Today I’m happy to welcome Saba Sulaiman to the Sub It Club blog! Saba is a Junior Agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services. Before being promoted she was an assistant working through thousands of queries in a number of genres. Prior to coming to Talcott Notch, Saba was an editorial intern at Sourcebooks. Working with the small publishing house was great for her as she got to jump in and really learn the publishing ropes. Saba’s always been the go-to editorial person in her circles for as long as she can remember, so becoming an agent is the perfect fit for her. You can read more about Saba in her bio on the Talcott Notch website. She’s actively building her list, which is a great opportunity for those of you on the agent search! Saba is looking to represent Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Nonfiction.
In the Adult category Saba is looking for up-market and literary commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir. She is open to all New Adult and Young Adult subgenres excluding paranormal and science fiction. Saba is open to Middle Grade and humorous nonfiction as well. She is very interested in diverse books that contain multicultural perspectives. Go follow her @agentsaba on Twitter. Check out her #MSWL posts to see what’s striking her fancy. And psst… she also loves magical realism.
Saba is here today to tell us a little bit about herself and what she is looking to represent because… she will be coming back to the Sub It Club blog to take your pitches on Tuesday, February 3rd! So, read on to learn more about Saba. (We’ll share pitch details at the end of this post.) Then get those pitches ready! You know you can find help to polish them up in our Sub It Club submission support group.
Saba, thank you so much for joining us here at Sub It Club to help celebrate our 2 year anniversary! Tell us, how long have you been at Talcott Notch?
I joined Talcott Notch as an Assistant in 2013, and I just started agenting full-time.
How does the support of the other agents at Talcott Notch Literary Services help you as a Junior Agent?
Our president, Gina Panettieri, has been nothing short of a mentor to all of us at Talcott Notch. She has extensive industry knowledge and a career spanning over two decades. She’s always very generous with her time and advice. My other co-agents are also very friendly and approachable—no question is ever silly (or so they say!) They’re in various stages of their careers, so it’s always useful to observe how they handle their clients and deals.
What does a manuscript need to hook you and get you to offer representation?
A strong, captivating voice; well-realized characters in relationships that evolve over the course of the manuscript; deft plotting; and the ability to stay with me even after I’ve read it. Humor and wit are always a plus.
What are some of the most common reasons you pass on manuscripts?
Most manuscripts I pass on simply don’t engage me enough—whether it’s the voice, a lack of conflict, or simply the fact that some aspect of the subject matter or setting doesn’t interest me.
How much work are you willing to do with an author on a manuscript you love?
Honestly, if I love the manuscript, I’m willing to do what it takes to make everyone else love it. That’s why it’s so important for me to really connect to the work I represent—I can’t justify the time and energy I invest into it otherwise.
How important is author platform to you when it comes to clients?
For fiction, it isn’t a prerequisite for me. I think having an online presence is important in general, but it can be worked on later—I’d rather my clients concentrate on honing their craft. For non-fiction, it’s definitely more important, since you need to establish that you’re an authority or expert in your field to get readers to trust you.
What do you look for in a client ideally?
My ideal client is professional, focused, disciplined, open to feedback and willing to revise, revise, revise until the manuscript is perfect!
What do you think makes a good query letter? Any pet peeves?
A good query letter is short. It presents the hook, introduces the characters briefly, and states the conflict. It can’t hurt if the query has a flavor of the project’s voice. End that with a short bio with information that is relevant to the book being queried, and you’re good to go! My biggest pet peeve is when authors wax poetic about how they’ve written the next big bestseller and don’t actually talk at all about their book (yes, this happens a lot.)
Any advice on how to formulate a pitch? What elements do you think are important?
Be concise and specific. Try to come up with comp titles that immediately convey a sense of certain aspects of your project—something like X meets Y. You can also use films or TV shows as comps if they feel more relevant.
Thank you Saba, for sharing so much great information with us! Saba will be here on the Sub It Club blog next Tuesday taking your pitches so, like I said, get them polished up! She will be requesting or offering feedback on those pitches that pique her interest. Our pitch party will be posted separately on February 3rd. Please only pitch completed work, and please only pitch those genres that Saba represents: Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Nonfiction.
Pitches are to consist of:
- Word count:
- Pitch: 100-words maximum. (Remember a pitch needs to show the conflict, what is at stake for the main character, and hook Saba into wanting to read more!)
- Excerpt: The first 100-words of your novel. (If the 100th word is in the middle of the sentence don’t worry, just finish it out.)
The pitch post will go live at 9am EST and will be open until 5pm EST on Tuesday, February 3rd. See you there!