#SEACritterspub Agent Interview: Carrie Pestritto of the Laura Dail Literary Agency

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APRIL, 2018

Welcome to the #SEACritterspub interviews, where we spotlight agents and editors looking for Asian literature and / or Asian authors! This week it’s Carrie Pestritto from the Laura Dail Literary Agency!

Carrie Pestritto

Agency: Laura Dail Literary Agency

Carrie represents: Fiction (Children’s, Historical, Middle Grade, Mystery, Picture Books, Romance, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult); 

Non-Fiction (Biography, Memoir);

Favorite sub-genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary YA, Cozy Mystery, Gothic, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, YA Fantasy

MSWL

What is #SEACritterspub? 

This is an initiative started by Hanna Alkaf, Gail Villanueva, and I (all currently living in Southeast Asia) to help Asian authors (both diaspora and living outside of the US) learn more about querying and finding agents in the US! Aside from showcasing agents actively seeking Asian rep, we also post tips, advice, and occasionally offer query / 1st page critiques!

Before proceeding: please familiarize yourself with what a query is and how it works, general etiquette that authors need to know before finding an agent, and other helpful guidelines. Check out the #SeaCritterspub category on this blog (also located on the right side of this interview!) for more details!

Now, onwards to the interview!

1. Is there any information about yourself that you think people might like to know (literary agent experience, hobbies, etc.)?

I was previously at Prospect Agency and Writers House. Being adopted from South Korea when I was four months old, I have always been on the lookout for great stories with Asian MCs, but there weren’t very many readily available when I was growing up, which is why I am so passionate about helping raise up Asian voices as an agent. When not reading or working, I love to bake, paint, and explore New York, take pictures of my two adorable cats, and read some more!

2. Are there any specific Asian MS preferences you’re looking for (e.g., contemporary K-drama, Chinese martial arts fantasy, etc.) ?

I would absolutely LOVE to see contemporary K-drama, rich Asian fantasy, something that comps Moana, or contemporary stories with Asian MCs that do not solely revolve around issues of identity. I love lush settings, well-developed characters, and relatable, commercial voices.

3. What other things do you look for in a manuscript?

I am looking for fresh, diverse voices in fiction and nonfiction for adults and children.

In children’s lit, I accept picture books, middle grade, and young adult submissions.

For picture books, I gravitate toward non-fiction projects that explore history or current events and culture in new ways. I do not accept fiction submissions.

I’m looking for diverse contemporary or historical Middle Grade that’s fun and quirky. I like characters who deal with unique problems, and narratives showcasing acceptance. I’d love to find a great animal story with lots of heart and a great voice!

For young adult, I love narratives with strong setting and vibrant characters in any genre. In contemporary, I love strong voice and a great concept–send me your YA version of Crazy Rich Asians! I’d love to find a great YA mystery and/or historical YA in the vein of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, or a sweeping diverse Fantasy that introduces me to a new and exciting world. I’d love to find an atmospheric YA gothic, or a fresh retelling with a twist, and I’m yearning for a YA version of Yangsze Choo’s THE GHOST BRIDE.

For adult fiction, I accept mystery/thriller, chick lit, women’s fiction, romance, and historical fiction. I’d love to find a great cozy mystery with an engaging female lead, or a quirky romance with equal parts heat and heart!

In non-fiction, I am seeking narrative non-fiction and memoir. I look for authors that have a strong platform, such as a popular blog, published articles, or related professional experience. I love quirky memoirs that bring me into an atypical life situation, and tend to gravitate toward upbeat and funny, rather than inspirational narratives. I look for narrative non-fiction that reveals little-known aspects of history, or cutting edge relationship or dieting books, pop psychology, and pop science books.

I don’t like premises/themes that are too obvious, e.g. the girl in a restrictive community who yearn to break free, a young person who must learn to stand up to bullies, etc., but rather ones that have more nuance and whose messages are revealed in a buildup throughout the story.

My favorites change pretty frequently, but right now I’m enjoying MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, HISSING COUSINS, HIDDEN FIGURES, GINNY MOON, Alias Grace, Rick & Morty, The Crown, Atypical, and Versailles.

4. What are your submission guidelines?

From the Laura Dail Literary Agency website:

LDLA accepts email submissions only, so please follow the directions below closely. We do our best to answer every query letter within 2-4 weeks. If you receive a manuscript request, response time is closer to 8-10 weeks. Please wait to follow up until after the full length of time has elapsed. However, if you receive an offer of representation from another agent, please let us know immediately so we can respond within the timeframe you require.

Please only submit to one agent at a time* with one project at a time, making sure that your manuscript or proposal is complete and ready to be sent if requested.

*If you are querying after a Twitter pitch contest such as #pitmad or #DVpit, and more than one LDLA agent has favorited your tweet, please feel free to query simultaneously. We just ask that you let us know if more than one of us is considering your project.

Materials to have ready:

  • Send a concise email query letter to: queries [at] ldlainc [dot] com
  • Along with your book’s title, please include the name of the agent you are querying in the subject field. This helps guarantee that your submission ends up in the right person’s queue. (Example subject line: QUERY: [BOOK TITLE] for CARRIE PESTRITTO)
  • Your query letter should include a short pitch, a short plot summary, and a short bio. Please also include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits, if applicable. If you are a debut author, do not worry.
  • After your query letter, paste the FIRST 5-10 PAGES of your novel into the body of the email. Your writing sample MUST be pasted into the email, as we do not open unrequested attachments of any kind. You may also include a synopsis, but it’s not required.
  • If you are an author/illustrator, we highly recommend creating an online portfolio, which you can link to in your query instead of attaching sample artwork to an email. (Recommendation: If you like the way this site looks, then you’ll love Squarespace.)
  • Please do not query on a second, or third, project until we’ve replied to your first query.
  • If you are seeking an agent for your Asian lit manuscript, or if you are an Asian author, put #SEAcritterspub in the subject line when querying me!

5. What are things people should remember when sending you queries? Any advice regarding what catches your attention / what turns you off?

I get easily turned off by long, rambling prose, so be sure to keep your query concise and straightforward. My favorite queries are the ones that accurately capture the manuscript’s voice and leave me wanting to read more, rather than reading like an overly detailed synopsis.

 

To view the full list of agents currently seeking Asian lit / rep, go to this Google doc!

Are you an agent or an editor who’d like to participate in these interviews? Drop me an email at rin.chupeco[at]gmail[dot]com!