Book Broker – An interview with Sharon Belcastro

An interview with literary agent Sharon Belcastro on query advice for querying writers

Agent: Sharon Belcastro

Website: Belcastroagency.com

1) What stands out in a good submission? 

An interesting character. A deep and compelling goal. What’s personally at stake for the protagonist if they fail to achieve the goal. And a couple of insurmountable obstacles they are going to face in their quest.

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

Failing to simply and concisely tell me who and what the story is about in 300 words or less.

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

Excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors in the first few pages. It’s usually the sign of a novice writer that hasn’t taken the time to learn their craft and is overcompensating through purple prose.

4) Are you currently open to submissions, and is there anything in particular you are looking for right now? 

We are currently open to submissions. I am looking for all genres in young adult, anything strongly character driven that doesn’t pull any punches. Nova Ren Suma, Rin Chupeco, Mindy McGinnis, April Genevieve Tucholke, Courtney Summers, Laini Taylor, and Frances Hardinge are a few my favorite YA authors. Although I do enjoy my YA romcom as well.

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

Don’t rush the submission process. Take the time to get your story and query letter right before you start submitting. Read extensively in your market and your genre.

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

I love discovering and partnering with new talent. But the waiting! It can take years from discovering a manuscript until it is published.

7) If you disliked a submitted manuscript but thought it could be a bestseller, would you take it on? (A question from one of our Twitter followers.)  

No. A manuscript has to capture my heart and soul for me to represent.

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

All of our authors are exciting to me so I can’t just pick one! But look for upcoming releases by J.A. Kazimer, Arlene Kay, and Christine E. Blum.

 

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How to write a query letter

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