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Agent Interview: Shannon Snow

Q: Describe what you're looking for in 25 characters or less.

A: Adult & YA in most genres

Q: What other agents do you admire most?

A: Paige Wheeler for her commitment to full client support and personal relationships, as well as the depth of her industry knowledge.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

A: Some of my favorites are actually self-published, including Vera Nazarian and Tricia Wentworth. Traditionally published, I love Karen McManus, Dean Koontz, Heather Graham, Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Estep, Jennifer Enderline, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu, Kristen Callihan, Julie Kagawa, Michelle Rowan, Wendy Higgins, Colleen Hoover, Linda Kage, J.R. Ward, Lisa Kleypas, Beth Revis, to name a few.

Q: What sets you apart from other agents who look at the same type of material?

A: I love to take on passion projects and have to love the book. I don't just want to represent the book, though, I want to represent the author so there can be a longstanding career path and partnership. The author will receive my full dedication to the them and their career goals.

Q: What is the best advice you can give someone who is considering submitting work to you?

A: Just be real. If your query isn't perfect, it won't kill your chances. As long as it's put together in a reasonably clear, clean and concise way, and provides me with an idea of your characters' goals, motivations and conflict in your summary, that's great!

Q: Describe the ideal query letter.

A: The query summary shouldn't be too long and it should give me a clear idea of who the characters are, what they want or are facing, why, and what the story's conflict will entail. Leaving me wanting to read more. Having some comparative titles in your query is useful, as well as any writing credits. It is helpful to have some information about what makes you uniquely qualified to write this story, but I have seen some queries that provide a one pager all about why and how the book was written, which is too much. Succinct is key.

Q: Describe the ideal manuscript.

A: It should be as polished as possible. Don't turn in something you haven't thoroughly proofread. Make sure you started the story in the right place. Avoid too much info dumping in the first three chapters. Release backstory a bit at a time, while still allowing the reader to get to know your characters. Characters are key. If I can't sympathize with them and fall in love with them, I can't invest in your story. Keep the stakes rising in the middle so that you avoid that sagging middle.
On the positive side, give me a well-crafted story with dynamic characters.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: They neglect to address the query to me directly, so it may not be seen. They don't include the requested 5 sample pages at the bottom of their query. Generally, people often just don't follow the directions outlined on our website for how to submit.

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: I'd like at least a couple sentences about the author. Perhaps a bit more if they have written credentials, awards, etc. Otherwise, when I request additional material, I typically ask for a full bio.

Q: How much of a manuscript do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: I try to read all the way through every query, but there are times when I don't if I have read a certain amount and know that the story isn't right for me and my tastes or the list I'm building. As far as manuscripts go, I read as much as I need to before I determine if the ms is ready, is interesting enough to keep me invested and hold my attention. I always make notes as I go, whether it's a partial or a full manuscript. If I feel the material is nowhere near ready for editor submission, would require way too much editing to make it ready, the story failed to engage me or keep me engaged, or it just didn't deliver what the query's potential showed me, it won't make it to the next step.

Q: Once you decide to represent someone's work, what is the process?

A: I will give that person a call. I'll ask them several questions to get a feel for how they work, if they're open to revisions, what they want their career path to look like, what type of books they want to write going forward (will I be able build a brand or do they want to write multiple genres/sub-genres), etc I then want to hear and address any questions the author may have for me. I explain the editorial and submission process, generally, as most authors want to hear this information. If I feel good about the conversation, I'll then offer representation.

Q: What is a day in the life of an agent like for you?

A: I spend a certain amount of time reviewing queries. I respond to any follow-up emails I've received. I send rejections and requests for additional materials. I generally do my reading of partial and full requests at night. Also throughout the day, depending upon what's happening with any particular client and where they are in the process, I am also creating editorial letters to send to them for editing their manuscripts. I will make phone calls to go over the edits with them. I will also be writing pitch letters for author submission to editors, and spending quite a bit of time researching the houses/imprints/editors that I feel are best to submit that project to. I have weekly staff meetings, and then depending upon the various times of the year, I may also be attending virtual conferences, speaking or accepting pitch sessions. There is SO much more, but this is the short view.