Guest Post by: Dana Edwards
Thank you, Middle Grade Mafia, for allowing me to guest blog today! I’m thrilled to interview my agent, Stacey Graham. Stacey’s an agent at Red Sofa Literary and a published author. She’s also a ghostwriter, screenwriter, and a freelance editor! She’s super busy, but she made some time for us today. So sit back on your comfy couch, rocker recliner, or aluminum lawn chair and check out some of Stacey’s musings on middle grade.
Middle Grade Mafia: Let’s first get the really important stuff out of the way. Snacks. Sweet or salty?
Stacey Graham: Cheese!
MGM: You’re a published author! What made you decide to step over the ottoman and onto the sofa?
SG: I was constantly poking my nose into contracts and asking questions as my agent (and now boss) Dawn Frederick worked through our deals. I was fascinated with the business end of writing as well as the creative side and felt that, as an agent, I’d be able to give my clients another perspective as we went through the submission process. I’ve seen both sides now and know when to pass the Cheetos and when to break out the bubbly.
MGM: What do you love about middle grade?
SG: Kids are right on the cusp of discovery. They’re still snuggling with a parent over a book at night, but also ready to strike out on their own with their own interests. Nothing stops them from picking up a book on beekeeping along with one on zombies and another on a transgender child’s stepping into the limelight as a tapdancing superstar (which, by the way, would be awesome if anyone’s writing the tapdancing story).
MGM: What’s your editorial style when working with your agency clients?
SG: I am very hands-on. Coming from a background as a writer of two MG books and an editor myself, I look for ways to make it not only more readable, but memorable as well. Voice and structure are very important to me in MG, and if I feel that if the manuscript has a schlumpy middle, I’ll stare a client down until we work on it to make it better.
MGM: As a writer, I’m sure you’ve experienced rejection. What do you tell your clients about how to best handle it?
SG: Part of being a professional writer is working with rejection: How to interpret feedback, what can you do to make the manuscript stronger the next time the project goes out, and how to appreciate that you’re in the game. Many writers never get to the point of rejection because they don’t hit “send” so when you get an email that thanks you but it wasn’t right for them, high five yourself for getting out there, then file it away and move on to the next.
MGM: What’s something funny from your query pile that made you spew your coffee?
SG: I love a good fart joke. What can I say? I’m a ten-year-old boy. But only for MG. A fart joke in a romance query is just weird.
MGM: What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to querying you?
SG: Not following submission guidelines or ignoring my representative categories.
MGM: What are you looking for right now in middle grade?
SG: I love anything spooky and/or funny for fiction, and I would snap up some fun nonfiction: how-to, crafts, cookbooks for kids. Some special projects I’m looking forward to receiving queries on would be: beekeeping (fiction or non), light MG horror (there is a fine line between okay for tweens and okay for tiny serial killers so don’t get too weird), and nineteenth-century spiritualism (fiction or non).
MGM: How does the future of middle grade look?
SG: Middle grade is booming and the future is bright for MG audio.
MGM: What’s the best way to query you?
Dana Edwards is a middle grade writer by night and a school counselor by day. Her latest wip is about twelve-year-old Bailey who has a ginormous secret—her dad’s in the slammer. And when an Elvis-wannabe becomes the only kid she can trust, she makes a deal – she’ll help him win the talent show if he helps her dig up an outlaw’s grave to search for buried loot. But Elvis just might help her find something better. You can find Dana on Twitter @DanaLEdwards, on Facebook at Dana Edwards, and blogging at Kidliterati.com .