Hi, everyone! Today I’m sharing an interview with Megan Manzano, an agent representing Kidlit over at D4EO Literary Agency.
Hi, Megan! Thanks so much for your time.
When you see a pitch on Twitter, what grabs you to the point of requesting more?
Megan Manzano: Stakes are so important for a Twitter pitch especially when you have a limited number of words to pitch your book. I want to see the hook, aka what your character has to lose and/or fight for, that makes me unable to get it out of my head.
When you request for more pages, is there anything in common with those successful queries?
MM: Usually the character has a strong voice or the author has done a great job of integrating me into the main character’s life and wants. It then allows me to start piecing together how we’re going to get to the inciting incident. Similar to what I look for in a pitch, I look for a connection to a character to keep me reading and make me want to know what happens next.
Have you seen any trends in your inbox lately that you’re willing to share?
MM: I’ve seen an uptick of MG submissions in my inbox which I’m beyond happy about. I’ve also seen a consistent flow of YA Fantasy submissions. The latter probably makes up about forty-fifty percent of my queries.
Have you seen any common errors/problems in the queries that land in your inbox?
MM: All the time. Most often, it’s not submitting a proper query by either giving me way too much information about your book where I can’t narrow down the character/stakes/market or giving me no information at all.
I have a whole page of resources if you’re struggling to write a query and/or synopsis here!
How about common problems in the first pages?
MM: Here are the most common I see in my inbox:
- Starting too soon – Jumping into the story too close to the action where I haven’t been able to get to know your characters or their world
- Info dumping – Where the opening of your story is a summary of everything about your characters or everything about your world. It doesn’t read naturally to a reader and instead feels more like a lecture
- Heavy Dialogue/Little Description – When opening pages consists of a ton of dialogue but not enough sensory details or description to ground us a reader to where we are and who we’re following
- Telling versus Showing – This is when it feels like we’re getting a list of what your character does/thinks instead of being shown their personality through their senses, actions, internal thought, or relationships to their world and other characters.
Is there anything you’ve been craving to see in your inbox these days? Any specific genre, trope, magic power, esoteric historical figure, etc?
MM: I would absolutely love some more contemporary fantasy in my inbox as this is one of my favorite subgenres of fantasy. I’d also love works by Latinx writers. I’m half Puerto-Rican and haven’t seen enough of these stories that remind me of my family and their culture.
What is something you wish querying writers knew (i.e. about you, querying, the market, etc)?
MM: Please be patient and kind with agents. Most of us don’t agent full time and often have another job, side hustles, and personal responsibilities on top of agenting. Most of us get paid by commision only so if we don’t sell books, we don’t make money. Our clients have to come first above all else.
Do agents/agencies have a blacklist for querying writers? What would put an author on that blacklist?
MM: Agents do have their own blacklists, which can sound super scary and intimidating to writers, but it takes a lot to get onto a list. Basically a writer has to be incredibly rude, not follow submission guidelines (resubmitting a rejected query after making no revisions over and over, subbing to every agent in an agency, sending queries to their personal email or platforms, etc). Be professional, follow guidelines, and you’ll be more than okay.
Do you have any advice for authors who write in a variety of genres and age categories–i.e. Middle grade contemporary and Adult thrillers?
MM: Be upfront about the genres and age categories you’d like to write if you get an offer of representation. Some agents represent a wide variety of genres. Some don’t. Some will bring on a co-agent. Some writers may consider getting two agents to represent them across genres. Have a plan for your career and understand who will best fit that going forward.
Would you describe yourself as an editorial agent?
MM: Absolutely. With every manuscript I read, I take notes about plot structure, character development, pacing, etc. If I offer and a client chooses to work with me, I will go over the notes I have with them via an edit letter and then on a call so we can brainstorm how to work through them. I like the editing process to be a collaborative experience so the author’s message doesn’t get lost, but also so they understand where I’m coming from.
For some manuscripts, it may be one round of edits. For others, it may be multiple. I basically want to get the manuscript as close to perfect as possible.
What is the best part about being an agent?
MM: I love being able to work with authors so closely and get them one step closer to their dreams. The idea of an author holding their published book makes me happier than words.
What does it take for you to send a request for an author to revise and resubmit?
MM: I offer a R&R when I fall in love with a story’s concept and characters, but still see major issues with the overall developmental structure. Usually my notes will involve a huge rewrite which isn’t always feasible for an agent to work on with an author in between other jobs, other clients, and personal responsibilities. A R&R is a way for an agent to say they see huge potential in an author’s work and would like to see how they’re able to revise and elevate the story.
What is a book you’ve been OBSESSED with lately?
MM: I’ve been obsessed with The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman. I just finished Deck of Omens, the sequel, and it makes me yearn for more contemporary fantasy with angsty af characters. I’m so weak for angst.
Thank you so much for your time!
MM: Thank you for having me 🙂