Are you curious about what a literary agent does behind the scenes to sell a book? Or how to write a query letter that will grab a literary agent’s attention? We dive into this and so much more in Suzie Townsend’s episode!
Suzie is a literary agent over at New Leaf Literary and Media who represents all brands of children’s and adult fiction. She loves women’s fiction and all subgenres of romance, fantasy, and crime fiction. She also represents children’s fiction and particularly loves YA and Middle-Grade novels. Some of Suzie’s best- known projects include #1 NYT Bestseller Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (a previous guest on 88 Cups of Tea), and many more.
In our conversation, Suzie takes us on a journey of how her love for storytelling and fantasy books lead her to the path of a literary agent. We get into the nail-biting story of when she sold her first manuscript, how she pitches books to editors, and how to form a great agent to author relationship. She also shares eye-opening query letter tips that will help you catch the attention of literary agents.
Books and resources:
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fallen directed by Gregory Hoblit
Frostblood by Elly Blake
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Joanna Volpe, president of New Leaf Literary & Media listen to her 88 Cups of Tea podcast episode here!
Check out these highlights:
- Ways you can navigate your career path with an arts degree (15:20)
- How Suzie discovered her love for editing and the revision process in an online writing community (15:35)
- Suzie’s “Ah-ha!” moment of finding her place in the literary agency world (28:00)
- The importance of asking for help and guidance throughout your career (33:35)
- A sneak peek into how Suzie naturally pitches stories to editors (36:17)
- Why it’s crucial to be collaborative and immersed in your community as a literary agent (50:14)
- Key elements to include in your query letter to grab the attention of literary agents (58:35)
- Suzie explains different contract conditions between publishers and authors (1:03:52)
- Important things to keep in mind when coming up with your book’s title (1:11:35)
- Suzie answers a few of our incredible listener questions:
- What are middle-grade editors getting particularly excited about these days? (40:12)
- What types of questions do literary agents like to hear from an author during a call? (41:47)
- When you go about signing a marginalized client, how do you go about marketing them in a way that prospective editors will respect their identity? (45:51)
- How closely does New Leaf work in passing a query or pages between each other to find the right fit for a project? (48:23)
“For a long time I felt like Middle Earth was real; that it was in some other dimension or something. Middle Earth had to exist.”
“An agent is there to advise but in the end, everything is always the author’s decision.”
“One of the things that you want in an agent is someone who is invested in the career trajectory of an author rather than just the one project.”
Say ‘Hi!’ to Suzie
Learn more about Suzie Townsend
Prior to joining New Leaf, Suzie graduated film school, earned her Masters of Education, taught high school English, and coached a swim team. In her spare time, she read everything she could, which prompted her move to publishing. She got her start as an intern at FinePrint Literary Management where she was hired as an assistant before making the move to literary agent. She’s been part of the team at New Leaf Literary & Media since its inception in 2012.
Suzie represents all brands of children’s and adult fiction. She loves women’s fiction, all subgenres of romance, fantasy, and crime fiction. On the children’s side, she particularly loves YA and MG. Suzie loves strong characters and voice-driven stories that break out of the typical tropes of their genres, and she’s always looking for unique new voices in stories.
Suzie also serves as the agency’s Team Leader.