I was lucky to be able to interview the bright and creatively minded Lucas Hunt – literary agent at Orchard Literary in NYC. Most of the BookHive BuzzBlog from here on out will be interview based in order to serve writers and readers best! Here is what he had to say.
1. Tell us who you are and where you’re from.
My name is Lucas Hunt, and I am from Iowa, by way of The Hamptons.
Lucas Hunt of Orchard Literary
2. What is your professional background and how did you end up with Orchard Literary?
My professional background is in arts and literature. In college and graduate school, I worked at independent bookstores, and assisted various artists and writers. For the last eight years, I’ve worked as a literary agent and rights manager to represent the interests of authors.
3. What clients are Orchard Literary looking for?
Orchard Literary is looking for exceptional fiction and non-fiction. In fiction, we like strong literary voices with purpose, and a fine awareness of things great and small. Some writers I love are DH Lawrence, Simon Van Boy, Georges Simenon, and Michel Houellebecq. In non-fiction, we seek memoirs, essays, and book proposals by experts in their field; people who can prove their authority of a subject on the page, and have done some work in establishing their reputations as authors. I am especially fond of travel writing, cultural criticism and biography. We currently represent authors in the fields of health and wellness, business, cooking and interior design.
4. I’m sure it varies, but how many clients would you typically take in a year, and how does this compare to the number of submissions you receive?
I will take approximately ten clients per year, out of a sea of one thousand submissions.
5. How do you meet new clients, or how do they find you?
We look for outstanding writers online and in papers, magazines, journals, and literary reviews. Also we love referrals, and an immaculate submission via a query letter.
6. Walk us through a great query letter, and a not-so-great query letter.
Great query letter: Hello my name is and this is why I’m writing you. My project is basically about this. A paragraph about my project. A paragraph about me, and what I have done an author. There’s a sample attached. Thank you, goodbye!
Not so great: Dear Ms. Hunt I have seven books and plan twelve more under the name Maximilian Jonathan Franco because my first marriage turned disastrous and since my time as a spy in the CIA, which led alien counter mafia terrorist forces in the future, I cannot tell you anymore about it, but I will be famous I’m sure, and I must address other agents now, so attached are seven documents for you to review asap!
7. For the self-published author, what sales are you hoping to see from their previous book(s) in order to spark your interest? Or do you not take this into account?
Significant sales would be a plus, but what we are looking for is measurable growth beyond the numbers. And that means an author with a strong vision of how they want to be published, who their audience is, and what they are willing to do to contribute to the fulfillment of that vision. Sales are a qualitative indicator of engagement with people, and we like to work with authors who are committed.
8. What other ways can an author stand apart and get noticed?
Writing well is the best revenge. Other than that, they can take the time to invest in their work just as an agent would, by making submissions in online and print, magazines and literary journals. Your work is your gift to the world, begin the responsibility of sharing it with the world now.
9. In what state do you expect to see a manuscript? It might seem obvious, but spell it out.
New York, unless I’m traveling, then in California, Texas, or possibly Florida. In a polished, well-edited state.
10. How many editors will you typically submit to on the first round?
11. If you get back a unanimous ‘no’ – what do yourself and the author do then?
We have a conversation about the possibility of making certain edits, and whether or not to make further submissions, based on the criticism we have received. We assess the comments, and make a decision of how to move forward.
12. What is the range of advances these days?
I have worked on deals from zero figure up to 8 figures. How many reader’s does an author bring to the table?
13. Once a manuscript is sold, how involved are you in the process through publication?
At Orchard Literary, we are very involved. We put out a press release, and up our social media presence on the authors behalf. We communicate with the editor, publicist and author to ensure the project moves ahead with real momentum. And we discuss what will come next with our author.
14. Any last advice to authors on how to break into traditional publishing?
Be true to your work. Be your own agent until you really need one. Be untraditional and unconventional.
That’s it for this month! And for all the authors out there – take advantage of BookHive’s $100 coupon off our services for the rest of the summer. Coupon code BUZZ. Find out more about how we test Fiction, YA/Middle Grade & Memoir with our awesome beta reader data base at our site: www.bookhivecorp.com
Jennifer Bowen, QueenBee, CEO & Founder, of BookHive Corp., thanks you for reading this blog and sharing it if you found it helpful on those good old social media platforms that you visit. Any questions about testing your book or bigger life ponderings, she can be reached at [email protected]