#SEACritterspub Agent Interview: Saba Sulaiman of the Talcott Notch Literary Services

24

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 agent Saba Sulaiman from the Talcott Notch Literary Services!

Saba Sulaiman

Agency: Talcott Notch Literary Services

Saba represents: Adult: up-market literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir.

Young Adult: all subgenres except paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi. I’m particularly interested in contemporary realistic YA — anything with heart, humor, personality, and depth. But if you’ve got a fast-paced, chilling mystery, I’m all ears.

Middle Grade: anything that’s smart, accessible and written with flair. Whether it’s quirky and funny, dark and creepy, or just plain sweet and heartwarming — it’s no big secret that this is my favorite category. Also, I’d love anything Roald Dahl-esque.

Non-fiction: humor.

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 born and raised in Sri Lanka, lived in Bangladesh for a few years, then moved to Pakistan for high school (where my parents are from). I interned at Sourcebooks before finding my home here at Talcott Notch. Hmm, hobbies… I like playing board games with my best friends, eating tons of chocolate, geeking out over languages, and everything and anything Bollywood. Oh and since becoming a mother, I like sleeping. A lot. It’s so great, really. And silence.

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

I’m looking for all kinds of Asian stories, particularly set outside of the US, but I’m eagerly looking for stories set in South Asia with South Asian characters. Bonus points if they’re intersectional characters (with respect to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, social class, physical/mental ability, education level, or age) or living on the fringes of mainstream culture in any way. I love regionally specific worldbuilding, sharp dialogue, and emotionally resonant writing that isn’t sentimental. And I also really love seeing humor integrated into the writing in smart, layered ways.

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

I’m currently open to the following genres:

  • Adult: up-market literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir.
  • Young Adult: all subgenres except paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi. I’m particularly interested in contemporary realistic YA — anything with heart, humor, personality, and depth. But if you’ve got a fast-paced, chilling mystery, I’m all ears.
  • Middle Grade: anything that’s smart, accessible and written with flair. Whether it’s quirky and funny, dark and creepy, or just plain sweet and heartwarming — it’s no big secret that this is my favorite category. Also, I’d love anything Roald Dahl-esque.
  • Non-fiction: humor.

I’m looking for strong voices and unconventional narratives that really make me sit up, pay attention, and move me. Introduce me to unforgettable characters with complex, deep relationships, and show me worlds where things aren’t necessarily as they seem. Intelligent, sharp writing with soul is my biggest weakness, and if you can offer a fresh perspective on top of that, I’ll probably be sold.

Also—and this deserves its own paragraph—I’m all about diversity, in all its various forms. Bonus points if your book contains multicultural perspectives, and themes of immigration, displacement, and cultural adjustment.

4. What are your submission guidelines?

From Saba’s website:

Materials to have ready:

  • Saba is currently closed to queries, but will make an exception for #SEACritterspub (Asian lit only!) queries, so be sure to specify this in your email!
  • I only accept email queries—please do not send me anything via snail mail. An email to [email protected] with the subject line “QUERY: Insert Title;Insert Genre” is the best way to catch my attention.
  • Please send me a short (no longer than a page) query, along with the first ten pages of your manuscript included within the email. I don’t open attachments unless I specifically ask for them later.
  • Open with a sentence with the following details: your project’s title, genre, and word count. Then, in 1-2 sentences, describe the core conflict of your project, and make it stand out—this is your chance to really draw me into your query. Try to include a hook that can convey certain aspects of your project immediately; something like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE meets PITCH PERFECT (also if you have this project, query me!) Then, tell me a little bit about your setting and the primary characters. Expand on the conflict of your story in a few sentences. And end with a short author bio, writing credits, and anything that is relevant to the project you’re querying.
  • I try to respond to all of my queries within 8 weeks. If you haven’t heard from me and it’s been over 12 weeks, please feel free to nudge me, and I will respond as soon as I can. If you have an offer of representation, please let me know and I will look at your query immediately.
  • If you have any specific questions for me regarding what I represent, the best place to ask is Twitter. It’s also where you will probably learn the most about me and what I’m looking for in my submissions.

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!