Today we have a Q and A with Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary! Mandy specializes in YA and MG fiction. She's also the author of 10 teen novels, written under her own name and the pen name Amanda Grace. Her titles include Prada & Prejudice, You Wish, Fool Me Twice, and But I Love Him, among others. She's currently living happily ever after in her hometown of Enumclaw, Washington, where she watches too much MTV and stays up too late.
Let's start with the basics. How did you become an agent?
I detailed how I became a literary agent over at Pub Crawl: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/09/05/how-to-become-a-literary-agent-in-2-easy-steps/
Long story short, I was an author first with several books published, then got an internship, and eventually connected with Bob Diforio, who was willing to take a chance on me.
Do you find it hard to balance being both an author and an agent, especially as your client list grows?
At times, certainly. Those times usually being the last two weeks of a deadline! But I'll never NOT write, even if it's just for fun. I'm playing with an adult romance right now and finding it fun to switch gears a bit. The nice thing about agenting is that *I* control the size of my client list, so when it feels hard to balance, I'll take a pause on signing any new clients.
Top three things you’d like to see in the slush pile right now?
1) Literary with a hook. Basically, fantastic writing but with a concept that grabs you. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, BEFORE I FALL, IF I STAY, that sort of combination. I work with Jessica Martinez and her KISS KILL VANISH nails it.
2) I love historicals that are built around actual tragedies--the Chicago Fires, or a revolution, or books like BEYOND SHADES OF GREY.
3) A SCREAM-esque, campy YA horror.
Ooh, those sound great. What about things you're done with?
The usual--I can't sell anything that smacks of dystopian, or vampires, or werewolves.
Query pet peeve?
People who either just don't understand queries at all and thus they have no rhyme or reason, or queries for genres I don't even represent. My sub guidelines are pretty narrow. (MG, YA, Romance.)
Is there anything in a book/manuscript that you absolutely can’t tolerate? (Dying kids, unhappy endings, torturing animals, etc)
Hmm, not really. In film I can't stand torture/cruelty but on the page it's not as brutal, for some reason.
How do you think being an author and an agent changes your perspective when it comes to agenting?
I'm pretty editorial, I think. Many agents are, but with my background as an author, I think I can see things from a different POV. I also get the angst and fears and everything that goes along with this career, so I try to dole out the pep talks as often as I can!
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve come across for those in the query trenches?
Just that rejection is very much a part of querying. You have to go into it knowing and expecting you'll receive SOME rejections, so do your best not to stew on them.
Great advice! Do you have any upcoming client releases you want to flail about?
Oh, yes! I've got a few exciting books coming up, including two debuts in July-- Carolyn Adams' RUTHLESS (a girl is stalked through the wilderness by a serial killer), and Lee Bross' TANGLED WEBS (a historical about a girl who disguises herself as Lady A, a woman who trades in blackmail).
Favorite book you’ve read lately, and why?
I'm going to cheat a little bit here because it's a book from a client, but it was done with a packager before I signed her, so I read it as an ARC without a clue as to what I was getting in for. The book is SURVIVE THE NIGHT by Danielle Vega, and it's deliciously creepy and heart-pounding and very twisted.
And lastly, because we're the Misfits, we have to ask, what was your high school moniker, or if you didn't have one, what would it have been if you could choose?
I didn't get an official one or anything, but I was definitely a bookworm. . . at a time that I thought that was a bad thing!