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Monday, July 25, 2011

Sarah Jane Freyman Interview

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sarah Jane Freyman of the Sarah Jane Freyman Literary Agency about publishing and her goals as an agent.  She was very insightful, inspiring and an absolute pleasure to talk with.  She's accepting queries...so read on and take heart! 

We all know ebooks are changing the publishing industry.  Sarah affirms they're definitely having an impact on publishing but they aren't to be fear or scorned.  She reminds us that there was a time when books were illustrated manuscripts made by their creator.  People had to deal with a move to print.  Going back even further, all stories were told verbally without paper.  Things change.  The one thing that doesn't change is "the need for humans to hear story."  Whatever medium those stories come to us is just fine.  We must, "save what's worth saving, embrace technology and make it beautiful".  The only thing she feels needs to be changed about ebooks is the amount of money authors make from their work.  "That will have to change."  (I agree!)
Her final thought on ebooks and publishing right now, "We're a little lost in the rapids right now but we'll find the flow."
Talking about manuscripts and what she's interested in representing, she says, "Everything interests me."  She would love to see an illustrated novel for adults or YA or a fabulous mystery, but really, she loves a good story.  (Sarah Jane Freyman Agency does not currently represent children's authors other than Young Adult.)  They more recently added Young Adult to their list after she read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.  She admits it was "one hell of a story."  The writing wasn't great but the story was and Sarah could see the market was shifting and she wanted to be part of the great work being done in the Young Adult market.
Sarah has been an agent since the 1970s.  To keep at a job for that long, a person must really love what they do.  Sarah's love for her job shone through as we talked.  For her, the best part about being an agent is "discovering new worlds and dipping into them."  She loves discovering a wonderful story and savoring that moment of wondering what it could be and how she can help to realize it's potential.  As a result, Sarah Jane Freyman is an editorial agency.  If the underlying story and the author's writing is good enough, she'll take on a client and offer editorial help to get it up to speed for the market.
Sarah's ideal client is simply a nice person.  If you're nasty, aggressive, or too touchy, don't query here.  Be willing to consider editorial advice and be polite.
Serious writers know the market is seemingly impossible to break into but Sarah offers hope.  She believes writers need to learn to write a good query letter and to seek outside help for their work if they need it.  (critique groups, outside editors, etc.)  Don't send in your work before it's ready!  Authors get a high from that completed manuscript and often want to send it out immediately.  Sit on your hands until the madness passes!  Although, Sarah says publishing is a paradox.  You have to strike a balance between sitting on your hands and leaping before you look.  Keep learning and never give up.  Learn from mistakes and try again. 

Thank you so much, Sarah for taking the time to talk with me!


  1. Cool. All super-encouraging stuff. Especially the parts about ebooks.

    Thanks for sharing this interview, Miss Sarah.

  2. Cool. Hope it helps. Will you be submitting to Ms. Freyman any time soon?

  3. Great information. Thanks for sharing all you learned.

  4. I'm agented right now, but that may change soon. Dude has "passed" on my last three books.

  5. @Natalie, glad you liked the interview.
    @Ray Hmmm, might be time for a new agent. I took a gander at your story "The Propagation". Parts of it remind me of The Aldous Lexicon, which I LOVE. They're only available as ebooks now (http://www.nakedebook.com/ML2/AldousLexiconTrilogy.html) or maybe from your local library but if you're into the alternative realities thing, they're definitely worth checking out. Good luck with finding a published home for your books. Publishing is a fickle mistress.

  6. I see I need to sever that link. Those stories are filled with poor writing and amatuer mistakes, and I keep forgetting that there's a link to them on my blog.

  7. Hi Sarah, Nice interview. I can't find an email address for you, so I figure you'd get a comment faster than anything else. You were the 30th person to enter my M+L FOREVER Contest on my Cayman Summer blog, so I have a cute bag of M&Ms with Michael and Leesie's faces on them. All I need is an address to send them to. Can you email me at angelamorrison at mac dot com? THANKS!

  8. Hi, Sarah! I’m a fellow Campaigner! Thanks so much for commenting on my blog and for becoming a Follower! It’s great to meet you, especially as a fellow children's book writer!

    And many thanks for this interview. I am interested in the publishing industry and enjoy learning more about it, so I enjoyed reading this.

    Many congrats, too, on PAJAMA GIRL! When is it released?

    Thanks again for your support at my blog! It's great to meet you!