Ask an Agent Series: Tracey Adams

Tracey Adams is the Co-Founder of Adams Literary. For this installment of our Ask an Agent Series, we asked Tracey what she typically looks for when she considers manuscripts for representation (as well as what tips she could provide for writers interested in publishing their work).  Here's what she said:

WHAT SPECIFIC CRITERIA DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING A MANUSCRIPT FOR REPRESENTATION?

We specialize in the children's book industry, which includes everything from picture books through YA. We look for amazing texts which are unputdownable and unforgettable. 

WHAT SHOULD A WRITER INCLUDE IN A QUERY TO AN AGENT?

It should be short and it should contain relevant information: why you are submitting to this agent in particular, a pitch of your work, and any other publishing credits. 

AS AN AGENT, I SUSPECT YOU RECEIVE MANUSCRIPTS THAT AREN'T QUITE FINISHED. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS CONCERNING REVISION/EDITING? 

Well, of course the manuscript is not "finished" until the author and editor say it's final. A manuscript must be complete when submitting to us – we don't want to ask for the rest of your manuscript, only to find that it's still months away from having a second half. Writers should submit when they feel they have done their best work. If they are unsure, they might consider joining a trusted critique group.

WHAT IRRITATES YOU AS AN AGENT WHEN YOU'RE EVALUATING A MANUSCRIPT FOR PUBLICATION?

Queries addressed to "Dear Sir" or to a different agent are at the top of this list. It's very irritating when a writer doesn't know the genres of children's books, and thinks they are sending a YA when they're actually sending a middle-grade novel. They should do their homework. For picture books, the number one newbie mistake is to illustrate, or have someone you know, illustrate your text. The choice of artist is completely up to the publisher, so picture book texts should never contain art (unless the writer is also a skilled picture book artist, which is rare.) 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU PROVIDE TO WRITERS WHO WANT TO SECURE AN AGENT?

Anyone writing for children/teens should join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) for a wealth of information, education, and community. The best way to find an agent who might be the right match for you is to look in the Acknowledgements section of the books you love most in your genre – often the agent is mentioned, and then you'll know who has similar taste to yours. (It would be smart to mention those books in the query letter!)
 
IS SELF-PUBLISHING A GOOD OPTION?
Self-publishing is an option for those who can afford it financially, as well as those who can afford the time to market the book themselves. It is not necessarily a gateway to traditional publishing – that happens very rarely. If someone simply wants their book available for family and friends, without going through the traditional route, it's a wonderful option to have available. 
 
 
Tracey Adams

About Tracey Adams

Tracey Adams co-founded Adams Literary in 2004, after nearly a decade with literary agencies Writers House and McIntosh & Otis, where she was the head of the children's department. Prior to becoming an agent, she worked in the marketing and editorial departments of Greenwillow Books and Margaret K. McElderry Books. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Tracey speaks frequently about her profession and the children's book industry at conferences across the country. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Association of Author Representatives (AAR), and a founding member of the Women's National Book Association (WNBA) chapter in Charlotte, NC. In her spare time, Tracey enjoys Taekwondo, kickboxing, and test-marketing children's books with her two daughters.