Just when you thought the YA/MG Agent Series was over—BAM! An interview with Sara Crowe, literary agent with Harvey Klinger, Inc.
Sara represents NYT bestselling author Jonathan Maberry and USA Today Bestselling author Jeff Hirsch, as well as Nina LaCour, Michael Northrop, Lisa Schroeder, and Dan Wells, to name a few. Her clients have been nominated for Edgars and the Morris award, and have made it onto the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults list. All that, and she is consistently ranked among the top 3 best YA agents in Publishers Marketplace. I could say so much more about Sara, but I won’t. Mostly because typing this bio has caused me to reflect morosely on my own list of accomplishments. But I digress!
Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview, Sara! My first question: Is there anything you’re sick of seeing in the slush pile?
This changes all the time. Last year, I would have said angels-- it was 20 angels a day sometimes. They are still big, but at this moment, I am probably rejecting dystopian YAs the most, as I get so many queries of it, and my list feels full on that front. But vampires, zombies and angels still make up a huge amount. And I love zombies, but with the ROT & RUIN series on my list, I am not really in the market for more.
What are the biggest mistakes you see first time authors making?
Querying too soon. Be ready! Make sure the query makes sense. Read it to your friends.
What would be your number one piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Do not give up. You just can't. If your book is amazing, it will find an agent and a publisher. I truly believe this. We all believe this, which is why we stay in this business. I turn down books that will sell-- that do go on to sell, because I have a full list, and I have to be selective and honest about what I can sell. But a rejection does not mean your book is not saleable.
But the other side of this is that you need to keep growing as a writer-- keep revising, be open to feedback from editors, agents and other writers when you get it. I have taken on at least two books that I had previously rejected after authors revised them.
We always hear that an author shouldn’t write to trend (and so please feel free to slap my hand for asking), but can you tell us what you see as being the next Big Thing in YA?
Oh, I am not sure we know where things are headed, which I think keeps things exciting. I am happy to see contemporary realistic stories going strong. I'd say at this moment, realistic thrillers and Sci-Fi are the big things.
More and more we hear about brick and mortar bookstores going under, and about the rising popularity of ebooks. Do you think print books will become a thing of the past?
I do think print runs will get smaller, but I think there will still be a place for printed books.
Occasionally we hear about authors who have been widely rejected by agents and/or editors, only to go on to be very successful. Have you ever passed on a book and then come to regret it, or do you remain firm in your original decision?
Oh I think all agents have a big book that got away. But this makes me laugh as I actually get so many angry responses to rejections that say, You will be sorry. And I do not think I have ever truly been sorry. Of course, it stings to see a book sell for a huge amount of money that you did not love-- but when it comes down to it, I have to love the work, as I read my client's books over and over again!
I am heartbroken still about books I competed for and lost-- two in particular--because I did love them!! But I still feel like they are mine, too, and get excited when they get great reviews, etc.
What is the best way for authors to contact you?
Email! I read my email queries daily and respond very quickly. People still mail me queries even though I say everywhere to please not do so. Those wait all year for summer interns :)
Thanks again, Sara! It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Thank you, Michelle!!