Laura Biagi – Agent Interview

our_team_biagiI’m so excited that Laura Biagi, literary agent with the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, will be speaking this weekend at our 2015 SCBWI OK Spring Conference. This year’s them is “Ignite the Spark”. In Laura’s talk, entitled “The Spark an Agent Brings to the Table”, she will be discussing “insights from the front line about what literary agents do and what they offer clients”. She’ll also discuss what red flags may make an agent pass on a manuscript, among other issues.

Laura graciously consented to giving an interview here on the blog to entice us with a little preview.

The Interview

Valerie Lawson: What advice would you give to querying writers?

Laura Biagi: One of the more obvious pieces of advice is to do your research on agents so you’re not querying agents who wouldn’t be likely to represent the type of book you’ve written.  But there are many other pieces of advice that writers too often take for granted: Be persistent–not only in submitting to many agents or reworking your query letter to make it the strongest possible, but also in writing new material.

Your writing will keep growing and become stronger the more you write, and sometimes it’s the next book right around the corner that will be your breakthrough.  Prior to querying, make sure your manuscript is as polished as you can possibly make it.  Show your work to your writer friends or anyone else you trust and get their feedback, then incorporate it organically.  Don’t skimp on the time you devote to revisions.  Revisions are usually THE most important part of a successful writer’s process!  Be sure to read very widely in your genre, not only so you know whether your book is unique enough to stand out in the crowded marketplace, but also–and more importantly–so you can learn better how to write with authority and grace and build tension.

VL: Do your research, don’t skimp on revising, and read a wide variety of books. Great advice!

What makes you stop reading a query?

LB: This varies widely depending on the book.  I make sure to consider each query on its own terms.  However, some examples of things that might convince me to pass include stereotypical characters or plots, too many adjectives and adverbs that get in the way of conveying a clear image, too few details about the characters and their relationships with one another (this makes me worry the characters aren’t developed enough in the manuscript), too few details about the plot (this makes me worry the pacing isn’t strong enough and the stakes and conflict aren’t developed enough).

I’ll be discussing more red flags in my talk at the conference–so for more info, please come!

VL: Yes! You definitely don’t want to miss out on this conference!

What’s one major aspect of a manuscript that hooks you? What doesn’t?

LB: What hooks me right away is an immediate voice that cleverly and organically reveals details (even better if they’re unexpected details!) about the characters, setting, situation, etc.

What doesn’t hook me is a tepid opening that feels too familiar or unintriguing or takes too long to reveal its purpose.

VL: What type of manuscript would you love to find in your inbox?

LB: I’d love to find more magical realism YA novels with literary bents.  I’m very interested in books set in the South or Kentucky, as that’s where I’m originally from.  I’d also love to find a literary YA with Romani characters.  I’m searching for more middle grade, too, but the voice, characters, and plot must be stand out; quiet middle grade novels can be very challenging.  I’m also always glad to find more humorous picture books in the vein of Jon Klassen or with heartwarming, big-voiced characters, and early chapter books.

VL: Oh, those are are intriguing ideas – a Romani character in Kentucky. Hmm. Thoughts are churning here…

Tell us what happens after an author signs with you; what’s the next step?

LB: It’s always so exciting after an author signs with me!

If I think the manuscript needs some revision before I submit it out to editors, I’ll send detailed feedback and discuss it all with the author and we’ll work on revising the manuscript until it’s ready.   Then I’ll create a list of the best editors to go to for submissions and get them excited about the book.  There are many more steps afterwards, including negotiating the deal and contract, selling subrights, working with editors on getting my authors the best publicity and marketing possible for their books, and more.

To learn more behind-the-scenes details about what an agent does for her clients, please come to my talk at the conference!

VL: I for one, cannot wait to learn more.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Laura.

Learn more about Laura from her agency bio here.

Follow Laura on Twitter here.

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ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT BEFORE CONFERENCE IS SOLD OUT!

For more details on the conference or to register online, click here. I hope to see you there!

TweetAnd for those who’d like more enticements, another one of our speakers for the conference this up-coming weekend, Editor Erica Finkel of Abrams Books for Young Readers will be our special guest this evening on our 2nd official OK SCBWI Twitter chat! Join us from 7-8pm CST and use the hashtag #okscbwichat. Follow Erica on Twitter here.

***If you missed the chat, CLICK HERE to view the recap on Storify. Enjoy!

How to Make Your Words Count – a TGNA Post

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It’s Writing Wednesday over at The Great Noveling Adventure and I’m discussing ideas to help you make every word count.

Here’s a preview:

There comes a point in the revision process where you can no longer see the verbs for the the clauses. You lose your perspective, along with the will to slash and burn unnecessary words. You may even go slightly mad.

Have no fear!

Newberry award winning author Linda Sue Park has some fantastic ideas to help you change the way you see your story and how to make every word count. I was lucky enough to hear this first-hand at the SCBWI LA summer conference during her keynote speech entitled “The How of It: Making Every Word Count”.

Here are a few of those great ideas that might just save you from setting fire to that beloved manuscript:

To read the full post click here.

TweetRemember to join me every week day morning if you’re an early morning writer and you’d like some motivation to get your writing day started or if you just want some company. I host AM #wordsprints on Twitter @Novel_Adventure.

And you can always  browse through our new forum section to find a critique partner, get your first five pages workshopped, or have your query critiqued.

Writing Scenes with Umph! – a TGNA Post

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It’s List of Five Friday over at The Great Noveling Adventure and I’m discussing how to write believable settings into your work by giving some outstanding examples.

Here’s a preview:

As writers we know it’s important to set the stage for our story, to draw a picture in the reader’s mind of the world we’ve created so effortlessly that they can feel themselves a part of it.

Last weekend, while attending an all day critique event and leading some critique sessions, I found that getting a sense of place across was not an easy task for many beginning writers. The tendency was to include scene description by stopping in a doorway and giving an almost 360° turn around the room, describing all of the objects inside. Not very interesting. I explained how this stops the action cold and slows the pacing to a crawl. I offered some suggestions – a way to incorporate the all-important setting details without overwhelming or boring the reader – such as letting the description flow naturally while your character interacts with the environment. Break it up with action and dialogue. Give the details purpose.

To give some examples of what I’m talking about, and to again highlight why reading is so important for writers, my List of Five Friday is all about the writers who really know how to set a scene…

To read the full post, click here.

 

TweetSince we’re back from the holidays, I’m back to hosting AM #sprints every weekday morning on Twitter @Novel_Adventure. Join me if you need some motivation to get started or if you’d like some companionship as you work on your own great novel.

Feel the Need, the Need for Feedback? (a TGNA promo post)

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When it was my turn to post over at The Great Noveling Adventure, right before our holiday break, I shared an exciting new forum event we started called First Five Pages Workshop. First-Five-PagesThere, you can test out those all important first five pages of your novel and see how they work on a totally objective audience.

Want to know how well your opening pages work? Does the tension keep readers turning pages, wanting more? Or did you make a mistake beginning with that prologue? It never hurts to get some unbiased feedback.

While you’re checking out our new forums, you may notice we have a Critique Partner Connection section, too. If you’ve been looking for a critique partner, this may be the place to find one.

Even if you just stop by to read through the comments, we know you’ll learn a thing or two. The forums are just one more way we’re trying to make TGNA more interactive. Have fun with it and enjoy!

TweetFor those of you looking for the AM morning #sprints on Twitter, they will start back up again shortly after we return from holiday in the new year. Stay tuned!

Gift Ideas That Embrace the Senses – a TGNA Post

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It’s List of Five Friday over at The Great Noveling Adventure and since my husband never knows what to get me for my birthday (which is next week) I thought I’d take the opportunity to drop a not so subtle hint about what he could get me.

If you’re tired of the same old “writerly gifts”, maybe you’ll find these ideas inspiring.

TweetAlso, for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo and needing to meet your word count goals, I run writing #sprints on Twitter every week day morning over @Novel_Adventure. Feel free to join me!

 

Take Your Imagination Out for a Spin – a TGNA Post

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For this Travel Tuesday over at The Great Noveling Adventure, I’m sending everyone to a few fantastic sites that will help ignite their imaginations and get those idea engines cranking.

Looking for some new story generating sites? I’ve got some great suggestions for you. Stop waiting for that next big idea to hit you upside the head. Find it yourself, today.

Have some fun and play with your imagination. After all, that’s what it’s for.

Stop on over and join in the conversation!

 

TweetRemember, when you start working on that next big idea, I host AM #sprints every weekday morning on Twitter over at @Novel_Adventure. Join me if you need some motivation to get started or if you just need some companionship as you work on your own great novel.

 

My Top Five Things for Friday – a TGNA Post

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It’s my turn to post over at the newly relaunched group blog, The Great Noveling Adventure. Since we now have set themes for each day, this is List of 5 Friday. I decided to give everyone a sneak peak at my top five favorite things I learned from the SCBWI LA Summer Conference. For those of you following along with my series of posts here, it’s a nice preview into some of the things I’ll be sharing more in-depth on this blog, coming very soon.

TweetDon’t forget that I’m also hosting AM #sprints every weekday morning on Twitter @Novel_Adventure. Join me if you need some motivation to get started or if you just need some companionship as you work on your own great novel.