Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Interview: Agent Bree Ogden

When I received a New Agent Alert from Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents last April, it caught my attention. It was for agent Bree Ogden of Martin Literary Management. Not only does she rep what I write, but her agency is here in Western Washington. A stone's throw away, bloggy friends. Yes, I was curious.

Ms. Ogden was so sweet when I contacted her, and I'm super excited to share her informative interview with you. Enjoy!

* * *

Bree Ogden is an agent for Martin Literary Management, representing graphic novels and children's books. She is especially interested in darker plots (think Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay) and loves dystopian, unique and fresh supernatural elements. Science fiction graphic novels and graphic novels that challenge the reader to think as well as have a great visual hook, stories that are very visual in nature, and books with a philosophical hook are equally of interest. What she is not interested in is vampires or werewolves.

Dawn: What do you like best about agenting?

My clients. They are SO creative. There is creativity bursting at the seams of my clientele and I get to help them make a career out of it. How awesome is that? I have so much fun promoting them and working side by side with them to help them fine-tune their ideas.

Dawn: Tell us about a couple of your clients' projects. What drew you to them?

All of my clients' projects are amazing. I wouldn't have chosen them for representation if I hadn't been drawn to each one in a very similar way, which usually consists of not being able to put the manuscript down, knowing it will sell in this market, great writing, and loving the characters. I'll tell you about some of my newer projects:

Pair of Normals
by D.M. Cunningham had me dying of laughter within the first chapter. D.M. had been sending me a few chapters at a time (he was already my client) and I would read them out loud to my nieces and nephews and the fact that myself as a twenty-seven-year-old, and them as six- to ten-year-olds all had the same gleeful/anticipatory reaction to the chapters and upcoming chapters really meant something to me.

Death's Island
by Kelsey Ketch really gripped my senses and at times, my heartstrings. It's dark and gritty, but somehow extremely realistic even though there are plenty of unrealistic qualities to it. I was really drawn to that sentiment of realistic horror.

I'm currently working on a few edits for a manuscript written by my client, Peter Landau, called
Nickelan Wand. Among all the amazing things that pulled me into this story I can just say that it is so ridiculously unique and irreverent. The writing is stunning and the characters are so loveable, even the ones you hate.

And of course, Kate Grace's
Burden of the Soul, which I started reading the manuscript around midnight and couldn't stop until I finished. I knew I had to sign her.

The truth is though, I am extremely excited about ALL my projects, I whole-heartedly believe in each one and the pending success each one will enjoy. Whether it is an overzealous, slightly snarky imaginary Raven; a sassy, buxom, teenage paranormal fighting dream machine; a young girl trying to find herself while fighting a war with faeries; or sirens and ocean nymphs living among us--horror, romance, middle grade humor: I only represent amazing characters and plot lines and I only surround myself by delicious talent. Period.

Dawn: I've heard we shouldn't write to the trends, but we should be aware of them. What are your thoughts on this? How do trends affect your decision-making process while reading submissions?

Trends are tricky. The very essence of a trend is that it is always changing. This is why you have to be insanely careful about writing on trends: by the time you have an idea for a manuscript, finish writing it, edit it, find an agent, sell it to a publisher, and see it on shelves, you've seen a few years pass. That trend is most likely dust by then. So either you need to be way ahead of the trend, or know that it will be a long lasting trend. Like vampires, for instance. As much as I hate to admit it, those suckers had (have?) a long shelf life. But I think that other less prevalent creatures, like anthropomorphic sea life or faeries, are going to have a shorter shelf life.

It's really tough, as an agent, to know if the specific trend of the manuscript I'm reading is already being published for some publisher's upcoming list and they don't want/need any more of that trend. No one is privy to that information but the editors. It's one big guessing game. I just have to go with my instincts. If I love the storyline and the writing, I have to believe that an editor will as well.

Dawn: Do you have any submission pet peeves?

I'm not fond of being called "Sir." Haha. I've seen some pretty bad queries but I wouldn't file them under pet peeves. The pet peeves come when I can tell that the author hasn't done the research, i.e., they query me for an adult true crime, etc. Also, most agents are pretty specific that they don't want attachments in the email, so that is kind of a pet peeve. But really, I just want to know what the manuscript is about without having to put a huge amount of effort into figuring it out. It shouldn't be an Easter egg hunt for the plot line.

Dawn: What are you looking for right now?

I'm looking for quite a bit...all very different from what is out in the marketplace right now. I just finished reading a series of devilish books from the Harlequin Vintage series, i.e., Kiss Your Elbow, I'll Bury My Dead, You Never Know with Women, etc. I would love--with a capital L--a manuscript with that sort of vintage noir drama but set in a modern day. Think femme fatale, film noir, dark and mysterious. Which leads to my next desire...I would love something along the lines of Mad Men. And of course I love zombies, but those are very hard to write well.

I've never been a huge sugary romance fan, so if you are submitting a romance to me, it has got to have grit, realistic conflict, and maybe not so much of a happy ending? I also think that a faux memoir, middle grade or young adult, if done well, could be amazing. I would love to see that in my inbox. And even more so, I would LOVE a real memoir told in graphic novel form.

And of course, I love quirky boy-centric middle grade, always! I am always and forever looking for great middle grade. It is my favorite genre to represent.

Dawn: Do you have any advice for new writers?

Start marketing yourself right now. Use the Internet in every way possible. Get your name out there. Build a powerful blog and get a following. Join writers' groups. Get beta readers. Join sites like inkpop.com. Attend writers' conferences. Do your research. There are so many tools to help you achieve your goal. You just have to really really want it. This isn't a process you can rush through. You have to fine-tune everything before you move on to the next step in the business.

* * *

Bree Ogden will be at the SoCal Writers' Conference this weekend. She'll be speaking at the Missouri SCBWI Conference in St. Louis on November 6, 2010, and she'll also be speaking at the 13th annual Whidbey Island Writers Conference on Whidbey Island, Washington, April 1-3, 2011.

To learn about Martin Literary Management's submission process, click
here. You can visit Bree's blog at www.agentbree.wordpress.com.

Thank you for the interview, Bree!

UPDATE (November 2011): Bree is now an Associate Agent at D4EO Literary Agency. You can learn what she is currently seeking here.


Kelly Polark said...

Thanks for the heads up on a new agent, Dawn! Excellent, informative interview!

Lydia Sharp said...

Great interview! I'm tweeting this.

Terri Tiffany said...

This was a really good interview:) I wish I wrote the kind of work she is looking for:)

Unknown said...

Great interview!

I wish she had mentioned what she is looking for in YA (other than no vampires).

Susan R. Mills said...

Excellent interview! Thank you both.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant Interview! Thank you, Bree! Thank you, Dawn!

Diane said...

Checking her out. Thanks for the link! :O)

Travener said...

Interesting. Thanks.

D.M.Cunningham said...

Great interview! I feel truly blessed to have such an awesome agent! Get writing peeps! Thanks Dawn!

Michelle L. Brown said...

Thanks for the interview! Bree is so inspiring! Yay for agents who love middle-grade!

Randy said...

Dawn: This is a fantastic interview, as are all Bree's interviews. As DM states: 'I feel truly blessed to have such an awesome agent!' One of the many reasons I feel this way is because you can feel her energy through her responses. That's a quality missing in this industry. It's this type of energy that will propel her to the top. I see great things in her future. Great job!!!

Tamika: said...

What an insightful interview~ thanks ladies!

It's always intriguing to see the mind of an agent and what helps to turn them on instead of off:)

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks for all the comments! :)

Randy, I noticed her wonderful energy, too! She gave us great information and really impressed me.

Renae said...

Great interview Bree! Matt and Randy summed it up for me. Your the best!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great interview, Dawn! I love Bree's blog...She features some awesome artwork! I didn't realize she was going to be at STL's conference...I may have to go to that one if the weather's nice. :) I miss my writing buddies down there...

Slamdunk said...

Informative interview.

I liked Bree's response on trends--it takes so much time for an idea to go to print that it is difficult to keep pace with how quickly they change.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Great interview!

Yay, Pacific Northwest!!


Anonymous said...

Wish I could make the SoCal Writers Conference as I'm in the area. But I have other arrangements. Thanks for sharing. Every little bit helps, especially for self published authors like myself.

Stephen Tremp

Laura Pauling said...

What a great interview! Thanks, Dawn and Bree!

Hema Penmetsa said...

Great questions, Dawn, and equally good answers from Bree. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Dawn Simon said...

Thanks again, Bree, for the interview!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow, great marketing advice!

I thought it was interesting to take a peek at some of the kind of stories she's representing too.


Brad Jaeger said...

Bree is a wonderful agent from what I hear!

Cool blog, methinks I'll follow it.

Samantha Bennett said...

Ooh! Those stories sound intriguing. Great interview!


That was a really great interview. I like that you asked her very specific and useful questions, and that she had very honest and informative answers. She also sounds like a cool person, period. Thanks for doing this! Makes your blog stand out!

Jackee said...

Wonderful advice and so great to get to know Bree. Thanks so much, ladies!!

Suma Subramaniam said...

What a thoughtfully laid out interview. The agent has some really constructive points. Loved the last answer - "You have to fine-tune everything before you move on to the next step" I need this so badly.

Thanks for sharing this interview.