About What Agents Want
An Interview with Literary Agent Linda Hyatt
By Natalie R. Collins
Literary Agent Linda Hyatt picked up a copy of *Heidi* at age eight, and a life-long love for fiction was born. She channeled this love into her own writing, and became active in the Romance Writers of America and local writers groups and critique groups.
Her passion for fiction reading and writing was furthered when she was asked to join a literary agency because the agent said: "You have an eye for excellent fiction."
"Quite honestly, I've just always known what I like to read. Whether I had a gift for salable fiction or not, I never stopped to consider," Hyatt said. "Nonetheless, I was flattered by her compliment, and proved to myself during the first six months with a dozen novels sold that yes, perhaps I did have an 'eye.'"
Soon she found herself working independently, taking contractual law classes, reading everything available about the publishing industry, and attending conferences, as well as studying the writing careers of best-selling authors and helping new writers launch successful careers.
In 1990 she took this knowledge and started Hyatt Literary Agency. Today, some of her clients include Kristin Kyle, Nancy Cohen, Linda O'Brien, Robin Schone, Susan Vaughan, Leandra Logan, Cynthia Thomason, Kristine Hughes, Stephanie Rankin, Althea Mortenson, and Glenna Fernandez. Eighty percent of her client list is made up of romance authors.
Knowing what she liked to read paid off for Hyatt.
When asked what she is looking for in a query letter from a new writer, Hyatt said this: "I look for an interesting story idea, professionally presented, and any writing credits the author may have."
She also cautioned against making common rookie errors, such as forgetting to put your return address on the letter, or more often, stating you are "the next Robin Schone or Nora Roberts."
Another mistake that new writers make is targeting an agency that does not represent what you are writing. "It's a waste of everyone's time to send out a book project that an agent does not represent," she said. "There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, I handle women's commercial fiction--not sci-fi, biographies, or photo collections."
Knowing what an agent is seeking can save a writer a lot of heartache, and rejection. It is easy enough to research the types of work an agent handles also. A simple query on a search engine can often lead you to the agent's Web site, if they have one, or to some of the clients they handle.
When asked what types of projects would catch her eye, Hyatt said: "I have a full client list, but I am always interested in great stories, either contemporary or historical. Novels with new twists and lovable characters. Happy endings are the best, but bittersweet endings also work for me. I prefer unique nonfiction projects that will be appealing to a broad audience."
She also believes that it is not wise to follow the publishing trends. "Trends are like a wheel, they keep circling around, therefore there are no specific 'hot' trends in my opinion. My recommendation is to write from the heart, put your soul into the book, and eventually what you are writing will sell."
Hyatt said that she is not interested in reselling e-work into print, since most publishing houses prefer to have a portion of the e-rights. However, she is always interested in looking at anything new the author might have to offer. "As for self-published [authors], that depends on the work and its acclaim."
Above all, when she is considering a new author, she looks for the quality of their work. New authors should always have their work carefully edited and critiqued, and only send out the very best manuscript that they are capable of.
Hyatt Literary Agency's objective is to find and sell excellent fiction, while promoting successful and satisifying writing careers for dedicated authors.
Hyatt speaks to writers groups across the United States, at both local and national conferences, and she also teaches creative career strategies, and encourages writers who desire to make writing their lifetime goal.
She has also published articles on the how-tos of writing and selling.
"The most rewarding aspect of being an agent is helping the client develop a solid lifetime career, sharing the excitement of great reviews, seeing a book in hard cover for the first time and, of course, seeing titles make the New York Times Bestsellers list," Hyatt said.
Visit Linda's agency Web site at http://hometown.aol.com/hyattliterary/myhomepage/business.html
© Copyright 2002 Natalie Collins
Collins is a regular columnist for Fiction Factor,
contributing helpful articles about agents and editors.
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