A Chat With Chelsea
Yesterday at the CNY Romance Writers meeting, we were treated to a chat with literary agent Chelsea Gilmore of the Maria Carvainis Agency. Chelsea presented an information-packed Q&A with our authors that ran the gambit from the world of self-publishing (no longer the stigma that it used to be) to the future of the industry (still unfolding, but we were assured that there will always be a place for good stories, and agents will always be there to promote us).
The first thing that struck me about Chelsea is her willingness to encourage a potential client. She opened the conversation by saying "We wouldn't be here without you." Chelsea firmly believes that her job wouldn't exist if it were not for writers, and she goes that extra mile to help her clients, whether it be career guidance, editorial feedback, or simply the knowledge that there's a cheerleader in their corner.
Love You, Love Your Writing ... And She Will Too
Chelsea told us that "ego" is important in the world of publishing. She likes it when her authors know their story is good. We need to love our work, she said, because that enthusiasm shows when we're pitching. (And there's no need to get intimidated by the pitch. Pick a few things that stand out in your book and talk about those! She wants to hear what excites you about your work.) She advised us that if an agent turns us down, that it may be a very good thing. After all, if your agent doesn't absolutely love your work, why would you want them to represent it?
Chelsea also shows a wonderfully supportive attitude toward the writers she doesn't sign. She is willing to work with an author whose story has potential, but isn't quite "there" yet. She will often provide some commentary on manuscripts she decides not to accept. If your manuscript isn't right for her, she's willing to explain why.
If she does sign you, she will champion your work as well as your artistic vision. If an editor asks for changes to your manuscript, she will help you ensure that those changes are for the better of your story (and your intent with it) before making them.
Looking For A Few Good Manuscripts
Chelsea looks for cleanly written stories with strong voices. Humor is a bonus! She likes new takes on old stories, and well-written characters are a must. She accepts the following genres: young adult, romance, women's fiction, literary fiction, mysteries (including cozies), commercial thrillers, pop culture, or historical fiction. She does not accept science fiction, children's picture books, or inspirationals.
Chelsea prefers paper submissions including a query letter (don't forget to include your word count), a two- to three-page synopsis, and either the first thirty pages or three chapters of your manuscript, whichever is longer. Previously published work is accepted, as long as the author has received his or her rights back. Submissions should be directed to:
Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.
Attn: Chelsea Gilmore
1270 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Thank you so much to Chelsea for coming to the CNY Romance Writers meeting and sharing your insight with us!