Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 24, 2020

Agent of the Month – Alyssa Reuben Interview Part Three

Alyssa Reuben at Paradigm Talent Agency is our Agent of the Month for July. This week is part two 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:


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



Paradigm Agency website.


Have you ever represented a children’s book illustrator? Are you only interested in representing writer/illustrators?

I have and do represent illustrators, but they all tend to have big platforms and work mainly beyond books.  I’m not the right representative for someone who is strictly a book illustrator, there are great people out there who singularly focus on that.

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

I’m readily available for my clients. Most have my cell number so I can’t really hide, even if I wanted to!

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

It depends what’s being communicated and what the client wants. I’m very open and communicative about my plans – who I submit to, what the responses are, what the best steps are for closing etc. There are clients who don’t like to know all the feedback and some who like to know every detail, so it’s entirely up to a client how and what I communicate during that process.

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

While I’m loath to admit it, I’m occasionally unable to sell a book. When I sign a new client, it’s with the intent to represent them for the span of their careers, rather than a one-off project. Unless we’re really not seeing eye-to-eye on a follow-up idea, I stick with them. If their next project doesn’t resonate with me, we might part ways as I would never want to hold someone back from a project they want to pursue.

How many editors would you go to before giving up?

In this business you have to be very thoughtful about matchmaking between projects and editors.  It’s really not the quantity – it’s whether this person is an ideal fit. I certainly try to cover my bases with submitting and if it doesn’t hit on my first round, I’ll extend the field.

Would you ever send a manuscript to another agent at Paradigm if it was good, but not your style?

Absolutely! Sometimes I can appreciate the salability and marketability of something while recognizing it’s not right for me. For example, I passed a project to a colleague that went on to win a James Beard – and I was so glad I did because if I had hung on to it, it may not have realized its potential. I really only take things on that I have a vision for and feel passionate about.

What do you think of digital and audio books? Are they part of every sale these days?

Most big publishers are drawing a line in the sand so that you can’t separate out those rights in deals. Audio is presenting some interesting opportunities right now, particularly for some of the prominent musicians and entertainment figures I represent.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

While trends certainly exist, I find that if a writer tries to write to a trend, they generally miss the timing.  Write what speaks to you rather than chasing a trend.

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

The first “wisdom” is not revolutionary: read and write a lot.  One or the other or both every day.  Second, find a good writing group or a writing partner.  Take their notes, and also let them tell you you’re amazing. Writing is a hard job, and you’ll stop writing if you don’t have a voice of encouragement.  Last is to have the end in mind when you start writing. You don’t have to know the entire plot or even the whole character arc, but know the emotional ending and how you want the audience to feel when it’s over.

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

I’m not a frequent attendee of conferences etc. but after being cooped up at home for the last 5 or so months, I have a newfound urge to get out there a little more.


Alyssa, thank you for sharing your thoughtful answers to the interview questions with us. We appreciate the sharing yourself and time.


Talk tomorrow,


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