Agent Carolyn Forde on querying, Absinthe & her Wishlist!

Editor’s Note: The winner of last week’s giveaway with author Kate Hilton is Amanda Lee — Congrats, Amanda! Also, this week on The Ball is Agent Week, where each Deb is interviewing her own agent. Check back each day for insider publishing tips from some of the best agents in the business!

I’ve shared my story of how Carolyn became my agent (highlight: she read my book & offered within 48 hours!) a few times before, so will instead talk about how amazing she is — from her enthusiastic, multiple exclamation marks in emails when she’s excited about what I’m doing or something that’s happening, to her wise advice on all things from submission strategies to next books, to her positive “we’ve got this” attitude, to her willingness to indulge my impatience, to her selling of my book(s), to our mutual love of photos of baby hedgehogs in muffin tins (see below), I couldn’t ask for a better partner in this publishing journey.

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Try NOT to love this photo…

But enough from me — here’s what Carolyn has to say about what stands out for her in the slush, and why doing your research is critical for success …

How many pages into a manuscript do you know it’s something you want to represent?

Well, the negative answer can come almost right away. It needs to draw me in, make me care, make me miss my subway stop, make me believe. If I’m still wondering “why do I care about this?” or if I could walk away and never feel compelled to come back by page 50, I usually stop. The decision to represent something is a bit more difficult to describe – I have to have that “I can’t stop reading” feeling, and I must be able to picture editors that I respect and know well react the same way. It’s almost as though the sales strategy starts forming as I read. It’s exciting, once I pass a certain point or if the ms is just that gripping, I can be pretty sure I’ll be offering representation, I just have to make sure it all hangs together and is a satisfying read overall. So, there’s no definite answer here, but the more pages I read, the better the likely outcome because it means the quality is high and it fits my taste.

What querying advice do you have for writers seeking representation?  

Honestly, I have said it SO many times and so does every other agent, but still almost every day I receive queries or unsolicited ms from people who haven’t done their research. DO. YOUR. RESEARCH. It will save everyone time. Yesterday I turned down three separate queries from one woman who wanted an agent to represent her “How To” series about drawing. A quick Google search would reveal my interests and she would have found that topic to be glaringly absent from the list!! There has never been an easier time to research both who would be a good agent for you, and how to craft a good query. If you are serious about being a published author, be serious about all aspects of it, including this part.

What was it about my query and manuscript that made you say, “YES!”

Well, it was very obviously the fact that you are a brilliant writer and everyone should buy your book (Available this September everyone!!). 🙂 In truth though, great writing, a high level of professionalism and that was only complimented by the fact that when we spoke we had a great chat. It was a fit for lots of reasons!

If you were a drink, what drink would you be and why?  

This is tricky. The temptation is to just list a drink I like, but I don’t think that gets to the essence of the meaning behind the question. I guess I’d be an Absinthe cocktail, for its literary connotations, its mystery and elusiveness (right, aspiring writers 🙂 ? )  and for its strong ties to Prague, which I love. But I could just as easily be a double gin and tonic – looks innocent enough, but packs a punch!

What’s currently on your wishlist? How can authors query you?

Well, I find this such a hard question – because I will know it when I see it.  I want a book that I can’t put down.  I want something that’s not overwritten, but is compelling. Your novel is a good example of a powerful book that made me cry. I want to feel – good, bad, angry, sad, whatever – evoke real emotion and you’ve got a winner. Put it in a special time or place or show me something I haven’t seen before and I’ll probably be hooked. Nail the voice. Authors can query me with a one page letter and 10 pages of their book (in the email, no attachments please) through Liz Culotti who runs the office at WCA and helps manage the flow of submissions – her email is wca_office@wcaltd.com.

Thanks Karma (and other Debutantes) for the chance to be on agents week! I hope to make a connection with your readers and maybe find some more debutantes for future years – if that happens Karma, I owe you an Absinthe!

b450867ff1ed2c42dd904d3bf11756cd_400x400Carolyn Forde has been with Westwood Creative Artists since 2005, and represents over 30 authors. Carolyn has also been a speaker at the Surrey International Writers Conference, Muskoka Literary Festival, The DarkLit Literary Festival, The Writers Group of Durham, a mentor at the Ontario Writers Conference and a jury member for Diaspora Dialogues 2012 mentorship selection process. She has lived and worked in Japan, Mexico and the Czech Republic, and is a dual citizen of Canada and the U K (EU). She has wide-ranging tastes – from literary to commercial fiction (womens/literary crossover and thrillers in particular) from serious narrative non-fiction to pop-culture and humour. You can find her on Twitter at @cforde_litagent.

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Karma Brown is the author of COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/Harlequin, September 2015), an emotional story of one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned. Karma is also a National Magazine award-winning journalist, and lives outside Toronto, Canada, with her family and their mischievous labradoodle puppy, Fred.

Author: Karma Brown

Karma Brown is the author of COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/Harlequin, September 2015), an emotional story of one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned. Karma is also a National Magazine award-winning journalist, and lives outside Toronto, Canada, with her family and their mischievous labradoodle puppy, Fred.