Book Broker—an interview with Adria Goetz
Agent: Adria Goetz with P.S. Literary Agency
Preferred genres: Picture books, middle grade fiction, graphic novels of all ages, adult fiction (women's fiction, rom coms, thrillers).
Bio: Adria Goetz is a senior literary agent at PSLA representing picture books, middle grade, adult fiction, and graphic novels. She specializes in picture books by author/illustrators. She graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in English with a creative writing emphasis, as well as the Columbia Publishing Course. She worked at Martin Literary & Media Management before joining the PSLA team. In 2019, she was selected as a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree.
Adria has eclectic taste but particularly enjoys projects that are tinged with magic, have so much heart you can practically hear their heartbeat, and have a compelling, commercial hook. She was recently proud to represent THE OCEAN CALLS by Tina Cho, THE WHATIFS by Emily Kilgore, THE UGLY DOODLES by Valeria Wicker, NO ORDINARY THING by G.Z. Schmidt, HALAL HOT DOGS by Susannah Aziz, and BATTER ROYALE by Leisl Adams, and dozens of others. Adria lives in an old Victorian farmhouse in Washington state with her husband and their two darling cats, Maple and Mulberry. You can find her detailed manuscript wishlist at AdriaGoetz.com and you can find her on Twitter at @adriamgoetz and on Instagram at @adriagoetz.
1) What stands out in a good submission?
I am always hooked by the initial concept of a project. I love queries that use very specific language. I love writing that is very fluid and easy to read. I also tend to gravitate toward submissions that are brimming with heart. If I get the sense that a project has wide appeal and will tap into a popular market, but still offers something fresh and unique, that is a winning combination in my book.
2) What's a typical warning sign that a manuscript isn't ready for representation?
A lack of polish in the writing. It's easy to spot a manuscript that hasn't been reviewed by critique partners. Always get a second, third, fourth set of eyeballs on both your writing and your query letter/submission materials.
3) What's at the top of your manuscript wish list right now?
Picture books and graphic novels by author/illustrators, and adult fiction—particularly rom coms, thrillers, and commercial fiction with heart.
4) When you sign a new client, to what extent do you work through additional revisions together before their manuscript is ready for submission to publishers?
I consider myself an editorial agent, so every novel project will go through two rounds of edits—a big picture look at the project, and a closer line edit. Picture books are a ping pong match where we volley the manuscript back and forth until it's ready—sometimes there can be quite a few passes on picture books.
5) If you could change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be and why?
Working conditions need to be better at publishers. If I could wave a magic wand I would make conditions better—mainly by paying publishing employees a fairer wage and hiring more people to shoulder the load.
6) What's the best (non-client) book you've read recently, and how did it hook you?
I recently read THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES by Sangu Mandanna and now I'm making everyone in my life read it. I think the title itself hooked me, and the cozy feeling and the author's cheeky, warm narration reeled me in.
7) Can you tell us about an exciting author you're working with at the moment?
I'm really excited to be working with author/illustrator Christy Mandin. She is constantly cooking up the most delightful characters and story ideas. I think of her as having this inner cauldron of ideas that is constantly bubbling and I feel lucky that I get to represent her. We're shopping a very gothic, macabre picture book right now that I'm very excited about, and I think her picture book THE STORYTELLERS RULE, about a girl with writer's block, is going to really appeal to creators of all ages.