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Kim Tomsic

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten with Literary Agent Terrie Wolf

TOP TEN: Info/Advice/& Fun Facts with Terrie Wolf of AKA LITERARY LLC
The Colorado/Wyoming region of the SCBWI is proud to announce Terrie Wolf as a faculty member for the September 2014 LETTERS AND LINES CONFERENCE.
Who is Terrie Wolf? Before becoming a literary agent, Terrie was an editor as well as a member of the international media. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, Creative Writing at NYU and Journalism at CU-Denver. Terrie founded Wolf Literary Services, and in 2009 she co-founded AKA Literary.

 The Letters and Lines Conference is said to be one of the most intimate ways a writer can connect with leaders in the publishing industry. To launch participants’ conference-connect experience, Terrie has generously agreed to answer the following ten questions:

1.       SUCCESS STORY (the crème brulee):  Hi, Terrie! Thank you in advance for serving on the faculty at the upcoming RMC SCBWI conference, and for taking the time to answer my questions. Before we get into the meat and potatoes (craft), I’d like to start with dessert (contract).  Please tell us about one of your conference success stories.

Thank you very much for including me. After several years in the conference and workshop “trenches” I’m pleased to tell you I signed a conference participant. I was thrilled by a proposal provided by Kathy Borrus at Writer’s Digest West Conference last September. If you like to shop or travel you might recognize her name as Kathy is the author of Five Hundred Buildings of Paris, One Thousand Buildings of Paris, and The Fearless Shopper. Her writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Washington Flyer, and Art Business News among others. So, here we are, ready to work on this adult piece when she mentioned an idea she had for a children’s series of books.  To say I was floored would be an understatement. Ask me at the conference and I’ll fill you in! You’ll love her.

2.      PUBLISHING PATH: I read that before you were an agent, you were an editor with Hobson’s Press and also an award-winning member of the media with NBC and CBS. How and why did you decide to become an agent?

My father always said that if I was stranded on a desert island, I’d be just fine as long as I had a fishing pole, books to read and a phone so I could tell everyone I knew about the books I read and the fish I caught. A series of events that included big trucks, freak southern gales and patio umbrellas all taught me about  resilience and allowed me (forced me) to return to Colorado full time. The outlook may have seemed a little desolate in the beginning but gave me the opportunity to slowly find my way back to wellness. A few years ago I met an author whose work was witty and fresh. It reignited my passion. The author asked me to act as her agent because she said I talked about her work more than she did. That was the beginning. She was right and I still proudly represent her. She tweets @CJDunham1. Get to know her! 

3.      YOUR NEXT CLIENT: In addition to other genres, I understand you represent YA, Middle Grade, and Picture Book writers…excellent!  We all know agents are looking for great and compelling writing, and the word on the street is you pick story over genre. Please give us more insight into your preferences.

There’s so much that goes into this process. I like to know what my editors are interested in finding but I also ask readers what they would like to see. It’s really important to write the story as it is meant to be written rather than for a trend or market. Good stories just have a way of finding good homes.

4.      Sometimes the Internet gets buzzing with a lot of misinformation of where an agent is or isn’t. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT  2012-2014

I took much of 2012 - 2013 and 2014 away from work due to illness, the Black Forest Fire and the 2013 floods. I ran into the big three: my mother’s death, my father’s illness, and I have been stalked daily since April 2013. It’s just part of the drill, part of what helps me decide what I want to do. Usually what I want to do is fall back and read.

Wow! That’s a lot to shoulder. I’m sorry for your difficulties, and I admire your bravery and determination. I’m glad to know your father is doing well again, and your experiences are a testament to how books are friends to people during difficult times—a point that moves me to the joyful side of life—READING: I’m sure you would agree that in order to become great writers, we must first read, read, and read! Writers should also know when shopping for an agent, they should read the agent’s client’s books to help further reveal if the agent is the right fit. Terrie, are you an editorial agent and if yes, tell us more?

I am an editorial agent, and proud of it. You won’t see many of our works for some time due to the publishing schedule. Learn what you can from every single book you pick up.
·         I encourage you to visit our website as a way to familiarize yourself with our clients and their writing The new and improved website should be up no later than Monday, September 22, 2014. It’s been such a wonderful journey!
·         Upcoming Fact: our Kenley Conrad’s HOLLY HEARTS HOLLYWOOD will be released Tuesday, September 23, 2014 via Swoon an imprint of Month9 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)?

I read everything from Louis L ‘Amour to Zane Grey, Sports Afield and Boys’ Life. I still adore The Velveteen Rabbit, Little House on the Prairie, and Black Beauty.
Current favorites:
-         Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, 2013)
-         The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HC, 2012)
-         Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Egmont, 2012)
-         Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker (Chronicle Books, 2011)
-          And the list goes on and on!

Helen Lester’s TACKY THE PENGUIN and A PORCUPINE NAMED FLUFFY still make me giggle. I still love Jerdine Nolan’s HARVEY POTTER’S BALLOON FARM, Robert Munsch’s I’LL LOVE YOU FOREVER, and ROTTERS by Daniel Kraus are all favorites at this very moment. Ask me in ten minutes as my list will change.  

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

Three words: unforgettable, empowering and unexpected. If I can find works that make me laugh out loud, that’s even better.

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

It has yet to bore me.

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

I am easily distracted.

9.      Like I said, a special benefit of the Letters and Lines Conference is attendees walk away knowing the faculty on a more personal level. One fun fact about Terrie is that she knows sign language and has served as an interpreter for the Deaf and Blind School in Colorado Springs (cool!!). What’s another fun fact you’re willing to reveal?

I have a piano in my office.

10.  THE MEAT AND POTATOES: What’s the final word of advice that you would like writers to walk away with?

Be the writer your characters know you are. Be kind, be loving and allow everyone around you to see your need for a place like this one.

Thank you Terrie Wolf! I look forward to meeting you in September.

The pleasure is mine, really.

Writers who would like to query Terrie Wolf should email the query and the first ten pages of the manuscript (or full manuscript for picture books) in the body of the email (no attachements, please!) to  aka@akaliterary.com. The AKA Literary website is being updated (due to be ready next week!), and Terrie will soon provide that address link so you can learn more. In the mean time, follow her on Twitter at @AKA_Terrie. Bonus piece of advice: it’s Terrie, not Terry. It’s Ms., not Mr. J


Connie Martin said...

Terrie is an agent who is "unforgettable, empowering, and unexpected"! Loveliest lady in the market, and grateful she is my agent.

Kim Tomsic said...

Thanks for letting us know, Connie. Just from this interview experience I know you are right. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the SCBWI looks forward to having her on our faculty this weekend!

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