A familiar face is taking the spotlight today – agent Sean McCarthy of (you guessed it) the Sean McCarthy Literary Agency! If you were at our 2016 Pocono Retreat, you might have met Sean, and for a more in-depth interview, you can read his Cafe Chat with Lori Ann Palma here. Today, Sean is stopping by to give some stellar advice and let you know what he’s looking for…or not looking for…right now!
LB: What’s your best advice for crafting a strong pitch?
SM: I think the most important factor when crafting a strong pitch is to be absolutely positive about the strengths of your work, and to build around them. When I’m writing them for myself, I try to think about the best possible way I could convince someone that’s skeptical of the manuscript that they need to read it, and to keep it as succinct as possible. I’m also a big believer in getting feedback from the market on pitches, so if you’re not sure what are the most compelling elements to your work, it can be helpful to create two different pitches, send both out to a limited number of agents (e.g. Pitch A to 5 agents, Pitch B to 5 different agents), and see which one gets a better response.
LB: What are you looking for/not looking for right now?
SM: I have some general guidelines on my website for my interests:
“He is drawn to flawed, multifaceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and character-driven work or smartly paced mysteries/adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in issue-driven stories or query letters that pose too many questions.”
Also, I have participated in MSWL a few times (http://mswishlist.com/profile/literary-agent/mccarthylit), but….
The longer that I work in publishing, the more I’m looking for something that immediately demands my attention and keeps me hooked until the last page. Strong characters, unforgettable voice, and a dynamic narrative arc will draw me in, no matter the genre.
LB: Are you open to representing picture book authors and/or illustrators?
SM: I am open to representing picture book authors, illustrators, and author/illustrators!
Thanks for stopping by, Sean! See you soon!