Like our workshop, these faculty interviews focus on youth novels. To read all years’ faculty interviews, see our Directory.
Established in 1995, S©ott Treimel New York is a full-service boutique agency representing the intellectual property rights in the work of authors and illustrators of children’s and YA books. From the beginning—before it was imperative—STNY provided hands-on editorial expertise to refine concepts, fine-tune projects, and pre-wash manuscripts, thereby presenting editors with the authors’ very best work. Bring your polished opening chapters or full novel to our October seminar; we look forward to introducing you to Scott!
I. GENERAL TOPICS
Why did you become an agent; what do you enjoy most about the work? What’s your personal (and agency’s) philosophy or mission?
I bounced around intentionally, working in different capacities, for an agency, two publishers, a newspaper syndicate, and a movie studio. After a dozen years, I chose agenting primarily because I can work most freely with creators: I like the depth of engagment with a writer’s talents and prospects. I have the perspective and bark to advocate for the little guy against The Man—I mean the Publisher—and feel I am fighting the good fight for the right players.
How many middle-grade (MG) and young-adult (YA) novels do you sell per year; how many are debut authors?
I am proud I discovered most of the talent I represent. Generally, we sell six to eight novels per year, with two or three debuts.
Which novel genres are you soliciting, or not? Will you acquire controversial and/or crossover genres, or New Adult fiction?
I love contemporary realism, magic realism, humor, historicals, coming-of-age, mysteries, psychological thrillers, scary stories, controversial and edgy stories, mash-ups, sci-fi when it is grounded in reality (Art Slade’s Dust: a hyper realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe). New adult? Meh. High fantasy is not my bag, and I do not like vampires or novels where the kid next door has to save the entire universe—unless it is tongue-in-cheek humor. I am not looking for supernatural, per se, or dystopian.
I acquire authors, not merely manuscripts. Everyone says that. I intend my investment in authors to pay increasing dividends over time, not at once.
What’s the outlook on YA novel trends—or is YA evolving past trends?
Contemporary realism is hot. People cite John Green, Jay Asher, and Laurie Halse Anderson as progenitors of the trend. Acquisitions nowadays are virtually all market-driven. Editors across publishing houses want the same thing at the same time. This has developed in the past ten years.
Name representative MG/YA novels you’ve sold in the past few years. Which aspects appealed to you from the query and/or manuscript’s first lines?
Zomboy, a middle-grade by Richard Scrimger, appealed to me from the beginning—about ten years ago. That was before the zombie trend surfaced; sadly, zombies were on the way out by the time the novel was submittable. The Zomboy is not the point-of-view character and he changes very little. But he is the only zombie, and he has to be bussed in to school; parents picket No Zombies in our Schools! and he is roundly bullied. Yet the protagonist-narrator and his best pal advance the Zomboy for class president. It has a racial-civil rights parallel and is very funny.
A Mad Wicked Folly, a teen historical, a debut, by Sharon Biggs Waller, came in, and we knew it would strike fans of Downton Abbey. Hero Worship, a teen “fantasy” and Christopher Long’s debut, I chose because its three principals, all with superpowers, are renegades who refuse to register with the authorities and live under a freeway underpass. The story feels like those about who sits at a popular lunch table and who gets shunned.
Queries, Craft, Critiques
Many publishers are closed to unsolicited submissions. Do you consider unsolicited queries; i.e., those without a referral (not a workshop attendee, etc.)? What are your usual response times—to queries and to requested manuscripts?
After twenty years, our submissions chute closed in January 2014. The volume, 3100-plus yearly was finally too daunting. I love and want to discover and develop talent, however, and still consider manuscripts/authors recommended by editor and writer pals and clients. My response time varies from one week to twelve.
Are query letters peripheral for you, or are they an important reflection on the author and manuscript? What makes a query irresistible to you—or not?
They reveal an author’s professionalism, which matters. A query is irresistible if the premise, format, and market prospects align—and the story is fresh. Originality, which is not a license for craziness, and craftsmanship are paramount.
How many pages do you usually read in a manuscript before deciding to continue reading, request a full, or reject the manuscript?
From one to ten pages.