Thursday, February 6, 2014

Agentopia: Daniel Lazar

Welcome to the first 2014 Agentopia! For more information and to see other Agentopia posts, click here.

This month Daniel Lazar from Writers House is in the spotlight.

About Daniel:

Writers House is one of the largest literary agencies in the industry. As a company, we represent a wide range of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction.

I'm always on the lookout for distinct fiction and great, lively non-fiction. I represent adult and children's books (and for children's books, I focus mainly on middle grade and YA). For fiction, I love stories that introduce me to new worlds -- or even better, recreate the ones I may already know. I also especially love historical fiction of all kinds. For non-fiction, I enjoy memoirs, narrative non-fiction, all stripes and studies of pop-culture, and even small gifty books that strike my fancy and make me smile. I'm a huge fan of graphic novels and memoirs. And as the oldest child of six who has changed many, many diapers in his life, I'm equally intrigued by any book with unique views on parenting and family life.
If you think your pages can make me hold my breath or miss my subway stop or even laugh out loud, please read my submission guidelines and check out some of my clients' books listed below. I'd love to hear from you.

How to Submit:

I am actively seeking new clients.
** Query letter by email or regular mail with SASE. (Email is usually faster, but either is fine.)
** Please include the first 5 pages of your manuscript with your query letter.
** If you email, NO attachments please, unless requested.
** If you mail, no need to send materials double sealed in bubble wrap.
** We respond to every query -- you'll hear from me or my assistant. And our response time is 1 minute to several weeks.

Daniel's query email: dlazar[at]WritersHouse[dot]com

Daniel was kind enough to answer a few of our questions which should help querying authors get to know him and what he's looking for a little better...

1. What are you looking for in YA submissions right now? 

I’m not looking for anything too specific. I will say that I’m probably not the best agent for something overtly dystopian or paranormal, but hey—you never know! My client Cat Patrick’s books cross a terrific line between paranormal and contemporary thrillers—you can’t put them down. I do love well-crafted, classic-feeling fantasy; my client Rachel Hartman’s SERAPHINA is an exquisitely perfect example. And I’m loving that funny, contemporary fiction is having a renaissance in YA right now, thanks largely to authors like John Green and Rainbow Rowell. My clients Karen Finneyfrock (the upcoming STARBIRD MURHY AND THE WORLD OUTSIDE) and David Arnold (the upcoming—and brilliantly uproarious—MOSQUITOLAND) are great examples of authors whose voices grabbed me and would not let go. And I am always on the lookout for graphic novels and memoirs; my client Laura Lee Gulledge’s work (most recently, WILL & WHIT) is a great example.

2. What's an immediate turn-off in a query, something guaranteed to get the author rejected?

Readers of your blog probably know all the usual melodramatic red-flags. Basically, an author who is clearly spamming every email in the industry and doesn’t appear to have even done a modicum of research about what they’re writing and who they’re contacting.

3. What's the story got to have to make you want to represent it?

Nutella. It must have Nutella. No… Kidding…!  A story has to have a wonderful voice, a real sense of place (whether it’s the moon or next door)—the details, the specificity, the writer’s instinct of showing, never telegraphing, those are the hallmarks of great writers. Don’t say “Samantha was quirky,” say “Samantha loved Nutella on everything; toast, fruit, even pickles.” Don’t say “John was bored,” say “John couldn’t believe the clock was still ticking 3:46.” Or, you know, some more eloquent versions of these; I’m a much better agent than I am writer.

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