Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One top-notch NYC agent

Today we have Dan Lazar in the hot seat!

Dan is a senior agent with Writers House, and he represents authors who write for adults and children. More info on this hard-working, very personable agent can be found on his PublishersMarketplace page and on Agent Query.

Dan, what gets your attention in a query/submission? In other words, do you know in the first line, first page, or do you continue reading, hoping something pops in your mind and you say, “This is great!”

In a query letter, you want to be evocative and specific. Don't say, "Jane Doe is quirky." Instead, say "Jane Doe likes polka dots and never steps on cracks." It can be hard to pin down a plot in just a few lines, but if you can bring the letter to life with atmospheric details from your story, the voice will shine through. As for what works in a submission, see Question #4.

What books were your favorites as a kid? What are your favorites now?

As a kid, I must have read THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH a hundred times. I also loved Avi (I actually just reread WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN ANYWAY!), Lloyd Alexander, Bruce Coville, Gordon Korman. I'll even admit that I read my sister's copies of Babysitters Club and All American Girls... Some of my favorite books I've read in recent years include MIDDLESEX, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, BROKEN FOR YOU (which I worked on) and STIFF.

Anything special you’re looking for?

Middle grade and YA-- but middle grade especially. I'm very hungry for boy middle grade. We need more!

Tell us the first sentence of a book you fell in love with:

I'm going to cheat and slip in 2! Two of my beloved middle grade authors won me over with these first lines:

SAVVY by Ingrid Law opens with:
"When my brother Fish turned Thirteen, we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact that he'd caused it."

And THE CHICKEN DANCE by Jacques Couvillon opens with:
"My sister's name was Dawn, and my mother said she was named that because when she was born it was like the sun had just risen. My name is Stanley."

Thanks for stopping by, Dan!

Another miniview (a.k.a mini-interview) appears tomorrow. We'll feature a debut novelist from the Class of 2k9. We know that 2009 seems like a long way off, but that class is working hard already!


Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Great idea! I can't wait to read more. :)

Kristin Tubb said...

Can't wait to read Savvy - love that first line!

Thanks for the interview!

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize SAVVY was a "Daniel Lazar" book. (Ingrid Law who?! As if we, the writers, mean anything to anyone anyway.) ;> I just borrowed SAVVY from the library this evening. I'm staring at the gorgeous cover as we type.

I love the flap copy for this book, particularly Ms. Law's biographical information. Please tell me she wrote that copy herself. If that's representative of her writing style, I know I am going to totally enjoy her novel. (Does she really live in a "Ploppy" mobile?) ;}

Ah yes...I see I am in for a sweet ride and read. I need that more than anything these days.

I love these cosmic moments.