Monday, January 4, 2010

INTERVIEW: Natalie M. Fischer - Literary Agent, Dijkstra Literary Agency

Natalie M. Fischer is not only a Literary Agent, submissions manager, but she’s also a general office support at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency that handles foreign tax and permission requests.

She specializes in quality commercial books, and currently represents authors in the young adult, middle grade, memoir, women’s, romance (both historical and contemporary), multi-cultural and supernatural mystery genres, biography, popular science/culture and literary creative fiction, cross cultural and select paranormal.

Ms. Fischer, would like to work with someone who is hard-working, talented new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. A former writer herself, she works very closely with her authors, offering editorial advice and support every step of the way.

She graduated with honors from the University of California, in San Diego with a B.A. in Literature/Writing. Ms. Fischer, worked as an intern at the Dijkstra Agency in 2007. She started as a columnist at the San Diego Union-Tribune writing book reviews and author profiles. She recently returned at the beginning of 2009 joining the agency full-time in April and currently still contributes freelance for the Books department at the San Diego Union Tribune.

The Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency is considered by many to be the most powerful agency on the West coast. They have helped to launch the careers of many best-sellers, including Lisa See (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan), Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), Diane Mott Davidson (Fatally Flakey), Irvin Yalom (The Schopenhaur Cure), and Stephen Prothero (Religious Literacy). One of their recent titles, The Poison King, by Adriane Mayor, was nominated for a National Book Award. They are one of the few agencies still accepting unsolicited work with open arms, The Dijkstra Agency has had multiple successes from the "slush," including Glenn Cooper's Library of the Dead, which has sold in over 26 countries and is a bestseller in three..

E.I. If you could choose the perfect manuscript you would want to see pop in through the mail slot tomorrow morning, what elements would it contain?

NF Our agency represents a wide range of fiction (literary, commercial, mysteries, and thrillers) and non-fiction (history, current events, self-help, memoir, and more), and, currently, we’re particularly interested in finding a fabulous new novel! Our backlist of quality fiction (including Amy Tan, Lisa See, Anchee Min, Chitra Divakaruni, Diane Mott Davidson, Kate White, and Glenn Cooper, among others) should give a good example of the types of fiction that most interest us, but we are always open to different types of projects, and hope to be captivated by story and character.

The ideal manuscript is well-written, spell-checked, grammatically and stylistically correct (a good look at the format quotations, paragraphs, and italics take in published books is the easiest way to double check yourself), and follows our current submission guidelines which can be found on our website. We’re looking for fresh ideas, original and engaging plot concepts, AND packaged with an ideal author…a patient, hard-working, professional individual who has an open mind to suggested edits, and who has an understanding of the market.

I’m acquiring in several areas, so my perfect manuscript would have (in addition to the qualities above) historical, paranormal, romantic, or young adult/middle grade elements (maybe even all four!).

E.I. What qualities must a query letter contain in order to capture your interest?

NF Simply put, my interest will be captured if the work submitted is what I’m looking for. Hopefully, the author has done his or her homework and researched exactly why I am the best agent for him or her! It makes a huge different to me, or any agent, to see that the author has put in that bit of extra time to personalize the project, and to show he or she has thought seriously about the submission. In turn, I take that submission all the more seriously.

A template of a good query letter and advice on how to approach an agent can be found on our website which contains the basic elements of how to look professional and stand out at the same time.

On the adverse side, queries that are overly bitter in subject, food-stained, smell of cigarettes, misspell my name or our agency’s name, have a word count above 100,000, or are not letter-opener friendly tend to immediately DE-captivate me…
Dijkstra Literary Agency has also represented some of the biggest and most prestigious book deals, including Amy Tan, Lisa See, Anchee Min, Chitra Divakaruni, Diane Mott Davidson, Kate White, and Glenn Cooper, among others.

To learn more about Natalie M Fischer, please visit their website

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