Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Alec Shane Interview

At long last...the interview with literary agent, Alec Shane!

The Horror Librarian: Why become a literary agent?

Alec Shane: I more or less stumbled into the job, to be honest; I didn’t even know that literary agents existed before I started cold calling publishing houses after a Google search for “book job.” But after conversing with a few editors, all of whom told me I had the personality of an agent (still not sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult), I ended up coming across the Writers House website. I walked in to interview for an internship, and I never left.

The Horror Librarian: What are you looking for right now and how do you prefer potential clients to query you?

Alec Shane: My submission guidelines and what I’m looking for (and not looking for) are up on my Publishers Marketplace page – so you can always go there. You can also follow me on Twitter at @alecdshane. All of my Tweets are publishing-related and touch on the submissions I’m getting or submissions I would like to get; I promise you will never be subjected to my political beliefs or what I just had for lunch or what I think about some TV show.

The Horror Librarian: Ha ha! Tell us about a project you've recently sold that you are excited about.

Alec Shane: I’m a big sports fan, and an even bigger Patriots fan – so I’m especially excited for From Darkness to Dynasty by Boston sportswriter and radio personality Jerry Thornton, due out this September. It’s a history of the first 40 years of the New England Patriots, back when they weren’t just bad…they were laughably bad. It’s funny, and insightful, and should serve as a reminder for everyone who hates the Patriots that they weren’t always good.

The Horror Librarian: As an industry professional, can you share what business skills you think an author needs to be successful?

Alec Shane: Knowing how to self-promote is getting more and more important by the day in this business, so an author who is willing to hit the bricks and put himself/herself out there is in better shape than an author who doesn’t. I’d also advise authors to know when it’s time to put a manuscript away and work on something else; I’ve met authors who have been trying to get the same project published for 10 years. And while it of course happens – I’m sure every author who has been shopping his/her book for 10 years knows exactly who else’s first book took 10 years to get published – usually it makes more sense to try working on something else and then circling back to that book down the line.

The Horror Librarian: One of your passions is to bring more boys to the world of books. Can you talk a little about how that affects the work you do? What books have you read recently fit that mold? 

Alec Shane: It makes my job significantly harder, I can say that. It’s a weird dynamic in that editors are SCREAMING for boy books, but are very reluctant to buy them. I don’t even want to think about all of the times I haven’t been able to sell a project because it was “too boy.” However, the big plus about boy books is that they almost always appeal to both genders, so when you get a hit, you have a much larger audience; girls will read boy books more readily than boys will read girl books (I’ll save my rant about that particular dynamic for another time). In terms of authors that do great work with boy-centric books: Don Calame, NP Newquist, Chris Lynch, Rick Riordan…and pretty much anything that comes up on is great.

The Horror Librarian: As the official agent of the Horror Writers Association, you've sold the upcoming Hallows Eve anthology to Doubleday. What excites you most about the horror genre?

Alec Shane: One thing that good horror does really well is scare you not by describing the biggest monsters or spookiest graveyards, but by creating characters you love and then forcing you to sit there, completely helpless, as horrible things happen to them. Nothing is more terrifying than when something bad happens to a loved one; when that something bad takes place at the hands of something that can’t be explained or shouldn’t exists, then it’s even more horrific. We’re always most afraid of the unknown, and when authors can play on that inherent fear while introducing us to people we genuinely care about…that’s when great horror is born.

The Horror Librarian: List five things that are on your work desk right now.  

Alec Shane: 1. An empty cup. 2. Galleys of my upcoming SEAL memoir THE LAST PUNISHER by Kevin Lacz (July 2016).  3. a series of checks I have to send out to authors. 4. A tube of chapstick, 5. Post-it notes with my illegible handwriting on them reminding me of the exactly eleventy billion things I have to do this week.

The Horror Librarian: Well, good luck getting them all done! Thanks for your time, Alec!

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