I posted a little over a month ago about the YA Novel Discovery Contest. There are a few more days to enter, so get cracking if you've written a YA novel! I interviewed literary agent Regina Brooks of the Serendipity Literary Agency about the contest, her job, and the importance of diversity in YA.
1. Since some of my readers might not know, what does a literary agent do?
An agent is a person who is essentially a manager for an author. They negotiate contracts, help authors understand trends, shop the book and prepare the project to entice editors or publishers. They are also responsible for ensuring you get royalty statements and mediating issues between the author and publisher such as during cover art disputes.
2. Everyone I know in publishing has at least one book they love that never found its audience. What are some underrated gems from your career?
The Making of Dr. Truelove by Derrick Barnes. His book came out well before publishers, librarians, and teachers accepted edgy YA.
3. A contest on the scale of the YA Novel Discovery Contest clearly takes a lot of time and effort to run. Why did the Serendipity Literary Agency decide to start this contest? What are some of the benefits of running the contest?
One huge benefit is that it’s a service to the YA author community. Authors typically get really nervous about pitching whether it’s at a conference or through an online query letter. This contest allows an author’s idea to get in front of an agent without having to pitch.
The reason we only want to see the fist 250 words is because an author should be able to get an agents attention quickly and most agents who have been editing or ageing for years can tell very quickly whether it’s a project that so would be of interest. Serendipity Literary Agency LLC., since its inception, has always been a place for the YA author to feel at home and it a great way to let more people know about our mission.
4. What are some of the other ways you find new writers to represent?
Besides queries, I find new authors at conferences, by referrals from other authors, through Twitter, and in classes that I teach.
5. There's a growing call online for diversity in literature. You've represented Coretta Scott King, Stonewall, and LAMBDA award winners. What makes diversity important to you?
Everyone should have a voice and whatever I can do to help bring as many voices into the marketplace as possible I’m excited to be able to do that. While diversity among young adult authors is growing, there still remains a critical need for more, especially given the changing demographics in the US. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with stories that challenge and inspire an interest in diversity.