Monday, September 27, 2010

Interview And Pitch Contest With Agent Joanna Volpe

Good Morning fellow writers! Normally Mondays are the bane of my existence...but today I have a very special guest that has me over the moon with excitement. As promised Joanna Volpe is here not only with a stunning interview, but a contest that is going to have all of you jumping for joy that you got out of bed this morning.

So now the moment you've all been waiting for...Joanna Volpe herself!

Hi Joanna, tell us about yourself and how you got into agenting?

The old-fashioned steps and lots of mentoring. I took editorial and publishing course classes, I interned, I was an assistant (multiple times), then finally became a full time agent January 2008.

What do you feel sets you apart from other agents?

Well, I'm not sure what does--most of the agents I know are equally as hardworking, passionate and dedicated. I guess when it comes down to working with a new client, it's a connection that we make, and that sets me apart individually, at that specific time.

When it comes to queries, what kinds of things are instant rejections?

When it's clear that someone hasn't don't their research, or all they query about is themselves then attach a synopsis of the story. That's not a query!

What are your top 3 books of all time? And why?

I don't know...I hate questions like these! I'm afraid readers will think those 3 books will define me completely. Plus I always list them, then the next morning or a week like I'm like "Crap! I forgot to include ___." I guess if I HAVE to answer: The Giving Tree, Great Expectations and Salem's Lot.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.

I've never read PRIDE & PREJUDICE...(cue the gasps!). I've read other Jane Austen books, but not that one. But I know the story so well thanks to movies, fan fic, rewrites and mashups. A client recently gave me a copy as a gift. I really MUST sit down and just read it. I know!

::hides in shame::

What are you looking for and how can authors submit to you?

You can check out what I'm officially accepting queries for on our website, but to be more specific to right now, I'm currently on the lookout for a unique, hi-fantasy for teens, and I'm still looking for a dark read for teen boys (Catcher in the Rye meets Stand By Me meets Lord of the Flies for today's contemporary reader) in the same vein as Charles Benoit's YOU (fantastic read, btw). On the adult side, I'd love to find a big, spectacular gothic or an upmarket women's fiction.

From an agent’s perspective, what is the biggest mistake a writer (agented or unagented) can make?

Giving up because one story didn't hit.

Is there any other advice that you would give to aspiring authors at any stage of the process?

I always say this, but I truly mean it--don't be afraid to trunk a manuscript and move on. You learn from each and every piece you write and each is important, but that doesn't mean that everything you write is publishable. And that's OK.

Thanks again Joanna for stopping by and answering my endless stream of questions!

Now as promised, it's time for the pitch contest! Joanna is ready to peruse your pitches and pick her favorites! So if you're ready to enter read on...

Here are the rules:
1. You must be a follower of my blog.
2. You must follow her agencies blog, Coffee. Tea. And Literary. (Which is just a bonus reference for you!)
3. You can only enter one pitch - be sure it is something she is looking for.
Your pitch can only be 1-3 sentences long. (not long run on sentences!) Leave your pitches in the comment section of this post. It's that simple!

3rd place winner will get a query critique
2nd place winner gets a 10 page critique
1st place winner gets a 10 page critique and a 5-minute phone conversation with Joanna to discuss their project and/or publishing.

How fantastic is that! Five minutes of Q&A with a real live agent is priceless! I was so excited when Joanna offered this! Okay, I've talked long enough. The pitch contest starts good luck!

Any questions, please let me know! The contest will run until tomorrow night at midnight Central Time.


Caitlin said...

Thanks for the incredible contest Renae and Joanna! Here's my pitcharoony:

In DEALBREAKER, a YA fantasy novel, sixteen-year-old Eliana tracks down the killer of her family with the help of Raff, a protection demon interested in all things human.

:D Good luck to everyone!

Matthew Rush said...

It wouldn't be fair for me to enter because I already won a 10 page crit from Joanna and Sarah in the WOC query contest, and I only have the one project to go with.

But I will say this: Joanna is awesome! Best of luck to all who enter.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great contest. *runs off to work on pitch*

Hannah Kincade said...

Argh! My NaNo book is heading towards the gothic angle. Why can't I write faster?! LOL!

My current project is horror so I'll watch quietly from the back row for someone else to win this fantastic opportunity. :D

Christi Goddard said...
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Jaydee Morgan said...

Enjoyed the interview! Good luck to all who enter this great contest :)

Christi Goddard said...
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MarcyKate said...

Thanks so much for the contest opportunity!

THE GHOST WRITER, YA ghost story

Seventeen-year-old Tessa James can’t even watch Casper the Friendly Ghost without nightmares, so when letters written in French appear on her nightstand she does her damnedest to ignore the implications. But when the accidents begin, there's no more ignoring the ghosts in the theatre next door.

Talei said...

Great interview, Renae and Joanna! Informative Q&A, thanks for sharing your insights. And good luck to all with the contest - what fantastic opportunity.

aspiring_x said...

good luck to everyone!

Theresa Milstein said...
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Theresa Milstein said...

This is a great opportunity. I already follow both blogs.

My pitch for YA fantasy The Mist Chasers:

Sixteen-year-old Eve and her best friend Adam are the sole witnesses to a badass fog that obliterates a Walmart, launching them on a quest to save the world from a wrathful Mother Nature. And if that weren’t enough, Adam wants to be more than friends.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great contest!

My pitch for fantasy YA Alexia's Pen:

A magical pen unleashes a young teen's power to control a fantasy land, a realm only she can save from evil.

Lisa Gail Green said...

That's such a generous contest! You are both clearly very awesome people. :D I have an agent, but I will definitely tweet this one!!!

Bish Denham said...

Wonderful opportunity. Alas, I have nothing to fit the bill.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Lost in a Heartbeat, a YA romantic suspense.

After a stalker assaulted seventeen-year-old Calleigh, she’s forced to keep silent about what happened or else the psycho will kill her BFF. The only person she dares to tell is her new friend, Aaron, who kind of figures things out. But as she falls for him, she discovers they’re linked in a way she could never have imagined—a connection that could be deadly for Calleigh.

Jackee said...

Joanna is always so very cool! Thanks for sharing, ladies! :o)

Here's my contribution:
"Raised, groomed and set apart, Jedda Hitler was the Fuhrer's personal project to prove that even a small girl could become a killing machine."

Melissa said...

Excellent interview!!

I'd enter but... I'm not done my MS yet. Seriously? I'm kicking myself, yet again.

Lauren said...

aspiring_x recommended your blog to me--and man am I glad she did! Great past posts and awesome interview today! Always good to hear (um, read, I guess would be more technical) an agent's interests directly. Thanks so much Renae and Joanna for holding the contest!

Here's my entry, for my YA fantasy novel SIMON'S PARADOX.

Seventeen-year-old Alice has a bit of a problem: she only has half a soul, a side effect of which is sapping the life out of anyone in reach (think Rogue from X-Men but deadlier). Things go from weird to worse when she wakes up in an eerily familiar “wonderland” and discovers that life-sucking powers plus crushing hard on a famed bandit equals one big mess. The mess only gets bigger when a cult of glorified librarians reveals that they have a spot in their laboratory with her name on it—and they’re not taking no for an answer.

Good luck to all the entrants! :)

Jenn said...

Genre: YA Historical Romance

WISTFUL, after her extravagant Ton wedding, 15 year old Julie Haynesworth runs away from her ancient husband to live with a poor commoner family only to fall in love with the eldest son; too bad he thinks she’s a boy.

Thanks for having this contest! :) Good luck to everyone who enters!

E. Arroyo said...

Thanks for the contest!

My ms is a YA Fantasy.

After war breaks out, seventeen year old Anne discovers she has the power to help return the rightful King to the throne. If only she didn’t have the desire to skewer him. Anne has to learn to control her temper, among other things.

Slushpile Slut said...

What a great opportunity! Thanks to both Renae & Joanna :)

Title: Where The Stones Speak
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Banished by those too fearful to harbor one so marked with magick, sixteen-year old Iona, clan ruler on The Isle of Virgins, wields a javelin and sword to protect her refuge and ensure the existence of her kind. But when she discovers she is more than a fledgling prophetess, she is a sibyl of ancient lineage, Iona must embark on a journey to find her sacred circle of stones, where they say no dark magick can breech, and proclaim her oracles to the multitudes— But there are many who seek to silence the ancient world’s last free sibyl.

Christi Goddard said...

I know, I know. Third time's a charm, I hope. I promise to stop changing it now. :-)


Travis and Scarlett trek across America to discover why they returned from their graves in strange, new albino bodies with unexpected powers. But answers are hard to find when they are unwitting pawns in a bored god’s selfish game.