The fantastic author and D4EO agent extraordinaire Mandy Hubbard has dropped by today for a pre-competition interview. As an author and an agent, Mandy has fantastic reach and influence in the publishing industry and may be the perfect person to represent your work. She is hosting a agent pitch competition on YAtopia on September 29. So hone your two sentence pitches over the next two weeks! But right now, if you're IN TOO DEEP, GETTING CAUGHT up in queries and YOU WISH that Mandy Hubbard would represent you, then read on (sorry Mandy, BUT I LOVE HIM and PRADA & PREJUDICE where too hard to fit in =P)
1) Tell us a bit about your journey into writing?
I really began as a reader-- first with books, of course, and later on fictionpress.com. It's a site for novice writers. After spending several weeks reading stories, I decided to try writing one. Over the next few years, I wrote a half-dozen novels. I had never actually considered myself to BE a writer until much later.
2) RIPPLE is your latest release, would you share with us how you came up with the concept?
I had wanted to do something with more fantasy or paranormal elements, but I wanted it to be grounded in the real world. I decided the main character would be half normal, half otherworldy. It was just a matter of what kind of otherworldly. I used wikipedia to decide on a siren.
3) You cowrote GETTING CAUGHT with Cyn Balog. Would you share with us a bit about the book and the cowriting experience?
Cowriting is such a blast! It combines writing and reading into one experience. I loved it. I wish Cyn could write half of all my novels. :-) The book is about two teens in a prank war that will only end when one of them gets caught. It's contemporary, humorous, with a big focus on friendship.
4) How did agenting become a part of your career?
Back when I was on submission, I had a big involvement in the submission process. I probably drove my agent nuts. One of the first offers I ever received for Prada & Prejudice was from an editor I chose. By the time BUT I LOVE HIM went onto submissions, my agent just let me choose who I wanted it to go to. As time went on, I became involved with a number of writer friend's projects-- helping them through extensive revisions and watching them land agents quickly thereafter. So when an internship opened up, I jumped on it. Interning confirmed my love, and I found an agency to join fairly soon thereafter. It's been a blast! I love the business side as much as the creative side.
5) How do you balance your agenting work with your own writing?
I get up early. I stay up late. I juggle. It's hard to stay creative for more than an hour or two at a time, so it tends to be a back-and-forth thing. I write for an hour until 8AM, and then switch to business mode. Then I write again late at night, after 8:30pm.
6) To give writers an idea of your tastes, what recent releases/authors do you wish were on your client list?
I LOVED Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. It used history in such a modern way. THE LIARY SOCEITY by Lisa and Laura Roecker is Ah-Maz-Ing. Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley is a great contemporary story with a big hook. I'd kill for a contemp romance author who mastered the tension and sexiness of Jennifer Echols or Simone Elkeles. Still searching for a mystery or suspense.
7) What are the biggest mistakes you see in queries?
There are a lot of obvious mistakes, and those are easy to fix-- typos, targeting the wrong agents, focusing more on yourself than the book, being too wordy, etc. The hard thing is that probably 50% of queries don't make any obvious mistakes, they just sound boring, hum-drum. You have to work hard to craft a query that sounds intriguing and different. It's truly an artform.
8) What stories are you hanging out to see in the YAtopia pitch competition?
Pitch contests like this are hard for the more literary works, but sometimes people just nail it-- there's beauty in a pitch, even in just a couple of sentences. Those always impress me. I'd love something new and fresh under the fantasy umbrella, whether that's Sci-Fi, Epic, etc. And something girly and MG with a big hook!
9) What is an "ultimate" query to you?
Occasionally one strikes a real chord, and I can't request it fast enough. I saw Beth Revis' ACROSS THE UNIVERSE as an intern, and couldn't send it along fast enough. It blew me away. Queries like that are one in a thousand. But so worth the work to find them!