Countdown to the Conference Interview Three

Hello everyone! So I’m not back up and running again yet, but soon I swear I will be full speed ahead. I think my family is trying to see how many times they can get me sick. Right now the score is them 3 me 0. I’m getting my tail kicked over here. But tail kicking aside I’m proud to introduce you all to our  Sizzler’s third interview for the Countdown To Conference. Agent Joyce Holland is with us today. She will be attending the Silken Sands conference in March so make sure if you’re attending to look her up and thank her for dropping by.  Before we get started here is a little about Mrs. Holland.

Joyce Holland of the D4EO Literary Agency

     Joyce Holland recently became an associate agent with Bob Diforio and D4EO Literary Agency (www.d4eo.com). She is attending Silken Sands scouting for new authors. Her interests include romance, science fiction, mystery, horror, YA, and nonfiction of all kinds. She was a newspaper columnist for several years and is a published author of three books and over two dozen short stories. Joyce knows what it feels like to be on the other side of the pitching table.

     Because she is new to the agenting world, she’s open to just about anything, and she has a different approach to finding new authors. The best way to interest her, outside of a killer log line, is to bring a one page synopsis and the first three pages of your manuscript to your session. Joyce was a reader for FUTURES MAGAZINE for two years, so it doesn’t take her long to recognize talent when she sees it. Of the hundreds of manuscripts she has read since joining D4EO she has found only one that took her breath away. She’s hungry for that jewel in the slush pile. Like all agents, she is looking for a one or two sentence “high concept” pitch that will knock her socks off. In lieu of that, she wants to meet passionate characters with believable conflicts.

     Joyce is past president and current conference coordinator for Emerald Coast Writers in Florida. She and her husband, Tony, live on a small barrier island, but spend much of their time traveling the rivers of America on their trawler, Code One.

Okay onto the terrific interview:

Sayde:  Tell us what you think is hot and what’s not. ?

Mrs. Holland:

I may not be the one to ask, since I am still amazed at the success of vampire stories and chick lit. Romance and thrillers are always popular. People are escapists in the best of times, but when things are tough in the world, as they are right now, they make an incredible leap and choose material as far removed from reality as they can get. Witness the popularity of books on vampires, werewolves, and such, not to mention movies like Avatar.  But even in Twilight and Avatar, the love theme prevailed. Romance in any setting, sells.

Sayde: What types of work are you most interested in seeing at the 2010 Silken Sands Conference?

Mrs. Holland:

Romantic thrillers with a twist are my favorite and I love mild sci-fi and paranormals. Give me a mad scientist with an experiment gone wrong, or an extraordinary child with powers of good or evil. Throw in a romantic element and you have my attention. I’m up to my eyebrows in vampires, witches and werewolves and don’t want to see another one right now. I enjoy non-fiction, and I’m particularly fascinated by books on the subject of death and the afterlife, if they’re not preachy.  I read romance, true crime, horror and mystery, you name it, all genre fiction. I’m the wrong agent for high literary, young adult or memoirs. 

Sayde: This question goes back to the “writer rumors”, but so many times I’ve heard that agents/editors will throw out a manuscript if they see grammatical errors. Personally, this is a huge one for me as I am grammatically challenged.  Many times authors will edit and edit then send to a contest and have their manuscript ripped to shreds because they used “ing”, “ly” or “was” to much for the judges liking. Do you look for these issues when reading requested material or is it more about the story?  

Mrs. Holland:

Oh, oh, sorry. I certainly do look for those issues! The particular examples you selected have more to do with poor story telling than they do with grammar.  The constant use of passive verbs destroys the flow of a story. Real grammar errors can be fixed in a heartbeat. The inability to make words sing, cannot.

Sayde: What is your opinion on emarket vs. traditional print? I know this is a hot topic and we all appreciate whatever comments you can give us.

Mrs. Holland:

I think its time has arrived, especially with the new technology out there. Everyone is walking around with reading devices of one kind or another. The price will soon be affordable. It should be already when you consider they have eliminated the distributor and the bookstore. Will real books be a thing of the past? Never. ‘They’ said that about radio when TV came along.

Sayde:  I know that when I am researching an agent or editor, I Google them, check their Facebook page, and tweet them. I read their posts and blogs.  I try to see if their tastes would lean toward my writing style or not. And I try to get a feel for their personality to see if we might “mesh well” if the opportunity ever arose. If you have a manuscript on your desk, do you ever check the same accounts for that author?  Do you ever check to see what he/she is posting? If so, have you been influenced by what you’ve learned?

Mrs. Holland:

I received 54 manuscripts by email this week. If a query letter indicates the author is widely published, I will take a quick look at where they were published. It matters. Who sent them a flattering blurb, does not. People who twitter and blog constantly are probably building and reaching a wide audience, which is a good thing, but I don’t have time to follow them.

Sayde: If an author has queried you and you’ve rejected that query/partial and the author emails you asking for details on why you’ve rejected their ms, what is your process here? Do you give specific reasons on why the manuscript may not have been for you?

Mrs. Holland:

I almost always respond with comments when I read a query or sample chapters. If I don’t, it would be a waste of time to write and ask me for details. But I have to say, with the increase in submissions I’m currently experiencing, I may have to stop constructive comments. If I’m really intrigued by a story premise, I do ask authors to fix manuscripts and resend them. Numerous emails requesting the status of a manuscript receive prompt attention. I send them right back as a reject. Honest, I’m reading as fast as I can.

Sayde: As a final wrap up could you tell us some of your pet peeves in the industry? Or is there anything happening in the industry you’d care to comment on or discuss?  We’d love to hear some of your views and opinions on the state of the craft and the market.

Mrs. Holland:

I don’t have any pet peeves regarding the industry. I do have a few thoughts to share on submissions and how to approach an agent. If you submit to me, please send me a one or two sentence ‘pitch’ that will excite me. Put it at the top of the query letter. Open your story with the inciting incident. Make something dramatic happen, or make me absolutely love your protagonist. Don’t tell me you’re building up to it with background material I have to have. Your premise doesn’t have to be high concept, but it does have to demonstrate passion. Other than that, send a one to three page synopsis and the whole manuscript.  Email or snail-mail. Believe it or not, I’m dying to find the jewel in the slush pile. I dream about it. So, you brilliant, talented author, send it to me!

All right everyone please make sure to leave your comments for Mrs. Holland and once again I’d like to thank her for taking time out of her schedule to participate in the countdown. Thursday we will have agent Elaine Spencer of the Knight Agency.

Also I will announce the winner of the Gift Card today in the comments section so please check back regularly. Thanks everyone.

Sayde

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16 Responses

  1. Mrs. Holland, thank you for talking with us. I look forward to meeting you at the conference.

    Sayde, I hope you get to feeling better by conference. If not, don’t breathe on me! 🙂

  2. Sayde, once again, great interview!

    Mrs. Holland, if you had to pick your favorite book of all time, which would it be?
    Also, what do you think of zombie romances? I’m not writing one, but I find the idea intriguing. Do you think they could be the next hot item in paranormal romance?

    • My favorite book of all time? Oh, my, that’s a tough one. I would have to say that it would be whatever I liked best lately. And for me, that would be just about anything by Greg Iles.
      Zombie romances. Truth be told, I haven’t seen one. You may be on to something.

  3. Great interview. Lots of good information. Looking foward to meeting you at Silken Sands. After reading your interview, I’m a little sad I’m not signed up to pitch to you.

  4. Mrs Holland,
    Thank you for visiting with us today. I have two questions actually.

    Do you see alot of steampunk come through your agency and what is your opinion on it?

    Harlequin added their self publication department, do you think other major publishers will lean to that format?

  5. Another great interview! Thanks, Joyce and Southern Sizzlers!

  6. Joyce, loved the interview. I’m looking forward to seeing you again.
    p.s. I want a trawler!

  7. After reading this interview I have to say I absolutely love your candidness and sense of reality with information. It almost makes me hate the fact I write werewolf and witch stories, but I can console myself with the fact you’re full up on them at the moment.

    Thank you for your time with our blog, Ms. Holland–we know you’re busy and each interview eats into the time you could be working. You won’t find a more grateful group anywhere!

    Looking forward to meeting you!

  8. Oh boy. an agent who can live with e-books. Thanks for talking to us and thank you also for coming to our conference. I look forward to meeting you.

  9. Great interview Ms. Holland. I love your method of having writers bring a synopsis and the first three pages. I’m looking forward to pitching to you at Silken Sands!

  10. I’m excited about coming to Silken Sands. It’s hard to believe it’s just around the corner. See you soon.

    Joyce

  11. Thanks so much for dropping in Mrs. Holland! We are so excited about conference and getting to meet you. So as I promised to the Sizzler Nation(yeah I said it) I’ve randomly drawn for a number(actually i emailed SfCatty and she sent me a number) and the winner of the Gift Card is from Cat Johnson’s interview is Miranda, so Ms. Miranda please drop me a line at saydegrace@gmail.com so i can get that to you.

  12. […] ladies at Southern Sizzle Romance recently interviewed literary agent Joyce Holland of the D4EO […]

  13. Greetings Ms. Holland. What a great interview. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the conference. Sorry I’m late in replying to your interview. Paula Hardin

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