Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 13, 2021

AUGUST AGENT OF THE MONTH: Bre Stephens Interview – Part One

I AM HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE –

BRE STEPHENS IS AUGUST AGENT OF THE MONTH


Bre Stephens – Agent at Jennifer DeChiara:

Bre has 13 years of experience as a writer, publisher, educator, literary judge, and editor. She has worked as an Editor-in-Chief of a literary magazine and has taught university composition, technical writing, and creative writing. Bre holds an MA in English and Creative Writing, an M.Ed. in ESL, and a BA in Art History. In her spare time, she loves attending Japanese festivals and learning more about world cultures.

BRE IS ACTIVELY BUILDING HER LIST. HERE IS WHAT SHE IS LOOKING FOR:

Middle Grade & Young Adult:
Gothic – Horror – Fantasy – Psychological Realism – Detective/Mystery – Slice of Life – Adventure – Coming of Age – Graphic Novels

Non-Fiction:
Art – History – Personal Journey – Healing – Memoirs – Biographies – Self-Help

Adult Fiction:
Gothic – Horror – Speculative – Fantasy – Psychological Realism – Detective/Mystery

NOTE: Anything with a darker tone/theme is especially of interest. VAMPIRES, monsters, inner-struggle, mental health awareness, angels/demons, pirates are all welcome.

What BRE IS NOT LOOKING FOR:
Science Fiction – Cosmic Horror – Weird Horror – Romance – Pandemic Stories

Bre is active on social media. Please feel free to follow her on Twitter (@brelstephens) and Facebook (@BreStephens2019). You can also bookmark her website: brendaleestephens.com.

Submit to bree the following materials through Query Manager: querymanager.com/brestephens

Fiction – Query letter, synopsis, and chapter 1 of MS

Non-Fiction – Query letter, proposal, and chapter 1 of MS

NOTE: I have asked specific questions about your manuscript and you as its author. Take time to answer these questions carefully. There is no right or wrong answer, but, the answer should reflect your creative vision and your identity as an author.

Bre only accepts Query Manager submissions. Emailed queries will be deleted unread, as will queries sent through Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Any queries sent by regular postal mail will also not be considered.

*******

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH BRE:

When did you decide you wanted to become an agent?

I don’t think I ever decided to become an agent. Rather, the occupation itself found me. It began when I had an opportunity to become an assistant to Jennifer De Chiara. I had always pictured myself more of an editor, a publisher – not an agent. But since the two career paths intersect, the training would be great experience and exposure to the business side of traditional publishing. It wasn’t until I began assisting that my heart knew my career path had completely changed. In fact, my editing background is what drove me to agenting. You see, I always have wanted to uplift writers, and when my editing became a tool that could uplift clients, I knew that agenting was how I could contribute to the writing community. JDLA’s motto is “making dreams come true,” and that sums up what agenting means to me. I guess I was destined to be where I am, it just took me a little longer to realize it.

How did you get the job with Jennifer De Chiara Agency?

I originally contacted Jennifer De Chiara about an assistant position. After reviewing my application, she contacted me. On an interview phone call, we hit it off automatically, like we were old friends. I was happy to accept her invitation to be part of her assistant team. After 6 months of training (consisting of working with Jennifer and other JDLA agents), Jennifer promoted me to Associate Literary Agent. I debuted on July 1 – one of the best days of my life.

Have you decided to limit the number of clients you will represent? 

New agents at JDLA typically build lists of 10-20 clients to ensure that clients are taken care of to the best of our abilities. I plan to follow these guidelines, especially since quality of care is of utmost importance to me. I do expect to eventually outgrow this guideline but will never allow my list to grow bigger than I can truly care for.

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

I honestly would love a dark vampire story, one that brings back vampires as the scary beings that prey on humans. I also love darker stories that have supernatural elements to them. And of course, I’d love to read LGBTQ+ and BIPOC stories, especially in horror and fantasy.

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

I lean toward commercial fiction but have an appreciation for literary fiction. I would love a book that does both. It is my belief that you can have deep character motivations (literary) combined with great plot and genre elements (commercial). If an author had a book like this, I would want to read it immediately. Otherwise, I want a book to sweep me up, drag me through the pages, and make me lose my breath – and this would all be plot driven.

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 absolutely think an author should be able to diversify – if they want. An author shouldn’t be stuck in just one genre, though they should have a solid career plan to strategically produce various works. If they want to specialize, I’m for that, too. It all depends on what the author wants out of their career and whether or not they can feasibly handle the workload. I’m here to support both types of writers.

What do you like to see in a submission?

Professionalism, passion, excitement, and personality. I want to see who the author is through the word choice, sentence structure, and tone/mood in their materials. I always ask for a query letter, synopsis, pitch, and supplementary questions. I honestly read everything that they submit, down to the last word, so I’m looking forward to “meeting” the writer for the first time. The submission is a great place to make a wonderful first impression.

How important is the query letter? 

Extremely! No query letter, no acceptance. Writers need to show interest in their work (and agent) before an agent will take a submission seriously. The query letter is a writer’s calling card, a formal introduction. It should be written as such so that the writers get my attention and interested in their work. Writers that fill their query letters with personality and professionalism will always be the most successful. And, as a reminder: Always address the agent by name (Bre, Ms. Stephens); never leave the name black or give a generic greeting (Dear Madame, Dear Agent).

Would you have a sample of a good query letter or a link to one you saw on the Internet?

I have examples but nothing digitally.

Do you have any tips on how to find comps of book to use in a query letter?

First, you should be reading best sellers in your genre. By doing so, you’ll have the experience to compare titles. Second, read up on the best sellers in your genre, know the synopses so you can make comparisons. Third, read reviews of best-selling books in your genre, so you understand the intricate parts of how the story was told; this will help in comparing titles. Bottom line: Read and research your genre. As a writer, you need to know what other writers are doing, especially in your chosen genre.

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

Get the story going on page one, make a strong impression within the first couple of paragraphs, and keep the momentum going through to the end page of the sample. Of course, you have to keep this up in chapter 2 and throughout the rest of the manuscript. If you can do this, I won’t put the book down.

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

I try my best to answer all submissions, but I’m sure there will come a time that I can’t get to every rejection. Currently, I try to respond within 3-4 weeks for a full request and 3-4 months for reading a full manuscript. This includes rejections, for which I will give feedback when needed for improvement purposes.

After you request more of a book, how long do you think it will take to respond?

Typically, 3-4 months.

Do you have any pet peeves, yet?

Not enough to warrant discussion.

PLEASE CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH BRE. Thanks!

*******

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR AUGUST 2021 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “AUGUST 2021 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you put your name, the title of the piece, and genre: a picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, 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 2021 August  – 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. Sending it to my hotmail account will probably keep me from seeing it and including you in the running.

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: August 20th. – noon EST

RESULTS: August 27th.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Like


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