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Kim Tomsic

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top Ten with Literary Agent Tricia Lawrence

TOP TEN: Info/Advice/& Fun Facts with Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA)

The Rocky Mountain Region of the SCBWI looks forward to the wisdom of Tricia Lawrence. She will serve on this year's conference faculty for the September 20 & 21, 2014 LETTERS AND LINES CONFERENCE. If you haven't registered, we are accepting walk-in registration on September 20 at 7:45am or September 21 at 8:15 am at the Marriott Denver West, 1717 Denver West Boulevard, Golden CO 80401. 

Who is Tricia Lawrence? Tricia is the "Pacific Northwest branch" of Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA)—born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 19 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from children’s books to college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.
As associate agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong world-building, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won't let go.

You can find Tricia's writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics at http://authorblogger.net/ and at http://trishlawrence.com/


1.       SUCCESS STORY:  Hi, Tricia! Thank you for serving on the RMC SCBWI faculty and for agreeing to this interview. I love starting with dessert, so please tell us a yummy conference success story.

My first PB client is the past conference coordinator for Western WA, Kerri Kokias. I met her as a brand-new agent (not yet repping picture books) looking for a critique group and we hit it off. Of course, she will say I made her work. I made her write a ton. And I did. But when I was ready to sign PB clients, she was my first one. We are friends, crit buddies, and then author/agent. And it was the best decision I made! She is AWESOME! 

2.      PUBLISHING PATH: I’ll bet your experience as a social media strategist serves you and your clients well now that you’re an agent. What smart social media tips can you provide?

For my full-throttle social media for authors, you'll have to come to my workshop. In the meantime, look back over your social media content. Is it 80/20 (content/marketing)? For marketing, I mean "come buy my book" or "come to my book signing" and by content, I mean "there was this fascinating article I just read about bullying, which is one of themes of my next book" or "We need diverse books shared this article that really spoke to me about the important of diversity" and don't pitch anything. Just share, share, share. And if it has a theme to it, all the better. See you at my workshop!

3.      YOUR NEXT CLIENT: I understand you represent Picture Books, Chapter Books,  Middle Grade, and YA. At every conference—regardless of genre—agents say they are looking for great and compelling writing. Please give us more insight into your preferences.

I love all sorts of styles in kidlit. I do love a mystery, I love dark novels, dark young readers. For novels, I'm looking for the character I've never met  before, but I feel as if I know already. Someone who just walks off the page into my life. Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE series was that for me. Karou is someone I've never met before, but I now feel like she's someone important in my life. Challenge: how would you do a mystery PB?

4.      READING: I believe in order to be a great writer, a person should be prolific reader. I also believe when writers research and shop for an agent, they should read the agent’s client’s books in order to understand if the agent is a fit. Tricia, are you an editorial agent? Also, please tell us about some of your clients’ books.

I am an editorial agent. My books don't start coming out until Fall 2015, but in the meantime, on EMLA's website www.emliterary.com you can see what our agency is publishing month to month. Any of those would be a great idea to read. Robin LaFevers' HIS FAIR ASSASSIN series, GRAVE MERCY,  DARK TRIUMPH, and the third in the trilogy, MORTAL HEART. Anything by Deborah Underwood or Pat Zietlow Miller or Liz Garton Scanlon, picture  book wise. Anything by Trent Reedy, Conrad Wesselhoeft, Laurie Thompson, Laura Resau, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Ruth McNally Barshaw. I could go on  and on and on. I'm a huge fan of EMLA books!

5.      FAVORITE BOOKS: What were some of your favorite books as a child, and what are your current kid lit favorites (other than the ones you represent J)?

Favorite series: Narnia. Second favorite series: Little House on the Prairie. Current kidlit favorites are FLASHLIGHT by Lizi Boyd (a work of art), I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen, LET'S GET LOST by Adi Alsaid, GAIJIN by Matt Faulkner (my client, but I didn't rep this one).

6.      What’s on your wish list of future projects to represent?

I'm looking for innovative picture books, using other genres to tell a story in that format (murder mystery, horror, etc.). I'm looking for retro illustrations that are just alive. I'm looking for a super-duper chapter book series or two a la Penderwicks or CLEMENTINE. I am hungry for more girl middle grade. I'm also looking for amazing YA fantasy, fractured retellings (so, instead of fractured fairy tales, take a classic work of literature and crack it open). I'm wild about anything Bronte, Dickens, Hugo, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky. I was raised on these books, so if you're doing something innovative and new with them, bring it to me!

7.      What can you tell us about the state of the publishing industry?

In total flux. Indy bookstores are growing. The industry seems to be able to handle the massive changes being thrown at it. It's a great time to be an author or illustrator. If you're hesitating, why? Go for it! Write!

8.     How does the answer above influence you as an agent?

Always figuring out how to represent my clients better, how to inspire more authors/artists, how to be more creative myself! I feel as if I'm in a continual college semester, with always changing classes and I'm always carrying too many credits and wanting to learn more.

9.      A benefit for attendees of the Letters and Lines Conference is getting to walk away knowing the faculty on a more personal level. One fun fact about Tricia is that she Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. Please give us one more fun fact!
If I am at a beach, I pick up pockets full of rocks and shells. If I am in a parking lot, I pick up rocks. If you show me a rock, I will want it. I have now shared my rock obsession with my neighbor's 3-year-old and she comes up to me now and asks for rocks. :) Funny how I always have one to give her.

10.  What’s your final word (for today) of advice that you would like writers to walk away with?

Writing is not easy. You are walking in footsteps of so many great writers and also great souls! Do not be discouraged! Press on! Don't give up!  Write, write, write.

Thank you, Tricia!
For submission guidelines, please visit the EMLA website and follow the guidelines. 

Submission Policy: Good news-- if-- you attended the Letters and Lines Conference! 
EMLA is closed to unsolicited queries or submissions BUT Tricia is open to queries from attendees of conferences where she speaks. If you met Tricia at the conference or have a referral, please paste your query into the contact form on our contact page. Please note that EMLA is no longer responding to queries or submissions from those who do not have a referral or have met them at a conference. Those sent in hard copy form via post or other means will receive no response from EMLA, and those sent via email will receive an automated form rejection.

***This is your big chance to query, so take the time--polish your prose--use advice your received at the conference--seek out a critiquing group--repolish your work--read the submission guidelines carefully--polish one more time--AND THEN send your query. Good luck!  

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