Boy do I feel lucky today! I have for you an interview with brand new literary agent, Weronika Janczuk! She is now representing fiction and non-fiction with the D4EO Literary Agency. "Brand new" is a bit of a faulty modifier, as Weronika actually has had amazing experience in the publishing industry already:
Weronika began her career in publishing at Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., where she interned with acquisitions editor Brian Farrey at Flux and editors Carrie Obry and Elysia Gallo at Llewellyn. Since then, she’s interned with Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency, freelance read for Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management, read and edited for Mary Kole at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and worked with Bob Diforio before her promotion to associate agent. She has also worked as a freelance editor.
And now, without further ado, here is the interview:
1. What book or genre sparked your interest in publishing?
I don’t know if I can attribute my interest in publishing to one book or genre. It was more of a process for me—I was the kid in middle and high school that everyone knew was a bookworm. I read during passing periods, through boring lessons, and on the bus. By middle school, I was reading adult thrillers and horrors; by high school, romance and dense literary fiction had joined the ranks. I read everything.
I became addicted to the possibility of new worlds, to characters as real as people, to the stories that take me away for a longer and more magical time than movies ever will—whether it’s a story about espionage or love, death or forgiveness. Nothing makes me happier than the opportunity to work with books like that professionally.
2. When did you first know you wanted to be on the literary agent side of the table?
I knew this was the kind of job for me in December 2009, when I was introduced to the business an agent does through an internship. I love that an agent gets to both work with writers and their projects—the editorial work that I’ve found addicting—but also be an advocate, be aggressive about clients’ interests, and help launch careers. For me there is nothing more rewarding.
3. You've had a lot of experience in publishing already, as an intern in both acquisitions and agenting. You've also been a reader and freelance editor. In your opinion, what is the most crucial phase of the process, from manuscript to published book?
The most crucial point, I think, is the stage of rewriting and revising. This is the last stage in the path to the book’s publication that writers can control completely. Even though I tend to be optimistic about the publishing end of the business—that publishers put in as much work as possible for their authors, that good books will get recognized—nothing will define an author’s career path more than the author and the quality of the projects they submit to agents and editors.
I plan to challenge my authors as much as possible, so that they do not become a one-time success and instead continue to hone craft and structure. Chances are that an additional revision or rewrite will strengthen incredibly the entire manuscript.
4. There seem to be a lot of agent/author combinations these days. Have you ever wanted to be an author? Any books we should be looking for by Weronika Janczuk?
I am also a writer, yes, and I’m in the process of rewriting a YA novel now. I’m sure that it will be a few years minimum before anything of mine hits the shelves. I’ll need to go through the same process as everyone else—finished project, agent, book deal, etc.
5. Your submissions guidelines say you leave the MG and YA to your colleague, Mandy Hubbard, and focus more on
· single-title romance
· women's fiction
· literary fiction
· commercial fiction
· thrillers/mysteries/crime fiction
· commercial non-fiction
What would you drop everything to check out if you received a well-written query for it RIGHT NOW?
Right now, at this very second, I would read anything fast-paced and smart with good writing—a thriller, anything of fantasy/sci-fi nature, a horror. I am a sucker for good, good writing too, and if the writing is poor, it’ll be an immediate pass, whether or not the concept is great. Once I’m hooked on something, I’m hooked. I’ve lost much sleep to good books.
6. You call yourself a "diehard lover of epics" in regards to fantasy and sci-fi, especially anything with series potential. I'm sure you've just made all the fantasy/sci-fi writers out there very happy! What are you definitely NOT looking for in these genres?
I can’t think of anything specific. Unlike paranormal fiction—and the rise of vampires, zombies, whatever—I don’t think there is anything right now in either fantasy or sci-fi that has been tremendously overdone. The reason my interests are so scattered is because my only condition, while reading, is good writing; I will fall for any concept, any approach, to a subject matter or genre if it is fresh, surprising, or eye opening. That’s why I’m so excited about fantasy/sci-fi—they are two of the most dynamic genres out there in terms of concept.
7. What is the single most important personality trait you are looking for in authors you represent?
Passion, without a doubt—passion for writing and careers, passion for possibility, passion for work. I am a career agent. I want to represent writers who will write good books for a long time and will work to rewrite, restructure, and grow, and writers that will never lose that passion.
8. Query format comes down to agent preference. Are you one of those agents who prefers personal greeting first? Or would you rather the author just jumped right into the pitch?
I don’t have a preference.
To be honest, I rarely read the query first. I scan for title, genre, and word count, which are usually easy to find, and then I jump straight into the pages. Only if I’m drawn to the writing will I double-check the query to make sure it’s a concept that I want to work with and that I think would sell, if the entire novel delivered.
9. With regard to word count, what are you looking for in an author's first book? High and low standards?
Unless the writing is incredible, word count should stay within the genre ranges. Looking at what I represent, this will be anywhere from 60k—120k, on average. Unless I fall in love with the writing, I won’t want to invest time in helping to restructure short or long novels to fit standards—those require an incredible amount of work and many, many rounds of rewrites and revisions.