Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 23rd Annual A&E Conference in June, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette
Ammi-Joan Paquette is a senior agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, representing all types of children’s and YA literature. She is also the author of the Princess Juniper series, for which book #2, Princess Juniper of the Anju is newly out this year. Her other published works include the novels Paradox, Nowhere Girl, and Rules for Ghosting, and the picture books Ghost in the House, Petey & Pru & the Hullabaloo, and The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies/Mermaids.
In her agent acquisitions, Joan is particularly drawn to richly voiced, unforgettable characters and settings, as well as tightly-paced, well-plotted stories with twists and turns that keep you guessing right until the end.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Ammi-Joan Paquette: I’m quite hands-on and editorial in my approach to working with authors. My goal is to help bring the manuscripts I represent on to a point where they feel just as polished as I can help them to be. With the publishing landscape grown increasingly populated and competitive, I want to really help my authors’ work shine to a level where it becomes irresistible to editors.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
AJP: A unique point of view; a stand-out voice; a story that is not only entertaining but has something to say that extends beyond the page; a tight, strongly paced story with not a single wasted word.
Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?
AJP: I don’t think it’s essential. If it’s a medium that an author is comfortable with and finds productive, it can be a helpful way of spreading the word and gaining readers. But it’s just one way to interact with the reading public.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
AJP: Take your time. Publishing is not a race—it’s worth it to allow whatever time you need to thoroughly develop your craft and find your truest voice. Give your manuscripts the time and energy they need, and you won’t regret the results.
Scribe: Tell us about a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an agent.
AJP: I don’t really have one in particular of these moments—I think that’s what makes up the bulk of an agent’s life: taking chances, following your gut, falling in love with a voice, a story, an author, and then being able to find those connections that bring the spark that flares the whole bonfire to life. That’s magic! There’s nothing like it in the world.
— Thanks, Ammi-Joan!
Click here for more information on the 2016 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 24-26) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.