Middle Grade Mafia How did you get started in the literary industry?
Tracey Adams: I’ve never not known it. My family had a printing company in New York City, so I grew up with a love of print and hearing “ink flows through our veins.” I started out in publishing with college internships—first at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and then at William Morrow, where I spent most of my time at Greenwillow Books.
MGM: Not every agent/agency is the best fit for every writer. In your opinion, what should querying authors take into consideration when looking for a good match?
TA: Querying authors should definitely do their homework and research literary agents, agencies, and their styles. They might think about the size of the agency they want to represent them. They should study the agency’s client list, and choose to submit where they think they would feel most comfortable. Remember that the agent/agency literally represents you to the world. I consider that a privilege and a responsibility to live up to.
MGM: If you could describe the Adams Literary Agency in three words, what would they be?
TA: Passionate, dedicated, innovative.
MGM: Authors can spend days agonizing over their query letter. How important is the letter in the submission process and what key things do you look for?
TA: I love when queries mention current clients and/or books, and how the project being queried falls in the tradition of what we represent. It shows that research has been done, and it’s not a cold query, but one that targets us for a specific reason. We are eager for debut authors and are surprised when people think they have to have previously published work. We look for projects that feel fresh and timely, though timeless at the same time. (That’s tough! We know!)
MGM: What are some common mistakes you see in submissions that could be the kiss of death for you?
TA: “Dear Sir.” “Dear [insert another agent’s name.]” In picture books, the most common mistake is submitting text along with art by someone else.
MGM: Has there been a book you have passed on that later on you wished you took on?
TA: Ohhh. We all have that story. I read and recommended a manuscript called THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER to my boss when I was just starting out. I adored it. My boss was too busy and passed on it, and I wasn’t experienced enough yet to take it on myself. OUCH OUCH OUCH!
Thanks to Tracey for taking the time to answer these questions. To find out more about Adams Literary, visit their website and follow them on Twitter.