Book Broker – An interview with Katie Greenstreet

Interview with literary agent Katie Greenstreet


Agent: Katie Greenstreet


Preferred genres:  Upmarket Commercial, Accessible Literary, Domestic and Psychological Suspense, Historical Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Family Sagas

1) What stands out in a good submission?

A voice that immediately hooks me! It can be so hard to begin novels without resorting to clichés, so really pulling me in from that first page makes me think I might be onto something wonderful and will definitely keep me reading.

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

People tend to forget that this is a business relationship first and foremost and I very much appreciate professionalism in a query letter—this also shows me that you take yourself and your writing very seriously. I also love to know why someone is specifically querying me. The two biggest mistakes, though—addressing the letter to "Dear Sir" and sending me a genre that I do not represent!

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

I definitely see a lot of first drafts in my inbox. Authors, take note—pretty much no one nails their novel in the first go! If you feel too close to a book and need some space, stick it in a drawer and revisit in a few weeks. I can usually spot something that hasn’t gone through a few rounds of edits within the first page, and that’s going to be an auto-reject from me. I need to know that you’ve put your heart and soul into your book. 

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

Take the manuscript as far as you yourself can possibly get it. You almost never get a second chance with an agent, so you want to have done everything you possibly can before you submit. If you’re working with an editorial agent, there will still be more work to be done but with a fresh eye. It’s better to be able to dive into those edits as soon as possible rather than having your agent waste time and read on issues you could have fixed yourself.

5) Are there any recent changes or trends in the publishing industry that you think authors should know about?

Right now there is a huge drive to find authentic voices, authors writing about their own experiences. I hate the idea of censorship in novels—it is fiction after all—but if you are writing about experiences and a world that is not familiar to you, it is essential that you do your research, treat the topic with sensitivity, and nail the details. 

6) You've just decided to represent an author and the contract is signed. What steps do you take to prep the manuscript for submission to publishers?

I am a very hands-on, editorial agent. Once I’ve signed someone, I’ll start pitching their idea to every editor I meet who publishes in their genre over coffee/breakfast/lunch. But alongside that, I’ll be working with the author very closely on a series of edits so that we can get the book as close to perfect as we are able before sending it to all of those editors I’ve been pitching! 

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

It’s so hard to choose; I’ve had a great reading year so far! Two that come to mind, though: SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid pulled me in with the outstanding hook of the book and the moral dilemma at its heart (something I love in fiction). Her writing style is just so natural, too, that it felt like no work at all to get sucked into the world and imagine the characters as old friends. The second I would mention is THE MOST FUN WE’VE EVER HAD by Claire Lombardo. I’m an absolute sucker for a family saga and this delivered in every way possible. From the opening scene when the reader meets all of the characters from a birds eye view at a wedding, I knew I was in for a treat, and Lombardo’s ability to flesh out such a cast is remarkable. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

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

My client Ericka Waller has written both one of the most uplifting and most heart-breaking novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s called DOG DAYS and is publishing next year with Doubleday. It’s about three very different people at pivotal moments in their lives, and as they navigate these huge obstacles, they do so with their canine companions by their side. They all cross paths and come into each other’s’ lives thanks to their daily dog walks. Ericka’s capacity for understanding people is profound and there are lines that just jump out and smack you in the face. I’m so exciting both for this book and for everything to come from her as I think she just exceptional.

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