Book Broker—an interview with Rita Rosenkranz
Agent: Rita Rosenkranz—Rita Rosenkranz Literary Agency
Preferred genres: All areas of adult non-fiction.
Bio: A well-established agent who began her career as an editor at major publishing houses, Rita Rosenkranz represents almost exclusively adult non-fiction titles. Her wide-ranging list includes health, history, parenting, music, how-to, popular science, business, biography, sports, popular reference, cooking, writing, humor, spirituality, illustrated books, and general interest titles. She represents first-time as well as seasoned authors, and looks for projects that present familiar subjects freshly or lesser-known subjects presented commercially. Rita works with major publishing houses as well as regional publishers that handle niche markets.
1) What stands out in a good submission?
A clear query that identifies the compelling essence of the work, the reason it deserves publication (how it’s different and better than its competition), and why the author is the best person to write it.
2) What's a typical warning sign that a manuscript isn't ready for representation?
Lack of clarity (see above); it seems under-baked, not thought through. The author isn’t clear on what category they’re pitching. There are many more common mistakes made.
3) What's at the top of your manuscript wish list right now?
I look for books that speak to our current needs and preoccupations, but that also have a timelessness, i.e., are built to attract readers for years to come. Projects that achieve that attract my attention.
4) What's the funniest or cleverest tactic an author has used to try to get your attention?
A powerful query is all I need, but occasionally an author has sent a related product, etc., to supplement the submission, hoping to stand out.
5) 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?
Ideally, the project is fairly mature and needs minor massaging to bring it to submission stage. But as a former editor, I’m inclined to work with an author, hoping to submit the best possible proposal to prospective editors.
6) If you could change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be and why?
Editors are deluged with submissions, which means we don’t always hear back from them, regardless of the amount of follow-up we do. It’s unsettling in an industry built on relationships, but is not likely to change.
7) Can you tell us about an exciting author you're working with at the moment?
My author, Julie Bogart, who wrote THE BRAVE LEARNER and RAISING CRITICAL THINKERS, is working on the manuscript now for THE SECRET OF BREAKTHROUGHS IN WRITING, which shows parents and teachers how to help students go from being speakers to writers naturally, incrementally, and developmentally. I think this will be a standard-bearer writing book.