As coordinator of The Sandy Writing contest--Deadline coming up Monday the 15th--I'm fascinated by which of our five genres gain the most entries. In the earlier years of The Sandy Fantasy/SF was the strongest category, and this year it is definitely lagging behind in entries! I wonder why. It certainly can't be because of the lack of a quality final judge. Ginger Clark is a terrific agent. Though I found her for the contest, I now follow her daily twitters--hmmm is that considered stalking? From all my interactions with Ginger and from all I've read about her, I only wish that she represented the genre I write 'cause I'd love to have a shot at enticing her to be my agent. She's attending the June 18-10 Crested Butte Writers Conference and I can't wait to meet her in person. Take a look at the following interview.
Ginger Clark has been a literary agent with Curtis Brown LTD since the fall of 2005. She represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, literary horror, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition to representing her own clients, she also represents British rights for the agency's children's list. Previously, she worked at Writers House for six years as an assistant literary agent. Her first job in publishing was as an editorial assistant at Tor Books. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a member of the Contracts Committee of the AAR. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband
- Which categories do you currently acquire? Which category is your favorite?
I love all genres I represent equally, much like a parent loves all their children equally, right? Currently, on the adult side of my list I represent science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance. On the kids side of my list, I do everything for ages 8 and up—so, middle grade and young adult.
- In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?
Vampire stories that have already been done. If you are going to do vampires, make it fresh (like my client Jeri Smith-Ready and her WVMP novels). I also don’t think hard SF is selling well. I’d love more military SF (for both adult and kids), urban fantasy (again, for both adult and kids) and steampunk for adults.
- Do you accept unagented and/or email queries?
I accept emailed and mailed queries. Keep the letter to a single page, and if you mail it, include an SASE or I will not respond.
- What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial?
Ah, the synopsis question! All writers hate synopses, including my clients. A page or two at the most. It can even be less. Just give me the basics of the plot and tell me the ending. Authors: stop freaking out about synopses.
- What are the compelling elements that you think are necessary for a good
read? What particularly grabs your attention?
The writing has to be excellent, firstly. You also need realistic dialogue and a plot that moves forward. Compelling (not necessarily sympathetic) characters are also required. For young adult, the kids have to sound like kids or it just won’t book—kids are very savvy readers and know when something isn’t realistic.
- Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie.Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?
I hate to admit it, but those authors who I wind up having nice, normal, relaxed conversations with—I usually feel more obligated to give them detailed feedback when I turn down a book, than other authors I might meet. By “nice, normal, relaxed,” I mean the authors I get seated next to at meals, or who pick me up from the airport, and behave like NORMAL people. The authors who track my movements and follow me into restrooms are not behaving NORMALLY and make a bad impression.
- Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc?
Professionalism is by far the most important, and by that I mean—takes revisions well, doesn’t get defensive, is willing to do the lion’s share of their promotion, always tries to be tactful, etc. etc.
- What do you love most about your job?
Giving clients good news that involves money. I also love traveling to places like Bologna, Italy. It’s hard work going to the Bologna Book Fair, but it’s always invigorating to go to a place like that.
- Do you have any pet peeves?
Oh, I have A LOT but here are two: not being patient with me when I have your partial, and calling the agency to see if I have gotten to your query yet.
- What’s your favorite genre/type of:
- Book: Too many to answer.
- Food: Cheese and chocolate, and the order changes on those daily—some days, I love cheese more; on others, it’s chocolate.
- Music: The Police
- Movie: Blade Runner
- Hobbie: Watching very bad and excellent TV (nothing mediocre for me!) and reading FOR FUN.
- What are you addicted to?
Many things: pedicures, British Cadbury, red velvet cake, Twitter, “Mad Men,” “The Wire,” Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter, my winter coat (it’s red and has a high collar), and our Mini Cooper. Oh, and CAFFEINE.
- What have you always wanted to do?
I have always wanted to visit Australia. I have also always wanted to live in New York City, which I do, so that is a dream come true.
- Do you have a favorite quote?
I have tons, but let’s go with one from my Facebook page: "What a fun, sexy time for you."--George Michael, "Arrested Development"