ever represented a book that you sent over to the movie side of your company?

The goal is always to represent things that lend themselves to film and television or theater projects. I am in conversations daily with colleagues in those respective departments about IP and books I’m working on. I find now more than ever, clients, producers, screenwriters etc. are all looking for amazing books to exploit for film and television.

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?

Writing is a creative, artistic outlet so I would never want to give an author hard and fast rules.  I do think that when starting out, it makes sense to focus in one area of the marketplace to really create a name for yourself, which will then allow you to pivot into other areas of interest but it’s ultimately client and project dependent.

If you had a MG or YA author who writes a picture book, would you represent them with the book, pass it on to someone else in your company, or tell them they will need to find another agent for that book?

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not someone who actively represents picture books. Despite having two small, picture-book loving readers at home and consuming them nightly, I find they’re very specific and specialized work. If a long-time client really had their heart set on submitting a picture book, I’d do it for them, but I wouldn’t sign a new client with a picture book.

What do you like to see in a submission?

I like to see knowledge and awareness of my list, writing credits, a great pitch and above all, voice.

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

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

In the subject line, please write “July 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 JULY  – 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: July 24th. – noon EST

RESULTS: July 31st.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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