Brief Talk with the Agents of Query Roulette 2015–Part Two

Brief Talk with the Agents of Query Roulette 2015–Part Two

WNBA-NYC’s Query Roulette—where a writer’s rough query letter can be fixed and turned into a gateway towards a successful book deal! Here is a continuation of this year’s agent profiles, offering information relating to their genres, background, query letter preferences, and the opportunity to offer other additional information that would pique the interest of our readers (and writers!) — By Rachel Weiss-Feldman


JENNIFER WELTZ (Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc.).

Jennifer WeltzWith 20 years as an agent, Jennifer has made over 2,000 domestic, international and film deals for fiction, non-fiction, Children’s, Middle Grade and YA authors and titles. An active voice in the book publishing industry, Jennifer serves on the International Committee for the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), and is on the Advisory Boards of the Pace University Masters in Publishing program and the Digital Bookworld Conference Council.

Can you tell us about an upcoming author/title you have recently sold?
Mort(e) by Robert Repino is about ants taking over the world and a gun toting cat and has been described as bat shit crazy, but wonderful, with rave reviews and amazing coverage.  This is a debut author at a small press, which makes it all the more exciting.

What trends in Young Adult do you see coming down the way–any new authors/titles/themes that are getting attention?
Contemporary realistic, which used to be the poor cousin, is now front a center because of authors like Rainbow Rowell and John Green.  I recently sold at auction a wonderful contemporary book called Not If I See You First by debut author Eric Lindstrom where the voice of the main character grabs you from the first few lines .  This will be a lead title for Little, Brown Kids in December of this year.

Any recent conferences you’ve attended/spoke at?
Recently I have been speaking at Masters programs based in the US and Canada.  The room is usually a mix of people who are aspiring writers as well as future publishing people.

Anything else you would like to let our readers [and writers] know?
Having been in the book biz for over 20 years, I love to be surprised with original ideas, twists, and thoughts but above everything else, their must be solid writing, a compelling plot and great voice.

Follow Jennifer’s agency on Twitter @JVNLA

JENNIFER UDDEN (Donald Maass Literary Agency).

If you need query letter help for one of the various Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, Jennifer Udden is a choice for you! She represents speculative fiction (both science fiction and fantasy), urban fantasy, and mysteries, as well as historical, erotic, contemporary, and paranormal romance. Jennifer graduated from Mount Holyoke College and previously worked in nonprofit arts fundraising. She is actively seeking diversity in projects and in authors, including (but not limited to) diversity of gender, sexuality, ability, background, and race.

What new/popular trends do you see in Sci-Fi Fantasy?
I think we are seeing a hunger for big epic fantasy that can catch on like Game of Thrones, but I am very excited about the changes in world building that we are seeing. I think editors are looking for a change from the traditional medieval European belied world and looking for something new and innovative in a fantasy world. For sci-fi I see space opera making a big comeback in the vein of The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey.

For you to take on a self-published author, what would they need to be able to show you?
They’d need to show me strong sales, reader engagement, and a new project that they haven’t indie-published yet.

Any conferences or panels you’ve recently participated in and/or participating in the near future?
I am giving a workshop at the Moravian Writers Conference, attending Pike’s Peak, Emerald City RWA, and Worldcon.

Anything else you would like to let our readers [and writers] know?
I am a Texas girl, so I am always excited to see a story set in Texas (in any genre!) I’m actively looking to expand my YA list, especially for YA fantasy. And growing up in the theater means I have a hankering for a great theater novel.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter @suddenlyjen


JOSH GETZLER (Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency).

Before becoming an agent in 2006, Josh spent 11 years owning and Josh Getzleroperating a minor league baseball team, the Staten Island Yankees. In 2011, he partnered with Carrie Hannigan and Jesseca Salky to form the agency, HSG. The genre list that Josh works with is extensive but particular: he likes foreign and historical fiction, women’s fiction, straight-ahead historical fiction, thrillers and mysteries. For middle grade and YA: mysteries and adventure stories, strong contemporary girl books, and well thought-out re-tellings of classics. In nonfiction, he’s interested in increasing his list in history, business, and political thought.


What do you not like to see in a query letter?
I don’t need to see a long synopsis. I want a short letter—3 or 4 paragraphs—with an intro saying what kind of book it is, how long (approximately!), and why ME? Second paragraph should be a short plot description—not a play-by-play. Third should be who the author is, but not whether the author is married, has children or cats, or enjoys the flute–unless the book is about a cat-owning flautist! I don’t want outlandish comps—I don’t need to know that your YA is a combo of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. I don’t want self-deprecation (“I know you must get 4 million queries a day, and I know you must be sick of sparkly vampires, but…”) and I don’t want rhetorical questions as hooks (“How would you feel if your third cousin killed JFK?” “What if the world were slowly being taken over by termites?”). I don’t want cute or guesswork. I want enough info to be intrigued and want to read the first five pages. Oh yes, I don’t want the middle of the book as the sample. I want the beginning. I’m a reader. I start on page one like everyone else.

Given your extensive background in the business of sports, what advice would you have for someone writing a sports themed novel—adult or YA?
My advice is that while it may be around sports, the sport needs to be almost metaphorical or otherwise incidental. Their needs to be an amazing hook for it, since conventional wisdom is that sports books don’t sell well. However, if it’s women’s fiction centered on a sport (and if the play-by-play is minimal) then you might have a chance. Guy fiction about sports tends to be very difficult to sell. YA sports fiction would have to be romance, or otherwise, again, have sports in it but not be about sports. It’s a really tough genre.

What is the best historical fiction novel you’ve read or worked on in the past year?
The Blood of the Fifth Knight by EM Powell and The Witch Hunter’s Tale by Sam Thomas in terms of books I represented; Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel in terms of non-HSG books I’ve read. Also Imperium by Robert Harris. They all taught me, entertained me, and were utterly believable.

Anything else you would like to let our readers [and writers] know?
I’d love a great French Revolution novel, or a book around rock music. Workplace fiction is great, as well as domestic suspense.

Follow Josh on Twitter @JGetzler


Query Roulette 2015 is on Tuesday, March 3. To find out more, CLICK HERE.


Rachel Weiss-Feldman is the Membership Chairperson for the WNBA-NYC Chapter and spearhead of Query Roulette 2015. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelWF




About Rachel Feldman

Rachel Feldman is the Membership Chairperson for the WNBA-NYC Chapter. She is also the spearhead of the annual Query Roulette fundraiser. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelWF

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