Friday, June 10, 2016

Agent Interview with Penelope Burns of Gelfman Schneider (Plus a Query Critique Giveaway!)



Bio: 

Penelope Burns is the newest member of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners. She came to the agency as an intern after graduating from Colgate University and the Denver Publishing Institute in 2012. Currently, as an agency assistant, Penelope is looking to a build a list of her own. She is interested in Literary and Commercial fiction and non-fiction, as well as a variety of Young Adult and Middle Grade. 

You guys, we are thrilled to have agent, Penelope Burns of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners on the blog today! Thanks so much for playing along, Penelope!

Get to know Penelope’s agenting style and enter our Rafflecopter drawing to win a query critique from her below.

QUERYING MINDS WANT TO KNOW: ARE YOU CURRENTLY OPEN TO SUBMISSIONS? AND HOW LONG IS YOUR GENERAL RESPONSE TIME?

I am currently open to submissions and actively looking to build my list! My response time is generally around three months, which is not as fast as I’d like it to be, but I do read and respond to every query.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’D LIKE QUERYING WRITERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND YOUR AGENTING STYLE, BEFORE QUERYING?

One thing is that I consider myself an editorial agent (which I’ll explain a little more below). The other is that I’m looking to nurture a writer’s career; you’ll never have to “audition” for me with every new book you write.

WE ALL WANT TO MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION. DO YOU HAVE ANY QUERYING PET PEEVES OR SOMETHING THAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A RED FLAG?

My one pet peeve is queries that start with just “Dear Agent” or something else along those lines (or even the wrong name!). I know authors go on multiple submissions with queries, but there’s something so impersonal about that kind of error. A few typos won’t make me automatically reject a query, but if the query and the sample pages are riddled with errors, that would definitely give me pause.

ONCE YOU SIGN A CLIENT, HOW HANDS-ON ARE YOU DURING THE REVISION PROCESS?

I’m very hands-on, because it’s important that a book is in the best shape it can be before it goes on submission. You don’t want to give an editor a reason to turn a book down, especially if it’s something easily fixable.

IN YOUR OPINION, DO YOU FEEL ONLINE CONTESTS AND TRADITIONAL QUERYING ARE BOTH EQUAL IN GRABBING AN AGENT’S ATTENTION?

Definitely equal! I’ve participated in a few contests and found some really great manuscripts that way, which I may not have seen otherwise! Contests also can have an extensive selection process, so I know the author has really worked on their query and opening pages. With traditional querying, it’s nice to know that an author has specifically sought me out as a good fit for their book.

STALK AND YOU SHALL FIND: ARE THERE ANY UPCOMING CONFERENCES, ONLINE WRITER CHATS, OR CONTESTS THAT YOU’LL BE TAKING PART IN?

I’m very excited to be taking part in Query Kombat hosted by Michelle Hauck, Laura Heffernan, and Michael Anthony!

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC ADVICE FOR WRITERS WHO ARE CURRENTLY IN SEARCH OF THEIR DREAM AGENT?

Do your research! There are so many resources out there for writers these days, for all stages from writing the manuscript to actually querying. Also, keep an open mind. You may have a dream agent in mind, but there could be another agent out there who also has the same excellent qualities.

OKAY, TIME FOR SOME MGM FAMILY FUED! *cue Steve Harvey entrance music* *DOUBLE CHECKS CUE CARDS*

TOP THREE ANSWERS ON THE BOARD.

WE ASKED ONE AMAZING AGENT: WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES YOU LOOK FOR IN A NEW CLIENT?: 

1. Passion!

2. An open mind.

3. Not afraid to ask questions.  

FILL IN THE BLANK: WHEN I BECOME AN AGENT, I HAD NO IDEA:

How diverse the clients and genres would be! I consider myself a primarily YA/MG reader, but I’ve gotten some REALLY good Adult manuscripts I wouldn’t have seen had I limited the genres I was open to.

SUDDEN DEATH: 

FOR THIS QUESTION, WE ASKED THE AMAZING AGENT FOR THE TOP ANSWER ONLY: WHAT STORY ARE YOU STILL WISHING WOULD POP UP IN YOUR INBOX?

I would love to see a story that features reality TV somehow—it’s my not-so-guilty pleasure!


Thanks again for playing, Penelope! We loved having you!

Enter our drawing for a chance to win a query critique from Penelope.

Querying writers, you are going to want this! She gives amazing feedback!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

2 comments:

  1. Great interview! I learned in grad school to take a course with a professor I can work well with, not a topic I like. Is something similar true for finding/selecting an agent? While a MSWL is helpful, I'm realizing personalities should mesh too. Thoughts?

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  2. Thank you! I think paths and preferences will always vary from writer to writer. For me, meshing as much as possible on all levels makes for an ideal match in any relationship. (-:

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