This is a very exciting guest post I have for everyone. For those that have followed my blog for a while you’ll know that I have recently signed a contract with the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency. My esteemed agent is Meredith Brown and she’s been great, helping me get my first book ready to shop around.
To celebrate all of this, Meredith has agreed — after much prodding and gnashing of teeth — to write a guest post for me. She touches on what she looks for in a manuscript, what she’s currently looking to represent, and of course her email if you have anything you’d like to submit.
Without making you all wait any longer, here is Meredith.
Hey y’all! My name’s Meredith Brown, and I’m your friendly neighborhood agent, here to talk about agent-ing and also give you guys a little bit of info about who I am and such. So, I suppose I’ll start with the basics. I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and immediately knew I wanted to go into the publishing world. I spent my college career as a copy editor for my school paper and have been editing my mother’s stories and so it just seemed very natural for me to continue doing that, but for people I didn’t know personally.
Anyway, I lucked out in the way I got my job as literary agent; I’ve known Holly McClure since I was a toddler and she knew I would be great as her employee. I’m also the only person at her agency who reads fantasy and science fiction, so that’s an addition to her company (Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency) that I was able to bring. Also, now y’all know what sort of things I accept! I honestly don’t care if it’s aimed at the adult, YA, or children’s category. I only care if it’s well-written and hooks me in! I also definitely enjoy reading other genres, especially anything YA (I have a love affair with David Levithan and John Green, to name a few), so you can also feel free to just send me a pitch and I’ll look it over and let you know what I think.
On that note, you may be wondering what I look for in a manuscript. As I said, it definitely helps to be well-written and to have a great hook. Well-written, by the way, does not mean perfectly written. No one’s perfect, not even me, and I’m a grammar-obsessed copy editor-cum-writer-cum-lit agent. Basically, it’s totally fine if you have some typos and maybe muddle up some grammatical stuff. But! That doesn’t mean it should be sloppy. I’m not saying it can’t be your first draft, because I don’t know how y’all work. For me, my first draft is actually pretty edited, because I tend to over-analyse and go back and make sure everything flows as I’m writing. Some people don’t do that because they just need to get it out of them in one fell swoop and then go back in and edit. That’s totally fine! I hear the latter is actually how Neil Gaiman works, so you’re definitely in good company. Anwyay! Point being, just make sure that it’s fairly clean and is a good representation of your work. Honestly, as long as the story’s there and the beginning has a good hook, I’m willing to forgive a lot more.
Oh, and one last thing, please please please don’t have your main character waking up as the beginning. It’s clichéd and just kind of lazy. But, you already knew that, right? If you need a bit more guidance than that, here’s something I’ve learned. Write your beginning the way it first comes out of you. Now, most people will talk their way into a great beginning, but it won’t be the first thing you write. So, read it over and find that crazy-good first line. Usually it’s in the middle of when the action starts, not the actual beginning. I hope that made sense! It makes more sense once you do it, I promise. Oh, and do try not to start off with an expletive, either. You need to gain the reader’s trust before doing that, even if your character is a potty mouth (trust me, I made this mistake A LOT in my creative writing classes).
I’m definitely currently open to submissions. My work email is firstname.lastname@example.org. It might take me a few days to respond, but I do read every submission I receive.
I’d like to thank Meredith for giving us some insight and — of course — picking my manuscript up and seeing in it the chance to go to the very top. Thanks, Meredith.