At long last...the interview with literary agent, Alec Shane!
Horror Librarian: Why
become a literary agent?
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.
Horror Librarian: What
are you looking for right now and how do you prefer potential clients to query
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.
Horror Librarian: Ha ha! Tell
us about a project you've recently sold that you are excited about.
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.
Horror Librarian: As
an industry professional, can you share what business skills you think an
author needs to be successful?
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.
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?
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 www.guysread.com
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
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
Horror Librarian: List
five things that are on your work desk right now.
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.
Horror Librarian: Well, good luck getting them all done! Thanks for your time, Alec!