Friday, August 31, 2007

Panel: Meet the Agent


Tee C. Royal - Literary agent, Tamala Murray - Literary agent


Tee C. Royal said...

Hello all, and a special thanks to SORMAG for asking me to participate in this year's conference. I've attended in past years and am looking forward to answering your questions. I am Tee C. Royal, an avid reader and literary enthusiast approaching a decade of service to the African-American literary community, with a background in Project Management. I'm best known for my work with RAWSISTAZ, which supports and promotes African-American authors and their work. I've also written columns, served as a board member of several literary organizations, and acted as the webdiva for various literary and author sites. In 2006, I was listed in Literary Divas: The Top 100+ Most Admired African-American Women in Literature by Heather Covington. And, I am writing the foreward to Here's Our Child, Where's the Village, the second book in the Gumbo for the Soul series which will be released November 2007.

Though I am a fairly new literary agent, I look at it as an extension of the work I've already done...another avenue in which I can help get the word out about authors and their books. I am blessed to be able to represent the work of authors who write across the genres.

So, that's a bit about me. Feel free to post your questions and I'll be back through later in the day.

-Tee C. Royal

Bob Medak said...


Do you accept unpublished authors, and if so, what do you look for; before representing them?

Rae L. said...

Hi Tee! Great to have you here. What type of works tend to jump out at you when you're looking over potential manuscripts to represent?

And also, I love RAWSISTAZ and I notice you wear many hats in the industry. How do you manage to juggle everything and do so well in each venture?

Thanks in advance!

Rae Lindley

RhondaN said...

I am currently writing Christian women’s fiction (unpublished) but I have some suspense novels in me. Give us your opinion about branding and how an author could/should write in two genres when they feel the time is right?

RhondaN said...

Tell us about the day of a literary agent?

Dyanne said...

Good morning Tee,

Thank you for giving the info about launch parties. I used a D instead of a D when I attempted to thank you before.

I have a question for you as well.

Have you found a big change in you life and in the amount of friends you have since becoming an agent? Thanks Tee


Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. Royal! I've tried to join RAWSISTAZ many times, but can never catch it when there are openings.

Are you interested in authors who follow the current publishing trends or are you more interested in authors who write what they love to write, even if it's not the "trend of the day"? Especially if they have a unique voice?

Patricia W. said...

Hi Tee!

I do reviews for Fresh Fiction and SORMAG. How does your perspective on a given work change from hat to hat--as a reader, as an author, as
a reviewer, and as an agent?


Tee C. Royal said...

Thanks everyone for stopping through. I'll be answering these in batches.

Bob, I'm not currently accepting queries as I clear my backlog, but yes, I do accept queries from both unpublished and published authors. I look for a great story, one that moves me and a distinct voice. I'm also interested in what else an author has worked on, what other projects they may have complete, their writing style, goals and things of this nature.

Rae, thanks. The stories I like most are those which transcend time; stories which will be remembered in years to come. I also like a different spin on what may be an old story. As I already mentioned, voice is important to me too.

As far as managing it all, I don't sleep very much. :) Actually, since becoming an agent, I've slowed down my freelance work as I want to ensure I devote ample time to my clients. With RAWSISTAZ, I'm in the process of phasing myself out of some of the more labor intensive areas, like reviewing. I haven't found it too hard, though sometimes it does get pretty busy. Thankfully, my background as a Project Manager comes in handy.


Tee C. Royal said...

**Rhonda, it's important for an author to build their image, giving their reader some type of connection or reference to them, which is mostly something that makes them different or makes them stand out. For example, fans of L.A. Banks love her work and will easily say "The Vampire Huntress Series" when referring to her and her books (under that name) and you can feel her excitement for the genre when you talk to her and even when you read her books.

So yes, branding is very important. As you know, she also writes across the genres and I believe she started off with romance, writing as Leslie Esdaile. It seems easier to establish yourself in one genre, build an audience, and then branch into another. This allows you to bring those fans and then establish new ones under the other genre. Some will follow, others won't. It all depends on the genre and the reader's preference. So yes, I would encourage an author to write what they "feel" vs anything else. I think it's possible for an author to write across the genres, but would advise being really careful when one of these genres is Christian fiction. You want to ensure one genre and what you're writing doesn't "clash" with another.

To answer about my day, it varies from day to day, but a brief overview of what I do (in no particular order): Follow-up with editors regarding any open items, update clients on status of project(s), review contracts and notes (as necessary), review incoming submissions or queries, respond to email, research, research, research. (I spend a lot of time researching and reading industry magazines and ezines). I am not in New York, so to date, I haven't added in the additional agent/editor meetings or things of
this nature. And, some days, I spend a lot of time on editorial support in getting a client's work ready to submit. I'm also completing my training/apprenticeship, so right now my client list is very small. On various days of the week, I'll also have training sessions via teleconference with the home office. In upcoming weeks, I'll be transitioning things over to my own agency, so my current schedule will change some, to account for the additional administrative and accounting work. And, I'll also open submissions again, generating more queries. :)

**Dyanne, thanks so much, but I actually commented on literary events; someone else mentioned the launch parties. To answer your question, no I haven't
really noticed an increase in friends. Through RAWSISTAZ, I've always been available to assist authors in different capacities, so this is just another way.

However, I have noticed a big difference in how I respond to certain emails and requests. I can be supportive of every author in my role with RAWSISTAZ, but as an agent, I am more selective with what I want to represent. I do find that authors expect me to make exceptions for them because of my work with RAWSISTAZ, but there is a separation between the two. I've had to decline representation to authors I've known for years, but I must LOVE a project to offer representation and it must not need major work.

**Del, we open RAWSISTAZ on the 15th of June and December, so do check back with us! While I am aware that some genres may sell faster or may be the latest trend, I'm much more interested in authors who write what they love to write because it comes across in the writing. And, I LOVE unique voices.

**Patricia, I like this question because yes, it does change slightly. I'm not an author, so I'll address the other areas. As a reader, I will tolerate more than I do as a reviewer. And, as a reviewer, I will tolerate more than I do as an agent. While I may have the same opinions on a book as a reader and reviewer, I do a bit more as a reviewer in that I'm hoping to offer constructive criticism which may be useful to the author for future books. On a scale of 1 to 5, I may only give 4-5 top ratings (5) a year. These are books pretty close to perfect that I would probably read again, given the time. As an agent, I am only interested in books I would rate on the high scale, which have minor (or no) issues editorially. The major difference is if the query interests me and if so how much of the actual book I'll read. As a reviewer, there aren't many books I haven't finished. As an agent, it doesn't take more than about 10-20 pages for me to know whether or not I love the story.

I think that's it! Thank you all once again. I'll be back through in a few hours for any additional questions.


Criss said...

How has your time as a reviewer and being involved in other literary endeavors helped in developing you as an agent? Or has it?

Rose said...

Tee has it been difficult for you to break into the industry as a new agent or do you feel your experience as a reviewer and founder of Rawsistaz gives you an extra level of respect and publishers are more open to listen to you about signing an author, because of your experience?

Tee C. Royal said...

Criss, I think it's helped tremendously because I've built relationships with editors who I'll also work with as an agent. So most of them in the areas I'm interested in representing will have heard of me, or at least of RAWSISTAZ, giving them a point of reference.

I've also attended many conferences, often getting the latest news in what editors are looking for, what's hot, etc. It also helps that I know what's out there and what the various publishing companies are publishing.

In addition, it has helped me identify what I like and don't like in books and how to voice that in a way that will help the writer.


Tee C. Royal said...

Hi Rose. So far I haven't found it necessarily "hard" per se, but instead something new. I am finishing my training, so I haven't submitted hundreds of books, but my experience so far has been positive.

I do hope (and think) my previous years spent in the industry will help make the transition easier.


Dyanne said...


I hope everyone that's attending the conference stops in here. This workshop is invaluable. I will be quoting you later. LOL. But I'll give you the credit.

rhondajjoseph said...

Hi, Tee:

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions today. You are such a firecracker! I wish you continued success in all your endeavors.

I have a couple of questions to add to the list:

1. If a self-published author submits a query to you to solicit your representation, do you want to know anything about the self-published works if the query is not for any of them?

2. How do you feel as an agent about writers writing for different houses at the same time?

3. As an agent, how do you feel about representing authors who plan to continue to publish their own works in certain instances, and/or the works of other writers?

4. Do you work with your clients on long term career planning?

Thanks, again!

Tee C. Royal said...

LOL Dyanne, I love your enthusiasm. I hope folks will stop by too. Maybe not everyone though or I'll never get any work done today. :)

Hi there Rhonda and thanks for your well wishes. Right back at'cha! Now, for the questions:
1. It really depends on the author, but in most cases, yes I'd like to know about their previous or planned self-published works. It's good to know an author's history as it can help with selling a new project. I can also get a feel for their audience, etc.
2. Whether or not an author can write for multiple houses at the same time also depends on the author. Some are prolific and have a body of work completed which may suit that of different publishers, and have the ability to do both successfully. And, if this is the case, the contract negotiations and the actual wording in the contract are VERY important as some houses don't want authors writing for others at the same time.
3. I haven't experienced this yet, but I do have an offer of representation out to an author who has her own publishing company. In talking with her, I don't believe there will be a conflict. As long as the agent is always aware of the full extent of what the author plans to do, it is workable. However, it's also important that nothing is done to jeopardize the author's contract with their publishing company. So, this is one to be handled case-by-case. Open communication is very important in the author-agent relationship.

I know I've received several books, which were later pulled and the author self-published them. Not that this is a problem, but I would advise an author NOT to send a book to an agent if they aren't sure they want representation. It's frustrating and time wasted on both ends.
4. Yes, upon signing on, authors fill out a questionnaire and we discuss short term and long term career plans. Most of this is ongoing and I will revisit it as the need arises or the client requests. I plan to rely heavily on my project management skills in this area, as it's important to have a timeline for goals to evaluate progress.


Tamela Hancock Murray said...

From Tamela Hancock Murray

I appreciate the opportunity to participate as well. I am new to online conferences and didn't realize I should have logged on early this morning to introduce myself. I am with Hartline Literary Agency and specialize in the CBA market. I represent writers of both fiction and nonfiction.

To find out more, please visit my web site at:

I should be able to check back a little later to answer questions.

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Hi Tee and Tamela,
As an agent, do you respond to every query letter you receive, even if you aren't interested in the working with the author? What is the normal response time that an author should wait before getting a response? Should an author followup with an agent if they haven't gotten a response in say 3 months or more? Glad to see you guys participating in the Sormag forum. Because of personal things going on, I totally forgot about the conference this year, so Tee, thanks for the post in RAW4ALL. This was my reminder.

Karen said...

Hi, Tee
Thanks for the information. My question is what is the correct procedure for a writer to follow when soliciting for an agent?

Tee C. Royal said...

Hi Tamala, welcome! Glad you made it in.

Vanessa, glad you made it over. I do respond to every query, no matter how long it takes me. The response time varies per agency or agent, but yes, I'd recommend following up after the time they indicate on their site has lapsed. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a while, but I do let authors know it's best to do simultaneous queries. I have never requsted an exclusive, so it's in the interest of the author to reach out to more than one agent. Your goal is to get the best fit for an agent, since this is a very important relationship in your literary career.

I would advise not badgering an agent week after week after week though. One author demanded I reply by x-amount of time. I did...with a rejection. While I liked what I had read, the personality would have clashed with mine, so it wasn't a good fit. Though I may try to get to something in an estimated amount of time, sometimes it just doesn't happen. My clients take priority and I even stopped taking submissions earlier this year because of the backlog of queries and submissions. My plan is to clear that prior to opening up submissions again. This way I'm not getting further and further behind and authors aren't kept waiting too long. (And, when I open back up submissions, it'll be under my own company, so I'm excited about that.)

Karen, each agent is different, so do a bit of research to find out what their submission process is by visiting their websites. Some take email queries/submissions, while others only do snail mail. Some agents do both. I've invested in a Sony Reader and foresee most of my future submissions come via email. Some request just the query, while others ask for the synopsis and a chapter or two. The key is to follow directions; especially in the case of attachments. Be professional too. And, please don't use form letters with things that are not accurate for that agent. (And get the agent's name and sex right.) LOL, funny huh? Someone called me MR once. Someone else spelled my name right. Now, had they used my actual name, maybe I can see it, but TEE is pretty simple. :::grinning:::

Hopefully this helps! Thanks again for stopping through.


LaShaunda said...

Tee and Tamela,

Thank you so much for participating in the conference. I had a family emergency and I wasn't able to participate today.

Looks like you shared some valuable information. Thank you so much for your time.

Treasures Antique Store said...

HI, I may be way late to post this -- if I'm not, I'd like to ask -- if someone submits to you and you turn the book down, would you still consider something from that author at a later date? A different book?

Tee said...

Treasures, yes, I would still consider something else from that author. If I really liked the premise of a story, but it needed work, I'd look at it after revisions were made. I'd also look at another book. (Submissions would have to be open in both cases.)

Continued blessings to everyone...

Lashaunda, thanks for having me! I hope everything is okay with the family.


Tamela said...

This has been a great discussion. Thanks for having me as well. Tee, you provided some great information.

As to whether or not I respond to every query, I do my best. Occasionally a query will fall through the cracks, but that is often because email will get lost. If you don't hear anything from me, ask again.


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