Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 19, 2021

APRIL AGENT OF THE MONTH – ANN ROSE – Interview Part Two

ANN ROSE AT PROSPECT AGENCY:

I am a California native who now resides in Texas after a stint in Florida. Each place has its pros and cons, but I can say that I left my heart in San Diego and dream of going back one day (although that will probably never happen). My degree is in Communication from San Diego State University, and my resume holds a gamut of jobs from Life Guard to Business Systems Analyst/Portfolio Manager, but books have always been my passion. I’m excited to finally merge my love of literature with my past professional experiences as a literary agent with Prospect. It is my honor to help authors build successful, sustainable careers.

I fell in love with young adult books when my niece asked me to read with her and I remain devoted to YA of all genres. I am looking for characters who aren’t afraid to stand up for their convictions and beliefs — whether they fight with their fists or their words. I’m also open to all genres of middle grade, and especially love stories that push the MG boundary by exploring topics that affect middle graders but aren’t always broached in stories written for them. In the adult arena, I adore swoony romances, light sci-fi or fantasy, commercial fiction, and heartwarming — or heart wrenching — contemporaries. I’m always looking for unique voices, diverse perspectives, vivid settings, and stories that explore tough topics. Dark and edgy is totally okay too. Above all I’m looking for compelling characters who make me think in new ways, and laugh and cry, hopefully in the same story!

My clients know I’m ready to roll up my sleeves to help create the best books possible, from brainstorming at the idea stage all the way through submissions and beyond. I love attending conferences, and sharing my knowledge of the publishing industry. I am a member of the SCBWI, YARWA and RWA.

ANN WILL BE ONE OF THE AGENTS JOINING JULY’S FULL MANUSCRIPT VIRTUAL WRITER’S RETREAT on July 24th and 25th 2021.

BELOW IS PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH ANN:

Interview with Ann Rose – March 2021 Featured Agent

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

There is no set amount. I read as long as it takes, and sometimes I will read and if I’m liking it I will set it aside and come back to it when I have more time to really concentrate on it.

Do you let people know if you are not interested?

The Prospect Policy is that a no response is a no, and if anyone saw the system we use they would understand why that is. As it stands right now, I spend no less than 40 hours a month on just reading queries which is already a lot of time, so I can’t make that process any longer than it is or I would never get all the other things done. I know it’s not ideal, and I’m hoping we will make some changes because I don’t like the not knowing either.

That said, if I requested something from a Twitter pitch contest, for example, I will always respond.

Lately, there seems to be various age groups for MG and YA novels. Do you think a writer should worry about classifying a middle grade as lower or upper middle grade and same with YA or is it okay to just say MG or YA and let you decide how to classify the book?

I don’t think there is a need to be that specific in regards to classifying lower vs upper. I think the context and subject matter will key us off as to where it would sit.

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

It’s going to sound cliché, but write a darn good book. Beyond that, for me, it has to have a solid premise, a strong hook, interesting characters, and the writing needs to be well done. In the end, plot can change and circumstances the characters get in can change, but the character themselves are who they are so they are probably the most important piece. Make me care about them, and I’ll most likely NEED to read more.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material? And query letters?

Forever. Okay, maybe not that long but it feels like especially over this past year it’s just taking me so much more time to get all the things done. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve had some submissions for a very long time. That said, it’s totally okay for authors to check in, and I’m very transparent about what’s going on. The thing isn’t that I’m not interested or don’t want the project. The thing is that I just want to devote the time and attention each manuscript deserves and right now finding that time has been exceedingly difficult.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

Sending things out before they are truly ready is a mistake a lot of authors make, but I get it. They are excited and want to share their work with the world—want to get it out there before someone else does. But it really does do the author a disservice. Critique partners and beta readers are really a needed part of the process—and I don’t mean Mom or BFF but other writers in the age group/genre giving some feedback because those are the people who are going to be the most honest and really push a writer to be better. In my author life, I still use this step myself.

Any pet peeves?

Many, but for this, I will try to keep it simple. My biggest pet peeve and one I’m most vocal about is starting a story with the character waking up. The problem I have with this is that it is used so often that it doesn’t make the work stand out or feel fresh or different. The job of any books opening is to grab the attention of the reader, so starting with something as mundane as waking up just doesn’t fit that bill. And yes, there are exceptions to every rule, I get that, but I promise everyone thinks they are the exception so I see this opening at least 3x in every 10 queries and I specifically say I don’t want it, so how many times do you think other agents are seeing it? Do yourself a favor and pick a different starting point.

Other pet peeves include: female characters only existence is to prop up that of the male MC, blatant racism/sexism/misogyny/homophobia etc, female characters where their only goal is to find a man to marry them, girl on girl hate, animal cruelty (seriously the dog can’t die), starting with a dream sequence—I told you I had many, LOL.

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

YES! I am super editorial and will go through multiple rounds of edits with clients before sending work out. We also take extra steps to get extra eyes and if needed sensitivity readers before work goes out too.

I think my job isn’t just about this book but helping them become better writers with each book we work on.

How many editors do you go to before giving up on a manuscript?

This really depends on the project and the number of houses/editors that take on the specific genre/age group. But I will exhaust every last resource before “giving up” on something—and even then I wouldn’t call it that because it could just need some time on a shelf and could be brought back out at a later date.

What happens if you don’t sell a book?

As soon as a book goes on submission I start working with my client on the next project. So while one project does it’s go around we are already working on new things. I think the point is to keep moving forward. We can’t wait and see; we have to be like Dory and just keep swimming.

It sucks if it doesn’t sell, but by doing this we will be ready with the next project to go out if that happens.

What do you think of digital books? Are they always included in the contract, now-a-days?

I’m not sure what you mean exactly, but I personally think they are great. They allow me to pack a virtual library when I travel (when I get to travel) without lugging around a bunch of paper. I think in this day and age of technology, paperless books are going to continue to be a thing and be a very important part distribution. They allow readers instant access to work without leaving their homes or waiting for the post to arrive.

Yes, they do always seem to be in contracts these days from what I’ve seen.

What about audio books? Are you seeing an increase of interest with publishers?

I personally love audio books. I see an increase in interest from readers for these books and I do think publishers are taking notice which is great.

Have you noticed any new trends building in the industry?

One trend that I’m not super excited about is this move to make YA books more “mature” and what I mean by that is that they seem to be catering more and more to the adults who read YA, and we are leaving behind a huge audience of actual teens that need these books. I would like to see YA books continue to be FOR teens and that includes dealing with all the things teens deal with.

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

I say this all the time, but critique groups and partners are so important, especially if they write in your same genre/age group. If you are working with a group of serious writers, where their goals are like yours to one day be published, these are the people that are really going to hold you to the fire and make you accountable for the words on the page. Finding your people is an important part of this process, and doesn’t have the price tag like some workshops and conferences—which don’t get me wrong, are great but they can be an expense many writers don’t have.

Also read. I’m sure this is mentioned a lot but reading well in your genre/age group especially what is being published now can help a writer understand what it is publishers are looking for now. And even if you can’t get to the bookstore or library there are apps like Libby or Overdrive that allow you to use your library card and “check out” books virtually. They are amazing.

Would you like to be invited to other writer’s retreats, workshops, and conferences?

Yes! When it’s safe to start doing in person things again I want to go to all the places and meet all the writers face to face. It’s been one thing that I’ve been really missing this past year—getting to connect with the writing community.

*******

ANN’S WISHLIST:

WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR:

YA of all genres: But especially stories that have heart and humor. I want you to transport me to new worlds–even if those “worlds” are in the middle of Iowa. But especially if its fantasy, I really want you to take me there and show me something I haven’t seen before.  I’d love some fantasy that’s based on something other than western cultures. I’m always looking for strong character who are willing to stand up for their convictions–whether it be with their brains or their brawn.

Give me fabulous friendship stories (and some no so fabulous ones). LGBTQIA+ stories!!! I’d still really love a story where two girls are running against each other for class president and then they fall in love.

In both YA and MG: I don’t shy away from stories that deal with issues kids are dealing with today. I will say, if you are going to discuss topics like suicide make sure you’ve done your homework–proper language matters.

I’d love to see more YA thrillers–not necessarily gore but a story that keeps me on the edge of my seat, guessing until the very end. I’m still looking for my YA version of CLUE (and if it has three different endings, even better.) Which means mystery is a go for me, too.

I’d love some YA that deals with toxic masculinity.

A funny how to survive high school book with tips and tricks how to make the most out of your four years would be good.

Show me characters who are beautifully flawed doing the wrong things for all the right reasons.

Give me body positive MC’s.

Unique sports books: crossfit, ultimate Frisbee, rock climbing, mountain biking, roller derby, and even speed walkers.

Oh, and twins: good twins, evil twins, twins that get along, twins that don’t, rom-coms where twins switch places and hijinks happen… anything goes.

Historicals: that tackle things other than WW2–bonus points if there are badass women in history.

MG of all genres, especially ones that push the boundaries of middle grade

All of the above from the YA section pretty much goes for MG, too. There’s not topic off limits here either, just make sure it’s handled in the best possible way. I’d love to see a camping book–and not just where the kids are running around all a muck, but fun camping stories with responsible councilors and s’mores! Sibling stories. Show me supportive older siblings and in tack family units. Families of all shapes and sizes, too. Unicorns? Do you have one in your book or gnomes? Then I want to see it. Kids doing amazing things–like being on competition reality shows and solving climate change. Show me your kid activists, and kids doing things for their communities. Bring me new twists on old troupes.

In the adult arena I’m a little more picky.

I love swoony romances: Any heat level from mild to hot, but not extra spicy. (So, no erotica.) I love slow burns, and enemies to lovers will never grow old. Give me fun and unique meet-cutes. I’d love a romance that starts with texting the wrong number. LGBTQIA+ romances–everyone deserves their happy ending. Give me stories where I’m dying for the characters to get together–don’t make it too easy. Give me your “soft boys” that don’t have six pack abs or the perfect hair.  

Light sci-fi or fantasy: If it’s epic, it’s probably not my jam in the adult arena. I’m not really looking for Tolkien world building or understanding how to build a flux capacitor. Retellings in fresh ways.

Commercial fiction: Heartwarming (or heart wrenching) contemporaries–bonus points if it’s both I’m always looking for unique voices, diverse perspectives, vivid settings, and stories that explore tough topics.

Give me your dark and edgy stories with unlikable characters–that underneath are totally likable. Above all I’m looking for VOICE. It’s the characters themselves that will make me fall in love or not. Plot can be fixed if you have just the right characters to tell the story. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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