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!