Book Broker – an interview with Emily S. Keyes

Book Broker—an interview with literary agent Emily S. Keyes

Agent: Emily S. Keyes

Website: fuseliterary.com/emily-s-keyes

Preferred genres: Young adult, middle grade, some picture books, fantasy, science fiction, women's fiction, pop culture, humor, and anything not too serious.

Emily S. Keyes, literary agent with Fuse Literary AgencyBio: Emily S. Keyes joined Fuse Literary in 2013. Previously she worked at the L. Perkins Agency as a contracts manager and associate agent. Before entering the world of agenting, she worked in the contracts department of Simon & Schuster, Inc where she handled copyright, reversion of rights, and assisted with author contracts. In 2008, she graduated from New York University’s Center for Publishing. She uses her knowledge of contracts, copyright, and the publishing business to benefit her clients and the Fuse team.


1) What stands out in a good submission?

The writing. Even in the query letter you can often tell if an author can create vivid pictures in your mind. For the actual pages, if I want to know what happens next, that always stands out.

2) What's a typical warning sign that a manuscript isn't ready for representation?

I think the majority of manuscripts I see are not ready for representation. I like to say I take on things that are publishable and my edits and such help make it sell for more. But I am not a talented enough editor (my background is in contracts) to fix a lot of manuscripts I see, even if they have a good idea. A typical warning sign might be that it starts with a lot of exposition, which is stuff the author needs to figure out in the early stages of drafting, but isn't what a reader needs. A reader needs to be pulled in, not lectured to. That's a huge red flag that it hasn't been seen by enough people yet. 

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

A good critique group is worth its weight in gold. You can often get better advice from people who read widely in your genre and share your interest in craft than you can paying for a professional edit.

4) What are the three most overused opening scenes that you encounter in submissions?

Waking up is a big one, either from a dream or just starting the day. I also see a lot of manuscripts that start with onomatopoeia (like "thump" of... something or "brrrrrring" of the phone ringing). I often think the writer would be better served to describe the sound because I have no context for what was going on before the sound, or if the sound is welcomed ("Yay the phone is ringing!" or "Oh no, not this guy again.") I can't really think of a third—probably starting out in a battle scene where I don't know who anyone is.

5) Approximately how many query letters do you receive per year? Of those, how many will you respond to with a request for a full manuscript? And of those, how many are likely to receive an offer of representation?

It varies greatly month by month. But I recently started using QueryManager and it says I have received 2,000 since September 2019, so that's eleven months. QueryManager also says I requested 228 of those 2,000 (it does not differentiate between full and partial requests, but I mostly do partial requests first). I offered on 7.

6) What is your strategy for a client whose manuscript isn't selling?

I usually have a conversation with the client. Either revisions need to happen (and often if we are getting a lot of the same feedback the path can be clear), but more likely than not, it's time to move onto something new. I always want my clients to be working on something.

7) What's the best (non-client) book you've read recently, and how did it hook you?

I loved This is My America by Kim Johnson. I bought it because I met her at a con and she was lovely, but what hooked me was the story of wrongful conviction. I am very interested in social justice issues like that.

Hide and Seeker By:  Daka Hermon

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

I am very excited for Daka Hermon's debut middle grade novel HIDE AND SEEKER to come out from Scholastic. Not only is it a great book, and spooky in time for Halloween, but I squealed when I found out it was going to be in the Scholastic Book Fair. Those were real staples of my childhood.

 

 

About the Darling Axe

We are professional editors as well as award-winning writers. We understand the intense effort and emotional investment you have poured into your work. It's our job to help you realize your vision and take your manuscript to the next level.



Work with a professional fiction editor from the Darling Axe: manuscript development and book editing services



Darling Axe Academy – Query Quest: a self-paced querying course

Darling Axe Academy – Best-laid plans: a self-paced outlining course

Book a sample edit with a professional fiction editor from the Darling Axe: manuscript development and book editing services

Related Posts

How to outline a novel in five steps
How to outline a novel in five steps
A page-turning read is one that’s built on: “This happens, and so this happens, which causes this to happen, resulting i
Read More
Book Broker – an interview with Bonnie Nadell
Book Broker – an interview with Bonnie Nadell
Simplicity and clarity are two of the hardest things to achieve for any writer but the best books always have it.
Read More
Book Broker – an interview with Caroline Hardman
Book Broker – an interview with Caroline Hardman
Rejection is part of the process – your work isn’t going to be right for everyone. But if you’re not getting anywhere, t
Read More

Leave a comment

Name .
.
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published