First of all, a Tremendous Thanks and Shout Out to Literary Agent Paige Wheeler for this Fabulous interview!
And to add to the excitement here in Richmond at James River Writers -
We've just found out that the amazing graphic designer Chip Kidd will be available for both a TED-style talk during the conference AND for an interview-style panel on Saturday afternoon, October 19. If you know any graphic design folks, they will certainly recognize his name, and they might be interested in the one day ticket for $170.00.
Additionally, thanks to our partnership with the Library of Virginia, Lee Smith will also be doing an interview-style panel on Saturday, October 19.
So, there will definitely be a lot happening on Saturday of the Conference, but don’t forget all the things happening on Sunday at the Conference [Including I am moderating a great session on Sunday!]
Just cause to come to the Full Conference.
Not to mention, you should Definitely check out the Friday Workshops, the ones still open, Especially after you finish reading the great interview below with Lit. Agent Paige Wheeler who promises some Tip Sheets, References, and Tricks up her sleeve! [Need to go see if that’s full yet!]
Here is a link for conference registration
And if you can’t wait till October, check this out, while you are waiting -
This Thursday, September 26, we have Dean King, his New York editor, and his History Channel producer from California on stage for The Writing Show. It is the last one of the year, and we're trying to end with a bang and a big crowd. Tickets are still $10 in advance and $12 at the door: the best deal in town!
For the first time ever, we have JRW t-shirts for sale through Bonfire Funds. It's a great logo that promotes writing in RVA, so there might be people beyond James River Writers who will be excited about it! We need to sell 50 shirts by October 6 in order for them to be printed. You can't tell from the picture, but long sleeve shirts and hoodies are available as well.
And Now On to the Great Interview ! .........
Interview with Literary Agent Paige Wheeler:
I see from your bio’ on the James River Writers website that you represent fiction and non-fiction.
“Currently she represents international and award-winning authors in commercial fiction, and upscale fiction, which includes women’s fiction, mysteries, thrillers, psychological suspense; as well as narrative nonfiction and prescriptive nonfiction including self-help, how-to, business, pop-culture, popular reference projects and women’s issues.”
Is there something you are really wanting to see from new authors that might be pitching and querying you?
[Other than studying all the great links and resources you have on the FolioLit website!]
Answer: For fiction, I’m looking for an intriguing plot that makes me wonder, “how is the author going to successfully pull this off?” I’m also drawn to incredibly fresh and vibrant voices, stories in which the character just sucks me in and I can’t possibly put the manuscript down. If an author could combine the unique plot with the vibrant voice—then I’m all over the manuscript.
For nonfiction, I’m looking for thoughtful proposals on fascinating subjects that make we want to talk nonstop about the project. This can be anything from a intriguing memoir or historical nonfiction or pop culture. Ultimately, I want to learn something or be transformed in some way after reading the manuscript. Some examples of this would include Jim Minick’s THE BLUEBERRY YEARS (a VA college professor attempts to homestead his land, living off an organic blueberry farm); Mary Cantando’s LEADING WITH CARE – How women around the world are inspiring Businesses, Empowering communities and Creating opportunity; an upcoming title, Deborrah Himsel’s BEAUTY QUEEN, a book about the reign of Avon CEO Andrea Jung’s rise and fall; IN THE BELLY OF THE ELEPHANT by Susan Corbett is the story of one woman’s journey to Africa to work for the peace corp and how she was transformed by the experience.
Could you give us your definition, and some examples, of what you are looking for in fiction? There is mention of commercial fiction, and upscale fiction. Can you give us some helpful examples to go by?
A: Commercial fiction is generally plot-driven or character-driven material that is entertaining and well written. Some examples are David Baldacci, Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, Nicholas Sparks, etc. Upscale fiction can also incorporate a unique plot or engaging character but the writing is as much the focus as the plot or character arc. Some examples would include Adriana Trigiani, Elizabeth Strout, Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri.
You give a good description of what you call prescriptive nonfiction. [And Thank you for that.] For those that aren’t exactly sure what narrative nonfiction is, would you give us a couple of examples.
A: A couple of examples of popular narrative nonfiction would include DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Eric Larson; IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot; and SEABISCUIT by Laura Hillenbrand. I love narrative nonfiction—it tells an intriguing story in an entertaining way. IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote is probably one of the best examples of narrative nonfiction, but I also bring up INTO THIN AIR by Jon Krakauer as another great example of narrative nonfiction.
What would you like people coming to the James River Writers Conference in October to know about meeting, pitching, and / or querying you?
A: First, I’m really not threatening at all, so don’t be nervous! Second, you should feel comfortable enough about (and with) your project that we can converse easily about it. You should be THAT familiar with it that any questions I may have can be easily answered. Finally, if I happen to pass on your project, realize that I’m passing on that PROJECT and not you as a writer. I welcome queries for new projects from authors who have previously pitched to me.
I really want to fall in love with a project! What that means is that I’m looking for material that I am willing to spend a lot of time on—even if it takes longer to make a sale than anticipated.
I have 40 titles coming out in 2013 and most of my authors have been working with me for years. I’m selective about who I represent, but it usually means that we will work together for many, many years and develop a lasting relationship.
You have a workshop scheduled for the Friday before the JRW Conference, on October 18, 2013, can you give us some teasers of why everyone’s going to want to sign up for it? [Or already has. Workshops are going Fast.]
A: I’m focusing on Career Novelists because that’s the dream of so many fiction writers. Who doesn’t want to quit their day job and write mega hit after mega hit? In my workshop, I’ll outline the Essential Elements of Career Novelists and the skill set that writers need to acquire in order to have a long and successful career as a published author. I have tip sheets, references and tricks up my sleeve to share with the audience.
The publishing world has been in such turmoil and flux for a few years now with agents and writers trying to figure out their roles with each other.
And the choices and decisions facing authors, such as, to self-publish or look for agent representation. Or to keep looking for it.
Would you give us some of your thoughts on this changing world, and words of wisdom?
A: It’s an exciting era to be in publishing! I think I will look back on this and be proud that I’ve navigated these tumultuous times and have been a part of such change!
I think that an author needs to decide what is best for him or her. We all have different goals and skill sets, so the course that may be right for one author may be entirely wrong for another. I have many authors who are established and enjoy the role that traditional publishing plays in launching and maintaining their career. I have other authors who have hit a list and have decided that they want more control over publishing decisions, so have opted for a hybrid career. Some authors really want and need the editorial and stylistic support that traditional publishing entails and others do not. Of course I think the role of an agent is vital---and I’ll give some tips during my workshop on why I think it’s critical to have an agent on your side. Ultimately, the industry is definitely experiencing dramatic change and I think authors, editors and agents are eager to embrace the changes if it means better access to wonderfully written books and an increase in readership.
Any predictions or thoughts on possible trends coming that we as writers might be able to take advantage of now?
A: I think the only trend that I can really predict with any accuracy is the importance of an author being able to create a platform. This is true both in fiction as well as nonfiction. The concept of platform has changed, though, over the past few years. A few years ago, platform meant name recognition that was already established within households. Now, it’s the ability to quickly create that recognition—usually through a network of well-placed friends and social media. So, what can you do now? Lay the groundwork and create a network that’s ready to promote your book.
Here is a link for conference registration
I Know you are ready for it now!
Thanks again to Paige Wheeler for the wonderful interview. See you at the Conference, and hopefully your Workshop, in a few short weeks!