Book Broker – An interview with Albert Longden

Interview with literary agent Albert T Longden about advice and tips for querying writers, authors seeking representation for their manuscript

Agent: Albert T. Longden

Website: publishersmarketplace.com/members/atlong/

Preferred genres:

We are currently looking for non-fiction, historical fiction, based-on-real-events fiction, and good thriller writing with splashes of humor.

1) What stands out to you in a good submission?

The first thing I look for is the organization of the pitch. If it's sloppy or unclear as to what's being offered to the agent, then it goes in the "black hole". Next it's the sample chapters or, if a full (unsolicited) manuscript, the first two or three chapters to get a feel for the writing, potential story arc, use of imagery (making the story telling as visually vivid as possible), characterization, AND the desire to read more.

2) What is the most common error or flaw you see in query letters?

Try to make it YOU and not boilerplate. No agent likes to see the same verbiage from some "pitching your novel" piece that every writer read. Make it interesting, engaging, and unique, if possible.

3) What's a typical early warning sign that a manuscript isn't structurally sound?

When you start seeing obvious grammatical errors, and the characters are ill-drawn.

4) Are you currently open to submissions?

Yes, open for submissions. 

5) What advice can you give to writers who are submitting their work?

Be patient. Don't forget, there are so many good stories out there, therefore the job of editors, agents, publishers, (and hiring managers) is to eliminate you, not embrace you... unless you can stand out, have a platform, and can contribute to the sales/marketing efforts of the agent or publisher.

6) What do you love most about being an agent, and what do you find the most challenging?

I love the thrill of finding a gem. It might not make me a millionaire but if it grabs me, that's a wonder to behold. Most challenging is having to reject so many good people and good authors.

7) Can you tell us about an exciting author you're working with at the moment?

My long-time client Richard Sand has just finished his first non-fiction book in quite a while. It is about 64 young men from one high school in Philadelphia that lost their lives in the Vietnam War – more than any other school in the country. Edison 64 has been the most unique, harrowing, and emotional work he has ever done. He has cried with families, surviving vets, and educators that still remember hearing of these tragic loses. He has chronicled the PTSD (what used to be called battle fatigue), the survivor's guilt, the attempted suicides, and the drug addiction of many who came back. It's a story needed to be told about a war nobody wanted to hear about. About men who served their country only to be ignored, spat upon, condemned as baby killers, and thrown out with the trash. May it never happen again.

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