My Christmas wish came true two years ago when Adria Goetz of Martin Literary became my literary agent. I couldn't ask for a sweeter agent. Adria knows my writing probably better than I do! She's helped me grow as a writer, and one of our sales is her brainchild.
I would like to help someone else have their wish fulfilled as well. So I asked Adria if I could interview her, and of course, she said yes.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a literary agent based about an hour south of Seattle, where I live in a Victorian-era farmhouse with my husband Alex and our two silver cats, Maple and Mulberry. Outside of publishing, my life is currently filled with house renovations, writing a middle grade novel, having dinner every other week with friends from our church, cooking and baking, swimming at my gym, and dreaming about the day when we’ll finally get to be foster parents.
2. How did you get into agenting?
Through an internship! When I was in college, I knew I wanted to work within the publishing industry in some capacity, so I applied for every internship I could find that was in any way, shape or form connected to publishing. I wanted to see the publishing beast from every angle, and the angle I liked the view of best was through the eyes of an agent. My agency internship was with Martin Literary—the agency I’m still with today. I stuck around as an intern for two years, then after graduating from the University of Washington, the agency hired me as a personal assistant. I attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York, then returned to Seattle and made the leap of asking Martin Literary to take me on in an agent capacity. In some ways I feel like I grew up at this agency. I’ve been with Martin Literary since I was 19 years old!
3. What is your favorite part of being an agent?
Getting to feel like a Bookish Fairy godmother that makes people’s writing dreams come true.
4. What do you look for when acquiring a new client?
Kindness, savviness, talent, and a great work ethic.
5. What’s on your #mswl?
The top items are picture books by author/illustrators, a diverse YA Rom Com, a food-related graphic novel, and spooky picture books. I am also forever looking for magical stories, funny stories, and atmospheric stories.
6. What do you look for in a query letter?
An industry-standard word count, appropriate genre and age group (PB/MG/YA) classification, an intriguing blurb, spot-on comp titles, and something bio-related that will give me context for who the writer is as a person. I also like seeing that a writer is an SCBWI member, because that signals to me that they’re probably going to workshops, conferences, and plugged into a critique group, which means they’ll be a more polished and savvy client.
7. For those interested in the Christian market, what are editors asking for?
I’m hearing a lot of editors asking for books that foster genuine empathy, compassion, kindness, love, as well as books by diverse voices, and books that incorporate scripture in a unique way. I’m hearing editors say they don’t want books that are behavior-centered, overly didactic, or Bible story-based. Christian publishers definitely still publish Bible story-based books, but they’re often developed in-house.
8. How many clients do you currently represent? 34!
favorite color? Maroon
favorite food? Chicken pad thai.
favorite movies? The Princess Bride, Chocolat, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Big Fish,
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, Pride & Prejudice, Practical Magic, Julie & Julia, The Breakfast Club, Chef, Stranger Than Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and Saving Mr. Banks.
favorite animal? Raccoons. I know that they have a terrifying disposition, but their little faces and paws are so cute.
favorite holiday? Halloween. I love all things spooky.
favorite books from your childhood?
My mom read every book in The Chronicles of Narnia series to me and my three sisters, which is such a sweet memory for me, so those books will always be dear to me.
When I could read on my own, I devoured A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I also loved the Magic Treehouse books, American Girl Doll books, Holes by Louis Sachar, and The Ancient One by T.A. Barron.
What are you reading now?
I’m always reading like eight books at once. The current ones are FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang, GREENGLASS HOUSE by Kate Milford, THE DOLLHOUSE by Fiona Davis, HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES by Carmen Maria Machado, INSPIRED by Rachel Held Evans, INVISIBLE GHOSTS by Robyn Schneider, I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK by Michelle McNamara, and WITHERING-BY-SEA by Judith Rossell.
If writers would like to query you after reading this, what are your instructions?
For picture book queries, they can include a query letter and the text of their manuscript pasted in the body of your email. If they’re an author/illustrator, they can send their full dummy as an attachment. For middle grade or young adult submissions, they can email me their query with the first chapter of their manuscript attached to the email, and a synopsis if they have one available.
Queries can be sent to Adria@MartinLit.com.
You can check out Martin Literary here.
For another recent interview of Adria, click here.
Thanks so much, Adria, for taking the time to answer my questions! You've been an awesome agent to work and grow with these past two years and FOUR book contracts (the last one to be announced soon).
In honor of our 2nd agent-versary (I just coined a new term), I'd like to host a FREE picture book critique or a query letter critique by ME (Tina Cho) before you send to an agent. If you'd like to be in the drawing, please say so in the comments. Someone will be chosen on Christmas Day!
12/20/2018 08:26:37 am
Loved your interview, Tina! Congratulations on your newest soon to be announced contract. Thank you for the wonderful critique opportunity
12/20/2018 10:24:14 am
Congratulations Tina on your lovely agent and work❤️
12/20/2018 10:27:57 am
Thank you for posting this interview! All insight is so helpful with the querying process. I’d love to be entered in the drawing!
12/20/2018 10:31:18 am
Thank you for this thoughtful interview, Tina, and for your generous offer! I really enjoyed Rice from Heaven, and have recommended it to others.
12/20/2018 11:39:51 am
Your agent sounds lovely, Tina. I can see why you'd be a great fit.
12/20/2018 01:22:20 pm
Thank you for sharing this interview. I would love to be entered in your drawing. I cannot think of a better Christmas gift to receive!
12/20/2018 02:02:38 pm
What a lovely Xmas giveaway. Who wouldn’t want a critique under the tree. Loved learning about your amazing agent and your generosity.
12/20/2018 02:30:50 pm
It sounds like you and Adria are a great match. I hope to win a PB critique this Christmas!
12/20/2018 04:35:23 pm
Thank you for sharing this interview. I would love to be included in the drawing for a free critique. Sounds like so much fun. Merry Christmas to you and Adria!
12/20/2018 06:53:59 pm
Great interview! Thanks for sharing!
12/20/2018 07:25:53 pm
What a great interview with Adria, Tina, and thanks for offering a free critique. I would certainly appreciate your feedback if I win!
12/20/2018 08:00:44 pm
So happy you and Adria found each other. I’m excited to hear about your latest publication, Tina! And I see Adria and I have similar tastes in movies. ☺️ Merry Christmas to you both!
12/21/2018 04:05:33 am
Ooooh spooky books! Love that. Thanks for this fantastic interview and giveaway Tina! Would love to be entered to win the critique!
12/21/2018 10:51:20 am
Excellent interview! Happy agent-versary! Thanks, Tina for asking the questions and Adria, for taking the time to answer.
12/21/2018 10:25:34 pm
This was a lovely post thank you Tina. Merry Christmas and congratulations on your 2nd Agent-versary.
Leave a Reply.
Tina M. Cho, children's author
I'm a children's author and freelance writer for the educational market. Welcome!