To kick off my newest series, I am thrilled to welcome Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency, who is here to tell us where querying writers go wrong, what she’d love to see in her inbox, and to remind us how amazing the Sweet Valley High books were.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see in queries?
Addressing me by the wrong name is kinda common–and a complete mistake! (It’s a pet peeve of mine and will cause me to reject you right off the bat.)
What are some of the most common mistakes you see in a writer’s sample pages?
Misspellings! OMG, people! Use spell check!–and I’m not talking about one typo or a typo here and, even, there–we all make mistakes …
For the last few years, many agents have shied away from worn-out YA subjects like vampires, werewolves and dystopians. Is there anything you’re seeing a little too much of in your inbox lately?
Well, I like reality-based YA so I tend to get queries like the regular girl becomes a superstar/some sort of celebrity–a lot of rock star queries (girls becoming rockers or dating them … Oh! Dating the guyliner-wearing, sensitive, poet-alt rocker is so blech!–to me … There’s more to a girl than who she dates, you know?–off topic!–another discussion!) or even girls becoming actresses/reality stars … I also get a lot of books set in the 1980s (thanks Rainbow Rowell) or even books that have the alt sound from the 1980s (again, thanks Rainbow!–everyone thinks their book is the next Eleanor & Park and I do not want the next Eleanor & Park–no matter how good.) I also side-eye queries set in the 60s.
Is there anything you’d LOVE to see in your inbox?
I would absolutely LOVE some sort of YA about homegrown terrorism/anarchy/some sort of Black Bloc group—kinda like the movie “The East.” A bit “Hippies Gone Wrong” or “Gutter punks/squatters Gone Wrong”–good intentions but, maybe (to some–who am I to judge?) bad execution. Or some YA about a dark/secret society. (I could get into an idea about a bitchy/dark sorority … Hazing gone wrong, maybe?—not some “Afterschool Special” about the dangers of drinking too much either, please!)
I also rewatched that movie “Heavenly Creatures” and randomly have seen that “I Killed My BFF” show on Lifetime and would LOVE to find a story that explores a close/weirdly close friendship/relationship between 2 kids …
And, for what it’s worth, I am an “American Horror Story” fan–BIG TIME.
If a writer doesn’t grab you in the query, first line or first paragraph, will you keep reading to see if it picks up, or toss in the towel then and there?
If I am uninterested in the query, you can bet I won’t request the book; that doesn’t mean if the query is rife with grammatical errors or whatnot–because if the idea appeals to me, I WILL read–but if you’re claiming to be John Green writing the next ___, I probably won’t read. If I do request and I am not hooked by line 1, I’ll kinda read–scan more–to see if it picks up. I will ride it out with you for about 50 pages but if I am having a hard time–forget it!
Finally, here at Coffee Cups, every Thursdayis #ThrowbackThursday – what is one of YOUR favorite books from childhood?
There are so many books to choose from! I loved “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” and any Ramona Quimby book and I loved the Sweet Valley High books (though #32–“The New Jessica” is favored above all in SVH series) and I loved anything Nancy Drew or by S.E. Hinton.
Amy Tipton joined the Signature Literary Agency in 2009. She graduated from Naropa University with a B.A. in Writing and Literature and received her MFA from New College of California in Writing. She comes to the agency after working as a literary assistant and office manager at several literary agencies including JCA Literary Agency, Diana Finch Literary Agency, Gina Maccoby Literary Agency, and Liza Dawson Associates. Amy has also worked as a book scout for Aram Fox, Inc. dealing with foreign rights. She became an agent with Peter Rubie and continued to agent with FinePrint Literary Management. In addition to her agenting experience, Amy also worked as a freelance editor to Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada. Her work is published in the anthology, Controlled Burn, and pieces of her first and second novel can be found in a variety of literary journals.