Once again, GLVWG’s Michelle Meeh spent some time interviewing Victoria Selvaggio, Associate Agent for the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Vicki has a strong background in business ownership and over six years of actively working as a volunteer and Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Northern Ohio. Drawn to the publishing scene first as an author writing all genres, with her most recent publication in the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, Vicki’s passion for honing the craft carried over into reading manuscripts for the agency. Currently, she is excited to read compelling manuscripts that will resonate with her long after she’s done.
Michelle: Who is your most memorable writer?
Veronica: Stephen King is my favorite writer. I find his path to publication fascinating, and I find his published works to be more than enjoyment for reading. For me, they’re instruments/tools—I’ve learned so much on mastering voice, playing with a manuscript’s structure, and even pushing those standard writing rules a tad.
His publications encouraged me to write about the sweet and innocent, while weaving in the crazy and unimaginable. They helped me push my own limits as a writer–learning to not hold back, writing about my deepest fears, while sharing those things that show my vulnerability. And mostly, they encouraged me to be me–to write what I need to write!
Michelle: Do you have a particular quote that resonates long after the book is back on the shelf?
Veronica: While I don’t have a particular quote after the book is back on the shelf, I do have a favorite motivational quote:
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
Michelle: What attracts you most about the middle grade and YA age category?
Veronica: I tend to love most genres geared toward all age categories. I do find, though, that middle grade and Young Adult manuscripts resonate with me the most. Simply because that’s where I find my own author’s voice. Middle grade and Young Adult manuscripts also take me back to my own childhood memories.
I love manuscripts that have a unique plot or an amazing hook, while the author has weaved in all the elements of plot. Wonderful characters need to exist in rich settings, while facing high stakes. Suspense and tension keep the pages turning, and of course, character growth leads to a satisfying ending.
Michelle: You like thrillers and all elements of weird, creepy stuff. What is the strangest character or Plotline you have encountered and where do you draw the line?
Veronica: Hmmm…this is a hard question! I haven’t received a manuscript where a character was too strange for me, or where I couldn’t visualize the story. I’m pretty open on all elements of weird.
As with all manuscripts, balance, though, is important.
Michelle: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?
Veronica: We are all destined for the “right” path. Becoming an agent was mine! After several years as Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Northern Ohio, and becoming a published author myself, I found myself limited on what I could do to help writers and illustrators reach their goals. I was able to provide tools (education, motivation, inspiration), but building careers was out of reach, so I strived to make it reachable.
For me, I love, love, LOVE, working one-on-one with my clients!
While all jobs have their disadvantages, I can’t seem to find many as an agent. I love going to work every day. It’s as simple as that!
Regarding my response time…I will note this as my least favorite thing about my job. Due to the overwhelming e-mails and queries I receive, and as my protocol (as an author knowing what it’s like to be on the waiting side), I respond personally to each one. Unfortunately, this takes time.
Michelle: What are the qualities of your ideal client?
Veronica: My dream client:
- Intelligent and knowledgeable about the publishing process
- A good understanding of business and the market
- Sets goals and reaches them
- Great communicator and open to sharing thoughts/feelings, especially if we disagree
- And finally, has researched me—feels there’s something that will “click” when we talk for the very first time, regardless if it’s those first couple of e-mails, or my telephone call offering representation. Connection is key and not just with the story. I want to build lasting relationships with my clients, and I want my clients to feel the same way!
Vicki will be taking pitches at the GLVWG “Write Stuff” Conference, Saturday, April 9. (Advance registration required)
“I am currently looking for lyrical picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, new adult, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, narrative nonfiction, adult fiction but find I’m especially drawn to Middle Grade and Young Adult. I especially love thrillers and all elements of weird, creepy stuff. If it’s out of the box, and it will make me think and think, long after I’m done reading, send it to me! On the flip side, I yearn for books that make me laugh, cry and wonder about the world.”
You can also follow Vicki’s twitter: @vselvaggio1