Saturday, December 5, 2009

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Agent Marietta Zacker!

ATTN: Scroll to the bottom of this post. Marietta will be answering any and all questions until Dec. 16th!! So writers and illustrators, ask away!!!!

Okay, not everything, but I had to get your attention! And isn't she just lovely in blue?

So many great writers have emailed me lately wondering if it's okay to ask me about my agent. Yes, it's okay! I too was once in that same creaky, unstable, agonizing boat and I'm happy to help if I can. Here are some basics about the amazing Marietta Zacker.

What the heck does she want? Marietta is looking for great writing for children and fantastic storytelling, plain and simple. She doesn't want to give a blanket 'no' to anything. She's interested in everything from miraculous picture books to chapter books and novels about the world's unique ethnicities to cutting edge YA. She believes you should write what moves you! In other words, don't write about vampires and werewolves just because you think they're hot! In my opinion, that's kind of crazy anyway! By the time you finish your book and actually get it to agents/editors a hot trend will most likely not be so hot anymore, right? So, write what YOU love, not what you think everybody else will! Case in point, I love rats, rats got agent, rats got published! Passion about what you're writing is so very key!

What on earth is she like? I feel so blessed and lucky to have Marietta as an agent. She is everything I could have hoped for and more! She's wildly intelligent, funny, creative and dedicated to her job and all her clients. She answers all my emails (and there are plenty of them mind you) and calls me as needed, sometimes just to say, "Hey, how are you doing? Wanted to see what you've been up to." Lots of agents don't do that. She has schooled me on the publishing industry and really helped me understand how the "other side" of this crazy business works, like the agent/editor relationship, contracts, offers, etc. And I still have so much to learn from her. Marietta is a great person to have in your corner. She sincerely wants the best for you and wants you to succeed. She cares about her clients for more than just their writing. She is my friend! What more could you ask for in someone who is helping to shape your writing career?

How long does it take to get a response? I was just talking to Marietta this week actually and we were discussing the number of queries in her inbox. Holy cow, there is a lot! Please be patient. She will get to your query. When I sent my submittal package to the Nancy Gallt Agency way back when it took about 4-5 months to get the request for my full--in other words, be very, very patient! What's the old adage? Good things come to those who wait (and wait, and wait)!

If you don't hear back should you assume that's a rejection? I honestly don't know how Marietta addresses that. I'd think she'd let you know once she had the opportunity to read your query, but like I said, her inbox is a traffic jam--think of a number around 1000 give or take.

In summation: Well, I hope I've given you a bit more information on this lovely little lady! The basics to remember: Write what YOU love! Be very patient! And for all that's good and holy in this world keep writing!!!

xoxo -- Hilary

NEWS FLASH! From the woman herself! Marietta Speaks!!
MBZacker said...
This may be unorthodox, but since my wonderfully, talented client sends new ideas without warning all the time (brilliant ones, I might add) and dedicates one of her postings to information about me (also without warning or even a heads-up), I thought I would surprise her with a posting on her blog!And, since I don't feel it's necessarily fair to Hilary to have her speak for me, I think it only makes sense to use this forum and open up the "floor" for questions.So... from now until December 16, I will check Hilary's blog daily to answer questions from those who want to ask. I am not as mysterious as Hilary's characters, so if you have a question, by all means, feel free to ask. I will do my best to be as thorough as possible with my answers.A shout out to all in the blogging world! Marietta


  1. Thanks so much for sharing, Hilary - you sound like one lucky writer with a really great agent! Now I have to hate you! hahahaha ;-)

  2. Ha! You are too funny! I am lucky for sure!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience with Marietta Zacker. I heard her speak at the SCBWI Summer Conference and I loved her passion for books and writers. You are so fortunate to have her as your agent. :)

  4. Thanks guys! Hopefully I'll be going to the NY conference in January. If so, this will be my first time meeting her in-person! I can't wait to give her a great big hug!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  5. You are one lucky lady, Hilary! We've heard amazing things about Marietta!

  6. Hi Hilary! Thank you very much for this insightful post. I met and spoke with Marietta at a conference: she's fantastic!!! I wish I had the chance to work with her as well. If there's such a thing as a dream agent, she's on top of the list. :)

    Happy Holidays,


  7. Connie Frank12/06/2009

    Marietta is on the top of my list! Of course I want an agent, but someone like her would be perfect. Hilary, it's good to hear you say such great things about her and giving her such a nice plug! I'd be inclined to stay rather closed lips, so no one else would query her! LOL! Great post!


  8. I'm so jealous of all of you who have met my agent! I'm 90% certain I'm going to NY to the winter SCBWI conference now, so I'll meet her soon! Can't wait! :)

    xoxo -- Hilary

  9. This may be unorthodox, but since my wonderfully, talented client sends new ideas without warning all the time (brilliant ones, I might add) and dedicates one of her postings to information about me (also without warning or even a heads-up), I thought I would surprise her with a posting on her blog!

    And, since I don't feel it's necessarily fair to Hilary to have her speak for me, I think it only makes sense to use this forum and open up the "floor" for questions.

    So... from now until December 16, I will check Hilary's blog daily to answer questions from those who want to ask. I am not as mysterious as Hilary's characters, so if you have a question, by all means, feel free to ask. I will do my best to be as thorough as possible with my answers.

    A shout out to all in the blogging world!

  10. *waves to Hilary*

    Hi Marietta! Do you like fairy tale-like fantasy, or do you prefer for the fantasy to be more contemporary?

  11. Hi Marietta! A big thanks to both you and Hilary for this amazing opportunity!!

    My question is: Why do so many agents (unlike yourself from Hilary's description) give a blanket "no" to high fantasy?

    Thanks! :)
    Michelle Sussman

  12. Great post, Hilary!

    And Marietta, I think the fact that you ARE unorthodox is part of what people love about you.

    I have a question: A lot of people have been saying that it's pointless to query between Thanksgiving and New Year's. What's your take on that?

    Oh, and one more that Hilary kind of mentioned earlier: If someone doesn't hear back from you, does that mean it's a rejection? Or do you reply to every query?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer questions, Marietta. I so enjoyed meeting you this summer! I hope our paths cross again :D

  13. Hi Hilary *waves* Long time, no rat! :) Great idea for a blog post--thank you, ma'am!

    I have two questions, if I may, for your awesome agent!

    1. I hear mixed opinions on whether it's okay for writers to post "Teasers" on their blogs. How do you feel about that?


    2. What's typically the biggest difference between a novel that almost gets an offer of rep and one that does?

    Thanks so much! Can't wait to see GG's book in print--WOOT!

  14. Marietta, I write YA but there is a twinge of God in there. Think Sophie Kinsella meets "Are you there God it's me Margaret?" DO you rep work with hints of religion?

  15. Hilary, you rock my dear! As does Marietta for offering her time (because agent's don't seem to have a lot of free time to begin with it seems!) Thanks to you both.

    Some really great questions already. I, too, am curious about your fantasy preferences like Michelle. I'll think of a new one to ask while I'm cooking dinner.

  16. Hi, Marietta: Thanks sooo much for this opportunity! (and thanks to dear Hillary for hosting this, too!) I have a two-part question:

    A) What would be on your editorial/ representation "wish list" this holiday season if you had one (e.g. funny picture books, quirky middle grade novels)?

    B) And, say, if I had something that might fall on list this, would you prefer email or snail mail queries or complete submissions? (Side note: I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at SCBWI/LA and heard you say that your agency would be going electronic. I wondered if this included the query/submission process.

    Happy Holidays! And, thanks again!

    Twitter: @PattyJMurphy

  17. Hi everyone -

    My goal is to post once a day and answer all the questions for that day then. I ask for a bit of patience with this endeavor, as all my other work still has to get done as well! Here we go...

    Danyelle - I like both fairy tale-like and contemporary. When it's clever it doesn't matter to me if it's set in a world we know or a world the writer has created.

    Michelle - I do not purport to speak for other agents, so I won't try. Personally, when I know I'm going to be reading high fantasy, I have to get into a different frame of mind. I have to prepare to live, at least while I am reading, by a different set of rules. So it's almost like I need a bit more "prep," if you will. Whenever I am going to read a manuscript, I think about what type of theoretical glasses I need to put on - inevitably, if it's high fantasy, it always takes me longer to put on those particular glasses because they have to be custom-made.

    Sherrie - It was great to meet you as well. The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year... I don't know that it's pointless - everyone just needs to keep in mind that the holidays do, indeed, descend upon everyone (regardless of any one person's own level of observance of any particular holiday). I guess you could look at it this way - some agents might have a bit more time to read. I think it's impossible to throw a blanket answer on this one - submit and be patient and understanding - I think that's the best advice I can give?!? As for your second question, I do my absolute best to reply to every query - that is my goal.

    houndrat - Teasers - that's a tough one, I admit. Again, I do not purport to speak on behalf of the industry, but I'll give you my point of view... I think you hear mixed reviews because it can go either way. At times, teasers give away more than you would like (and I'm not talking about plot, of course!). No doubt, people forget how easily others can access something that is not really ready to be seen. As a rule of thumb, I would say, always think about what you are posting (seems obvious, I know) - you might want to compare it to going to the grocery store in your sweats and without brushing your teeth. What if you know you might possibly running into your next potential employer or even ten of your colleagues? Would you do something different? It's possible that you have nice sweats and that you chewed some gum on your way to the store - but only you can make the call as to whether you are ready to walk in. Some agents and editors do read blogs, of that you can be sure. Clearly, so are your fellow writers and illustrators. Think before you post. As for your second question... hmmm... it depends. For me, so many factors go into the decision that I think it would be impossible to answer that fully and honestly. I have to be passionate about what I am going to represent and if I feel that I won't be, I will only be doing a disservice to the writer or illustrator, so I pass. What assures me that I will be passionate? Huge gut checks!

    T. Anne - Religion, per se, doesn't bother me, as long as it's not gratuitous or present only to satisfy the writer, rather than the characters (and therefore, the reader).

    ChristaCarol - Not a lot of free time here either - don't let this endeavor fool you!

    Patricia - (A) Wish list... I never have one - inevitably, it would leave out the one thing that would have been perfect for me to represent. I really am not trying to be evasive; it's a very tough question for me to answer. (B) Our website should be live in January. Snail mail or email is fine for submissions - complete manuscripts for picture books, first three chapters for chapter book/novels, sample illustrations for illustrators.

    Back tomorrow! Thank you all for your questions,

  18. Wow! Thanks for the great post Hilary. Marietta, thank you for sharing your time and knowledge.

    I have a burning question...Is a personal, hand-written rejection letter from the editorial director of a (significant) publishing company a compliment or good manners?

    Thanks so much in advance.

  19. Hilary, thanks for hosting this impromptu q&a.

    Marietta, I understand that you don't like to creat wish lists. If we promise not to limit you by your answer, could you share some things that grab your attention when you are reading. What kind of characterization pulls you right in? What kind of writing styles do you tend to gravitate toward (humor, literary, 1st person)?


  20. Hi, Marietta and Hilary:
    Thank you for your generous Q and A fest. You two rock. If you don't mind, I have a two-part follow up question to my earlier question:

    A) If you don't mind email submissions, can you tell me where I can find your email address or should I wait until January for your web site to go live?

    B) Do you prefer people to query you first--before sending a submission or just go ahead and send a submission? (Also, if someone sends you a submission via email, do you prefer an attachment or a cut/paste ms in the body of the email?)

    I just want to make sure I follow the proper protocols. Thank you!

    Twitter: PattyJMurphy

  21. Hi Marietta,

    thank so much for your time and for answering our questions.

    Will you attend the SCBWI Florida conference in 2010?

    Wishing you a wonderful day,


  22. Hi to both Hilary and Marietta! Thanks for doing this!

    My question: How do you feel about bad language in YA novels? It seems most people are either very for it or very against it. Teens swear and say the "F" word in real life. How do you view this reality in a YA novel?

    Thanks, Tessa!

  23. Kara Laughlin12/10/2009

    This is a fun conversation. Thank you both for posting. Here's my question for Marietta:

    Lately I've heard a lot of talk of writers getting representation for a fraction of their work: an agent takes on one novel, for example, or just the writer's picture books. At a conference, I heard an agent ask for dystopian fantasy, and thought, but what if the writer's next book is a sports comedy?

    Do you represent all of an author's work once you sign them? If so, what do you do when an author sends you something that you aren't crazy about. And finally, if you feel like you can speak to it from where you sit, are you seeing a shift from agents repesenting authors to agents representing projects?

    Thank you for doing this--a generous gesture, to be sure.

  24. Thanks to Hilary and Marietta for hosting this unconventional session.

    Marietta, there's been a lot of discussion on other sites about creating a new age range for readers who enjoy YA with an adult bent. My question is, how would you define that age range as far as what's allowed before it turns the corner onto Adult Avenue? Also, are you interested in that nebulous age range?

  25. Hi Hilary and Marietta- I thought I'd posted this earlier, but I don't see it.
    What makes YA YA? I have an Urban Fantasy novel that the main character starts out very innocent, but as she gets acclimated to life here, she goes through adolescent situations- first kiss, first heartbreak, etc. But her chronological age is 25 and her FBI agent handler is 28. It's very clean so I'm wondering if the age MAKES it adult, or if it could slide into YA. And is that advisable? I want to target the right agents (when I'm done cleaning it up.) Thanks so much for the Q and A at this busy time of year!

  26. Anonymous12/10/2009

    Marietta, Thanks for answering questions! Could you list a few of your favorite books in different genres (pb, mg, YA, NF) to give us an idea of what you love?

  27. Anonymous12/10/2009

    Just wanted to say hi, Marietta!! (And hi to you, too, Hilary!) So cool of you both to post all this great information! :) -Dawn L.

  28. Ah! Dawn! We love you! I hope you're nice and warm in Cali, because the high today in Chicago was 3 degrees! Lucky writer girl!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  29. Hi Hilary! :-)

    I have two questions for Marietta:

    1) What is your take on contests such as Amazon's Breakthrough Novel or Delacorte's where you're required to take the contract "as is". Is it smart to enter for the exposure and chance to get first book published? I wouldn't enter my series that I'm working on because they might not want to publish all of it, but I do have some other things that I could prepare to submit.

    2) The book I'm about to query is a mainstream book with some religious themes (redemption, sacrifice, etc.) since it's set in Heaven. While it's not religious fiction, its content (good overcomes evil, faith, no cursing, no sex scenes, etc.) is appropriate for marketing to that audience. Is that something I should mention when querying? Since it's not religious fiction, I'm not querying CBA agents, but didn't know if the suitability for that market would be something I should mention now or if I should just discuss it after I sign with someone.

    Thank you for donating your valuable time to help us out! It's very much appreciated.

  30. Evening Everyone - I have to post twice because I reached my character limit. This is part one...

    Sharon- I'm going to have to pass on answering this question as I really don't want to speak for any editor or agent, but I will ask you this... why not take it as a compliment? There are certainly many, many editors who have impeccable manners and who don't hand-write their rejections. So that assumption is not fair to them. If he or she put a smile on your face with their letter, despite its content, I would advise you take it as a compliment and run with it.

    kai- What pulls me in? Ok, I'll bite, but know this ... someone will take it out of context and say something like, "Marietta only reads ____." At least I am now on record as having said that. So, what draws me? Humor that makes me laugh out loud. Fantasy worlds that transport me and make me want to live in that other world. Emotions that I feel in every recess of my body. Thrillers that make me look over my shoulder. Characters who I wish could join me for dinner. Illustrations that tell their own story. Edgy scenarios that make me think twice about my reality. Nonfiction that exposes me to new topics. Writing and illustrations that don't necessarily mimic anyone else's. Writers and illustrators that dare look at the world from different perspectives. Illustrations and writing that acknowledge that this world is comprised of people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. Writing and illustrations that make me gasp. That’s the best I can do, and yet I know I’ve left out so much (and that you are probably not satisfied with my answer).

    Patricia- my e-mail address is mbzacker AT yahoo DOT com. A query is not necessary as long as you vow to send me your absolute best. Attachments are fine. Waiting for our website to go live is not necessary, but do visit it when it does. Yes, it's the obvious website address NancyGalltLiteraryAgency DOT com.

    Nathalie-Yes, I will be in Florida in January. Will you be there? Will anyone else who is reading this?

    Tessa- Realistic characters do all sorts of thing in our every day world, but that doesn't mean you write about it all. So, in my opinion, that's not the greatest measuring stick. The real question is, does your character curse? It's similar to the question about religion. Bad language, per se, does not bother me. But it does if it's gratuitous.

  31. This is part two...

    Kara- We represent people, not projects, so yes, we represent a client's entire body of work. And with that relationship comes a certain level of trust and collaboration. For me, that means being able to talk honestly to a client about their career and the work that will move them forward. Those expectations and the agreement that we'll evaluate each manuscript and illustration together are crucial to the relationship. As for the shift you mention, I honestly can't speak to that, but it doesn't seem that way from where I am sitting.

    Victoria- We can all talk until we are blue in the face about that, but until bookstores and libraries know where they will put books on a shelf, we won't get very far. To be fair, YA sections in bookstores didn't exist just a short time ago. These sections now grow and morph exponentially, so I am not suggesting there is no room for change and growth, but the book needs to be placed somewhere, so that has to be factored into the equation. And from a publisher's perspective, the other question is: to whom will they target their marketing? I don't mind exploring a different age range, but I wonder why it’s necessary when there is so much yet uncovered in the current age range.

    Kelly- Since I haven't read it, this one is more difficult to answer. The question I think you need to ask yourself is: Why is the character 25? If that's essential, then you have to be ready for editors to possibly say, let's make him or her 18 instead!

    Anonymous (#1)- I'll answer this one tomorrow as I am running out of time. Stay tuned.

    (Not so) Anonymous (#2)- Hi Dawn! Wait until everyone reads your masterpiece, IVY'S EVER AFTER! (Disclaimer: Dawn is one of our clients!)

    Goodnight & thank you all again!

  32. Anonymous12/11/2009

    Hi Hilary and Marietta! Thanks for doing this!

    Marietta, what happens after you and a new client agree to work together? Do you usually suggest revisions before approaching editors? How much input and participation do you want from authors as you go through the submission process?


  33. Anonymous12/11/2009

    If an agent wants to know where else the manuscript has been sent, do you include places that only saw a synopsis or query?

  34. Thanks so much for this Q & A session. I am very happy to find that you represent both writers and illustrators and that you like rhyming books! You seem to be a rare bird, Ms. Zacker. I am a writer/illustrator. If I have both to show you, how do you prefer to receive submissions? A website link? PDF attachments? Snail mail with color copies/postcards? I don't want to send attachments you are uncomfortable opening. Also, when representing illustrators, is it the same sort of agreement as with authors? Would we have one blanket agreement that covers everything? Or do you separate the two. Thanks again, and expect to hear from me soon!

  35. Hi again, Marietta! I've thought of a question after reading all of the comments. It's simple: Come to the DFW conference in 2012! (Ok, maybe that was more like a demand, huh? Well, I'll say it's an invitation). I'll e-mail you the details, you'd be such a great addition to the panel.

  36. What great information! Thanks so much Hilary and Marietta!
    I, too, am interested to hear your opinion of contests like Delacourt and Amazon's Breakthrough.
    I will be at the SCBWI FL conference in January, too! Yay! I am super excited! (Hence the overwhelming number of exclamation points. Sorry about that.)
    Hilary - I like rats, too. I had two as pets in high school until I found out I was allergic to them. I had to give them to my brother. :(
    Thanks again, ladies! :)

  37. Hi and thanks SO much for offering to answer questions.

    Many agents seem to be searching for new talent.(Can you guess I don't think of myself as "new?") If an author/illustrator has a substantial list of publishing credits, does this increase your interest in representing him or her? Or do you base your decision primarily--or exclusively-- on the one piece of writing that the author has submitted?

    Thanks again!

  38. Thank you Hillary for hosting this you're awesome =^.^=

    Marietta, it was so nice to hang out with you at the SCBWI Summer conference this year!

    I'm mainly an illustrator and it was mentioned you rep us too. What would be the best way to submit samples to you? Do you prefer mailed samples or emails with links to portfolios?

    Also do you prefer book dummies to be mailed in or emailed?

    Thank you for your time.

    Alicia "Kat" Dillman
    Twitter: @KatGirl_Studio

  39. Thanks, Marietta for answering my question, and Hilary for hosting this. :D

  40. Two posts again tonight... am I that long-winded?...

    Jessica- Contests... Getting your writing and images in print should trump many things, but not all. The answer to your question really depends on the person having to submit. Having said that, remember this… if Christopher Paul Curtis has the guts/drive/gumption/sense to enter a contest for unpublished authors, what’s stopping you? As for your second question... focus your query on getting the agent or editor to fall in love with your story and understand its uniqueness - let agents and editors draw their own conclusions.

    Anonymous- as I don't like to speak for other agents, I'll have to answer this one by saying the following... it would be best to ask the agent that made the request.

    Anonymous Melissa- Intense collaboration and a ton of fun - that's what happens. The truth is, though, that every client is different. It depends, in part, on how polished the manuscript is or how developed the illustrations are. Suggestions and revisions certainly come into play at times. Despite the above and despite my hope that it is always a collaborative process, I want to do my job so that my clients can do theirs – write and illustrate their heart out. Which is why trust is such a crucial element in the partnership. We commit to working together and, at times, that means each of us doing what he or she does best.

    Jo- Any of the methods you mention are fine, but pointing me to a website is ideal and if you have a dummy, then letting me take a look at that is also ideal. Please note that a dummy can take many, many forms and that it should not be a costly endeavor. You can either send me a copy via postal mail or post I to a website. It is understood that neither the color nor the richness will come close to the original. As for the arrangement, yes, I represent the person and therefore, their written and/or illustrated body of work for children's literature.

    ChristaCarol- That was the longest cooking session I've ever witnessed =). Thanks for the invitation - I'll respond to your e-mail.

    Larissa- I guess you already saw my response to Jessica above.

    Sheila- Everyone starts on a clean slate with me, but since I will be representing the person, many things add to or detract from my desire to represent them. Previously published work can fall on either side of the fence.

    Kat- I guess you saw my response to Jo above.

  41. Here's the second part...

    Last but not least…
    Anonymous #1 (why so mysterious?!), I owe you a list…
    I am choosing not to list the books of any of our clients because I assure you that they would top the list and I would run out of space. Suffice it to say that I honestly believe that our clients write and illustrate some of the best books in the industry. That being said…
    Picture books are tough to pick because I have different favorites for different occasions and circumstances, I’ll list a few though since I am attempting to be thorough… This list is in no particular order…
    THE GARDENER by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
    FRIENDS by Helme Heine
    WESLANDIA by Paul Fleischman, Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
    SMOKY NIGHT by Eve Bunting, Illustrated by David Diaz
    VOICES IN THE PARK by Anthony Browne
    REGARDING THE FOUNTAIN by Kate Klise, illustrated by Sarah Klise
    ESPERANZA RISING by Pam Muñoz Ryan
    THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM by Christopher Paul Curtis (will always read his next one)
    ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin
    HONUS & ME (and the entire baseball card adventure series) by Dan Gutman
    THE ISLANDER by Cynthia Rylant
    OUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse
    SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL by Patricia MacLachlan
    THE EAR, THE EYE AND THE ARM by Nancy Farmer
    AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Haddix
    THE GIVER by Lois Lowry
    The poetry of (as well as anything else by) Gary Soto
    I will also always read the next Francesca Lia Block, Karen Cushman and Sarah Dessen
    I literally have to stop myself… even as I type this sentence, I want to go back and add... I’ll leave it there for now.

    For those who celebrate the Festival of Lights - Happy Hanukkah! Until tomorrow...

  42. Re: SCBWI Florida
    sadly I am not sure yet if I'm going, but I find the program very exciting. :)

    I have another question: do you handle subrights, foreign rights, film and audio rights?

    Thank you in advance for your answer.
    Thanks, Hilary, for hosting.

  43. Anonymous12/12/2009

    Thank you Hilary for sharing your agent with us!

    Marietta, I've only heard good things about you and want to thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom with us.

    I am quite excited to send you one of my rhyming PB MS's. I don't know which one to choose!

    My question is this, do you have a quota to fill each year with regards to taking on new clients? Or do you just take them on as you see fit? I just can't imagine you taking on dozens of newbies when the market is so tight.

    Again, thanks for sharing with us. You are amazing!

  44. Hey guys!!! I am just here to personally attest to the fact that Marietta is a total doll!! I have had the privilege of hangin' out with her twice and you are one lucky gal, Hilary!

    Hope y'all have a Merry Christmas!

  45. Thanks so much for answering our questions. And Hilary - for making this happen. You rock! :-) Happy Holidays everyone.

  46. Hilary--Thanks for the great post. I feel really inspired to look for an agent now. (Quite frankly, I was a bit scared of them. I've met quite a few editors and publishers, they didn't intimidate me. Agents just seem so elusive.)

    Marietta--Thanks for all of your great answers. I've been researching you, but can't find a website for you or for the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. Could you share that information with us? Thanks, in advance.

  47. What a wonderful opportunity you have given us, Hilary.

    Marietta, I notice no illustrators have popped in with their questions, so here goes:

    1. I saw where you accept email submissions. How many illustrations do you like to see and do you like them to follow only one style? Would you prefer a PDFolio comprised of several works over individual .jpegs?

    2. How do you feel about illustrators and designers that try to stretch their creative abilities by exploring various styles and mediums?

    3. Do you want someone who has been published several times in several genres, or do you prefer newbies to the field?

    4. Do you allow the illustrator/designer to continue to find their own projects or do you prefer for them to send everybody through the agency, even previous clients and publishers?

    There is so much more to ask, but I know your busy and want to give everyone their time.

    Thanks again for this amazing time with you.

    Aidana WillowRaven

  48. Anonymous12/12/2009

    Thanks for the answers, Marietta! I'm impressed that you're willing to give so much of your time to unpublished authors.

    I read some other interviews with you online, and I'm excited by your interest in manuscripts set in other countries. You may hear from me in six months or so--after I finish revising (and re-revising and re-re-revising) my WIP, which is set in South Africa.

    a.k.a. "Anonymous Melissa" (I can't seem to give myself an identity with this thing.)

  49. A mid-day post... go figure...

    Nathalie -
    Hello again! Yes we handle our all those rights, we have a foreign rights director and work with subagents in the US and throughout the world.

    Cheryl -
    No, I do not have a quota and yes, I am only human. Having said that, the first part of my job is to review portfolios and manuscripts. Without that, I wouldn't have a job. I certainly wouldn't pass on someone I know I could represent well because I have too many new clients. Would you not write something burning to get out of your brain because you just finished writing something else? I know there are holes in that analogy, but the feeling is similar.

    Katie -
    Thanks for dropping in - I hope you are well. Best to Sarah Frances.

    Jo -
    You are welcome.

    Sharon -
    The teacher in me is going to have to come out - you didn't read all my responses (I know, there's a lot to read through now). You'll have to comb through my previous answers (hint: our website goes live in January).

    Aidana -
    A few illustrators have chimed in (does the teacher in me have to come out again?), but admittedly, these are new questions...
    1. A PDFolio works (rather than individual JPEG images and you should share what you feel will help me get a good sense of who you are as an artist. Unfortunately, you are the only one who can answer that question.
    2. Explore your heart out. Once my client, expect to get honest feedback.
    3. Like with writers, I want to represent people with an amazing eye (and ear) for storytelling and who are willing to collaborate.
    4. I expect to represent the entire body of work my clients produce for children's literature, but do not expect them to sever or stop having conversations with their clients, editors or publishers.

    Anonymous Melissa -
    I will only read it if you sign your cover letter 'Anonymous Melissa.' Just a joke - I'm getting punchy!

    Best to everyone,

  50. Thank you HIllary for using your blog to help other writer this way.

    And, thank you Marietta, for giving of your valuable time.

    My question: Do you look for a minimum or maximum word count for each genre?

    Thank you in advance for your answer.


  51. Thanks Hillary for hosting this and Marietta for answering all of our questions. When we query you, what do you want us to e-mail you? A query letter? How many chapters should we sent? Do you want a synopsis? Can we attach it or do you want it pasted into the e-mail? Thanks so much.

  52. Thank you for the wonderful question and answer sessions. I met Marietta in September at the Nashville SCBWI conference. Everything I needed to know popped up on your blog. I really appreciate the information.


  53. Hi Marietta!
    Thanks so much for giving us all your time and attention!
    I'm wondering are you on twitter?


  54. Anonymous12/13/2009

    Wondering...If you read a manuscript and are interested in repping the author, if the author has submitted to a few small publishers, does that change your level of interest?

  55. Happy Sunday - everyone -

    Karen -
    I don't knock anyone who does, but I am 'one of those people' who look at a word count and say 'so what?!?' It means nothing to me. Not because it won't matter in the end (I've seen plenty of manuscripts that have been both chopped to pieces as well as expanded tremendously with the help of editors), but personally, it means nothing. From a business, marketing and trends perspective, yes, of course the word count will play a role, but 'we'll cross that bridge when we get there' is the way I see it.

    Natalie -
    Some reading this blog will know what I'm about to say... you'll have to read my previous answers. Not an ogre, just think it's only fair =)

    Joyce -
    Wow - we're being that thorough! We should all write a book together.

    Stac -
    AgentZacker on Twitter - horrible tweeter or twitterer or twittster or ??? Someone help me out here.

    Anonymous -
    I have to say this again, I am only speaking for myself and not for all the agents out there. If this is where you are with an agent, the best thing you can do is ask that agent. Personally, I want there to be trust and all out honesty and communication. The question is: why wouldn't you want to tell me?

    May the beginning of the week be fantastic for all of you!

  56. Marietta, I did find the answers in the earlier questions. I must have just missed it the first time. Thanks for referring me there and for taking the time to answer all of our questions.

  57. Marietta--Thanks for the hint. I knew the site wouldn't be up until January. I was just trying to do some (extra credit) homework researching you and your agency. I'm one of those people who worries that if it sounds to be too good to be true, it must be...So I research everything before I make a decision. I like everything I've read about you (from a variety of blogs and interviews). But want to make sure I'm not wasting either of our time by sending you a ms.

    Thanks for the time you devoted to Hilary's post. :) It was nice to (virtually) meet you.

  58. Good morning. Suppose someone has successfully self-published (not pod)three children's picture books that have sold many, many copies and received numerous awards. And suppose this person has been invited to be a presenter at a number of major book festivals, and suppose this person would like to find a major publisher. What should this supposed person do next? Thank you so much for any advice you can offer. Bobbie

  59. Hi Marietta,
    Thanks for taking questions! Here's mine...
    my MG mystery/adventure novel is a finalist in a publisher's contest (winner gets a paperback contract.) Should I be sending it to agents prior to the contest announcement (Dec. 25) in case I need the help of an agent to sort out a contract? OR is my novel more likely to get the attention of an agent if it is the lucky winner?

  60. This is very generous of you Marietta, especially around this busy time of year. And thank you Hilary. I look forward to submitting an appropriate manuscript to you in the future. Happy Holidays.

  61. Thank you for your response, Marietta. It's very helpful!

  62. Anonymous12/14/2009

    My first question is for Marietta AND Hilary (didn't want to leave you out, Hilary).

    Question #1: How much revising/editing did Hilary's submitted full have to been "tailored" before actual submits to publishers? I ask because my manuscript has received some great feedback from the 3 agents that have read the full, but no offers of rep followed unfortunately. I worry that these agents are not willing to "fix" anything minor, or they don't think about the idea that maybe a bit of guidance on the shaping of my first book might nurture a wealth of talent, and don't offer rep as a result.

    Question #2 (for Marietta...sorry, Hilary): When you read a partial (you have mine now, by the way), do you read it with the mindset that you're only getting say 32 pages and turn to the query again to help determine whether or not you want the rest?

    Thanks...and I hope you're enjoying your current partial submits.

  63. Hello again bloggers,

    Natalie -
    No worries. You are welcome.

    Sharon -
    Much appreciated. You are welcome as well.

    Bobbie -
    That's a loaded question. Assuming you are talking about yourself... You need to figure out what would work best for your career. Honestly, it seems like you have answered your own question. You said you would like to find a major publisher. Start writing your cover letters and go for it. It seems like you have already enjoyed the success many seek, so congratulations on that.

    Suzanne -
    Most contests explicitly state that while once you’ve entered your manuscript into the contest you can't submit it to an agent or any other house. So I would check on that first. Also, the contract for this contest might be non-negotiable. If that is not the case, then the choice is yours. Do what is best for you now and don't ask too many what ifs? It can drive your crazy, make it so that you don't enjoy the journey and allow opportunities to pass you by.

    Sharon -
    Thank you for your kind words. It is my pleasure!

    Karen -
    You are most certainly welcome.

    Anonymous –
    Why so anonymous? Anyway, as far as question #1, I am going to have to plea client-agent confidentiality. I don’t think it’s fair to use Hilary or any of my clients as examples. The truth is that every client, every situation and every manuscript is different. I can tell you that with some manuscripts I spend days, others weeks and in a couple of cases, we are going on months (even over a year for one) with revisions, before I submit the manuscript anywhere. That doesn’t mean that the writing for one is better than the writing for another, there are simply a number of factors that play a role in the decision to submit. Of course, as I have said several times in previous answers, I can’t and won’t try to speak for the agents who have read your full manuscript, so it’s hard to say. I will say this though, there are times when I read a manuscript, like it and feel I can help shape it and other times when I read it, like it and don’t feel I can. The reasons for that are many and varied and almost impossible to identify. Question #2, I don’t have a formula. I’ll have to give you another “depends” on this one. I don’t feel I’m being too helpful, but that’s the honest truth.

    Have a great evening,

  64. Thanks, Marietta for your advice about the contest and thanks, Hilary for making the opportunity possible! It is great to be able to ask a real live agent something that otherwise might keep me awake at night.

  65. Cynthia Foster12/15/2009

    Hello Marietta. I'm interested to know what a typical day is like for you. How do you balance the many demands of being a literary agent? What is the best part, for you, about being an agent?

    Thank you, and I hope your enjoying your full subs...especially one of them. :)

    Cynthia Foster

  66. Sure, I'll throw a question Marietta's way. You have your glove on, Marietta? As a ten-year veteran teacher of junior high ELA, I have immersed myself in MG/YA literature, coming up for air only long enough to stay alive. I read it not only because my students read it, but because I love it as well. Chomping down 3-4 books per month does the body good, forget the apple. I know you have a background in teaching as well, as does Rick Riordan (a stellar Gallt client and my inspiration). This is why I submitted to you, and why I was glad to see your request to read a portion of my debut MG adventure/fantasy. For me, I am surrounded by teens daily and discuss literature every single day with them. I have tested my manuscript out on them and it helped a lot (regardless of future publication or not).

    OK, on to my question. What do you do to seize and bottle that "pulse" on MG/YA teen readers so that you know what they are truly interested in, and what they want to read? I ask because sometimes I wonder if agents/editors, outside of stats and projections, really take the time to get to "know" the reader. I look forward to your answer, and I hope to share more of my manuscript with you in the future. We'll see if it's in the stars.



  67. Leslie McCrary12/15/2009

    Happy Tuesday Marietta and Hilary,

    I, much like the inquiring minds before me, am ever so grateful for this Q & A opportunity.
    Please excuse my tardiness.

    Marietta, my burning question I had to ask before you sign off tomorrow is this....

    Do you still own a bookstore (SOMe Book Nook in New Jersey, I believe) and, if so, how has that experience helped or hindered you as an agent? Did/Does it house children's/YA material exclusively? Sorry, technically TWO burning questions. I write PB's (one of which I've subed to you) but aside from authoring a wildly popular book, I have a reocurring dream of owning a quaint little bookstore of my very own.

    Thanks again for the chance to share.

    Most Sincerely,
    Leslie McCrary

  68. Hola –

    Suzanne -
    You are welcome.

    Cynthia -
    I try to follow a fairly simple principle, "You can do anything, but not everything, at least not at one time." It doesn't always work so neatly, but I try. As for my favorite part, no doubt, the people. My interactions and collaborations with my clients, writers, illustrators, editors, fellow agents. You can’t count on too much in life, but there is one thing that is certain, you can never automate this business. That is a treasure to hold onto dearly. And then there's the reading - book after book, manuscript after manuscript, illustration after illustration (yes, I read those too!). Another treasure!

    Michael -
    I went ahead and put both gloves on. Since it's hard to project sarcasm in written form, let me be clear, my first sentiment should not be taken seriously - I take no offense by your question. I'll start by saying this though - it's important to prod and question, but it's not fair to make assumptions until you've walked a mile in someone’s shoes. Once again I will say that I don't speak for all agents or editors, but I do know this, many, many of them have experiences that although different from mine, make them just as qualified not only to do their job well, but to speak for the children and young adults who will be reading the work they represent or acquire. Their road may look different, but again, you have to walk at least a mile (I would dare say many more) before jumping to conclusions. Having said that, I do understand your point. And to be fair to you, you did ask what I do to make sure I keep my finger on the pulse... so let me answer that question. Although I don't currently have a teaching schedule, I am and always will be a teacher. My continued commitment and involvement in the world of education is a crucial part of my life. It always will be. I also own a children's bookstore. I read. I observe. I listen. Very deliberately. To children and young adults. Again, I want to be clear, I do not believe that my road is the right road or the only road. It's the road I chose to travel and the one that works for me. I am thankful for every side road I can take and happily take those turns whenever possible – always with the goal of getting more insight on the children and young adults who make all our jobs possible. Gloves are off.

    Leslie –
    I guess my previous answer gave it away, but yes, I still own SOMe Book Nook. It resides inside a toy store and it is a children’s only bookstore. It was a very serendipitous move and it has helped me in unimaginable and indescribable ways – keeping my finger on the pulse as I mentioned above, keeping me current in all aspects of publishing, and giving me another avenue to talk to readers about what they love and why they love it and what they wish there would be more of. Be forewarned, if you think writing is tough, try a retail bookstore – whew! Somewhat in jest, but not far from the truth.

    Hasta mañana,

  69. No way Jose! A children's bookstore INSIDE a toy store? Yes indeed Ms. Zacker, I thought I loved you before but now I know it's true (brown nosing not intentional)! Here's to 2010!


  70. Anonymous12/15/2009

    Thanks again Marietta! You truly are a genuine gem! You wear many hats and you wear them all so well! Good luck in all you do.

  71. Hilary, thank you again for sharing your writer's journey with us, and for sharing excerpts of your work. Because of you, I have come to look fondly at rats. I hope they like me back too! Happy holidays and have a great time in New York. ;-)

    Marietta, thank you so very much for your time. Happy holidays. PS: the multicultural blog is now up and running.

  72. Bloggers -

    I think it's time for us to give Hilary her blog back. I want to thank her for being such a good sport and for not killing me with my surprise posting. And thank you all for your insightful questions. Please know that, for me, this was not an opportunity to get more clients, but rather give you us all the opportunity to 'converse' and allow you to see that, as I said in the beginning, I am not as mysterious as Hilary's characters. If I were you, I would put it on your to-do list to read NIGHTSHADE CITY when it is published. It is much better than even the excerpts you may have read. I say that fully recognizing that I am biased... but I hope I have proven that I have good taste =).

    I wish you all the very best - regardless of how, when or where you writing or illustrations see the light of day.

    I remain humbly committed to our readers, to the creators of our stories and to the publishing world,

  73. It is just lovely how you handled the questions gracefully and thoroughly. I adore your dedication to the industry and to the author. Thank you!


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