Friday, November 27, 2009

INTERVIEW: Kate Schafer Testerman Founder of KT Literary

Kate Schafer Testerman was a literary agent at Janklow & Nesbit Associates for nearly ten years, before founding her own KT Literary in 2008. She is interested in middle grade YA fiction as well as adult commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction. Her interests cover a broad range including teen chick lit, urban fantasy, magical realism, adventure stories, and romantic comedies.

She loves working with her authors, offering hands-on experience, personal service, and a lot of encouragement.

Her clients include Maureen Johnson which Disney-Hyperion, has acquired a three book deal series from Ms. Johnson who is the best selling young adult author. The auction agreement was negotiated by Jennifer Besser, Executive Editor, Disney Book Group, and Kate Schafer Testerman.

Alyson Noël, Her book, Evermore, is a New York Times Bestseller and it was released in February 2009. Her next book in the series, Blue Moon, was released in July 2009. It was also another New York Times Bestseller. Ms. Noel’s third book in the series, Shadowland is now available for Pre-order at Amazon. Shadowland will be released November 17th 2009.

Ellen Booraem, YALSA have nominated her Best Books for Young Adult list 2010

Daniel J. Blau- Producer/writer on America’s Next Top Model

S. Terrel French, Josie Bloss, Matthew Cody among other exciting newcomers.

Ms. Testerman is a graduate of the University of Delaware’s Honors Program. She’s a former cast member of the New York Renaissance Faire and an active member of the Society Of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators

E.I. How involved do you get with making changes and revisions to a work? Do you suggest revisions to your clients before submitting the work to publishers?

K.T. I like to think of myself as a "big picture" editor for my clients. Often when I'm considering a manuscript for representation, I can see ways in which the manuscript can be improved. I like to have a conversation with the author and talk about these possible revisions, see if they mesh well with the author's own thought about their novel. Usually, I will ask for a revision even before officially signing a client, so I can see how they work with editorial suggestions. It's not a line edit, however, I might comment on the pacing of the plot, the characters' motivations and how they're expressed, parts I like and want to see more of, and parts that might detract from the bigger story.

Ideally, the author and I are working together on the manuscript before any submissions to editors take place, to try to get the book in as perfect a shape as we can -- with the full knowledge that "perfect" may vary from editor to editor, and that an author's revisions only end when a book is in the stores, if then.

E.I. What does exclusive read mean for both agent and writer? Under what circumstances might an agent request an exclusive read if he/she is interested in a manuscript?

K.T. I don't ask that authors submit to me exclusively -- which means that when they send me their query, I expect that they're also querying other agents. Even if I like a query letter and ask for a partial, even beyond that if I like the partial and want to read more, I don't ask for an exclusive look at a full manuscript. The only time I do ask for exclusivity is if, as in your prior question, I've shared my thoughts and comments with the author on what I would like to see in a revision. Then I expect that the revision -- drafted based on my conversation with the author -- would be mine to look at exclusively for a set period of time, after which, if I haven't yet offered representation or made a decision, the author is free to send to other agents. Some agents work differently, and if they like a query, will ask for a manuscript exclusively. That's just not the way I work. I like the competition! Sometimes finding out that an author has other interest will help me really define my thoughts on a submission.

E.I. Are there any acquisition trends you see on the near horizon?

K.T. I'm hearing a lot of interest from editors in great middle grade fiction, but that's not so much a trend as it is a constant need. I don't know that the next big thing is. We've had vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies... I have an author with a YA series featuring ghosts that we hope will be a big hit, but is it a trend? I don't think so. The most interesting thing I've seen lately was completely different than everything else I've received lately -- if that's a trend, fine. Call it a "unique hook."

Photo of Kate Schaffer Testerman by Sonya Sones

To learn more about Kate Schafer Testerman please visit her WEBSITE

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