Ask the Pro: Literary Agent Adriana Dominguez Discuses Queries and More

Adriana Dominguez has nearly 15 years of experience in publishing, most recently serving as executive editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books before joining Full Circle Literary in 2009. She is interested in representing kids’ picture books, middle-grade novels, young adult novels, adult literary fiction, women’s fiction and historical fiction, in addition to the following nonfiction categories: multicultural, pop culture, how-to and women’s interest. For submission guidelines, visit fullcircleliterary.com/Submissions.htm.

WHAT DISTINGUISHES HER AGENCY: Full service. … We go beyond simply accepting a manuscript and attempting to sell it. In my case, I use my editorial skills to produce a manuscript that is polished and that I will be proud to present to publishers. Once a manuscript is sold, our agency continues to work with authors and publishers in the areas of marketing, publicity, sales and beyond.

SEEKING: I am a very visual person and an art lover, so on the children’s side, I am searching for a fantastic author/illustrator, or illustrator ready to take a leap into writing! For picture books, I am mostly seeking funny and/or character-driven stories, and multicultural books that take us into the next millennium. I enjoy reading well-written middle-grade novels immensely, and would love to get some for girls or boys that offer unique, strong and/or funny voices. For young adults, I seek literary, contemporary, multicultural and dystopian novels that place characters in unusual and/or thought-provoking situations. I am not looking for vampire stories, fantasy or science fiction. I am a stickler for strong plots, and just adore twists!

MOST QUERIES ARE … too long. My personal preference is a three- to four-paragraph query organized thusly: one short paragraph that tells me why the writer chose to go with me and/or our agency (I like it when folks do their homework); one or two paragraphs that succinctly describe the project and highlight its potential in the marketplace (again, homework!); and a final paragraph that tells me about the author’s background, education, credits and platform when applicable.

MOST MANUSCRIPTS ARE … never finished. How else would a former editor answer that question? By this, I mean that despite the fact that I work very hard with authors to produce a final manuscript to share with publishers, I always remind them that their editors will have their own visions for those manuscripts, and that it is very important that author and editor together develop the kind of partnership that will result in the best possible book both are able to produce.

ON SOCIAL MEDIA: I like it when an author is Internet savvy. The future of books is digital, so it is a good idea to begin to use that medium as much as possible for promotional purposes now, and to join the pioneers of this movement who are scheduling blog tours, updating websites and connecting with others in and out of the writing community via the Internet. Perhaps most importantly, I think that those online efforts don’t go unnoticed by publishers!

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