Agent Spotlight: Tricia Skinner Interview and Query Critique Giveaway
Today I’m thrilled to have agent Tricia Skinner here. She is a literary agent at .
Hi Tricia! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.
I had what I consider to be a rather normal change in careers. In 2015, I was laid off from a job in academia and instead of immediately seeking employment within the same field, I spoke to my literary agent Laurie McLean about what I wanted to do next. The business side of publishing had always interested me, and Laurie supported my decision to become an agent. She trained me, supporting my move into an industry I had only seen from the point of view of an author. With her mentorship, I’ve built my client list in genres I love. I’m living my dream job, helping other authors enter and thrive in publishing. It’s a very satisfying role for me.
About the Agency:
[/b]2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.
I think the underlying organization of most literary agencies is the same. All have agents who each have areas of specialization. We all have an internal or external person or agency handling subrights, contracts, marketing, etc. What Fuse offers on top of the expected benefits of working with an agency is a sharper personalized approach. We’re a small agency that is hands-on with our clients. We don’t run like the bottom line is all that counts. Each client is cared for based on what their career path requires; we don’t force them in the same box and expect them to create the same, produce the same, be the same. We recognize our clients as people who have various routes in their publishing careers.
What She’s Looking For:
[/b]3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?
My root area is adult genre fiction. I’m selectively adding MG to my list, and to a lesser degree YA. My focus is science fiction, fantasy, romance, and horror. I can separate those into subgenres, but that would take too much space to list! It’s necessary to point out that editor tastes change and I have to be aware of what they want and don’t want. That’s why I seek writers based on their skill at storytelling. I’m constantly seeking extraordinary books because those can withstand market fluctuations the best.
4. Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
I’m more interested in who is creating the story. I’ve always encouraged writers from marginalized communities to query me because there are so many untold stories they can share. I want to explore different experiences and see a different point of view in genres I love.
What She Isn’t Looking For:
[/b]5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?
I don’t represent faith-based/religious manuscripts, short story collections, screenplays, poetry, picture books, chapter books, erotica, novellas, or non-fiction. I won’t consider previously published or self-published books because they’re nearly impossible to sell unless they’re a blockbuster.
[/b]6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?
We have the same goal, which is to build and grow a successful publishing career. I signed them because they have extraordinary writing skills, but I also believe we’re suited on a personality level. I don’t sign people for one book. I sign them for what I believe will be a long, productive, positive business partnership. The lovely side effect to this has been the creation of new friendships with people who create stories I adore and who are amazing human beings.
[/b]7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?
Each client is different but, overall, any of them can expect me to be available to brainstorm ideas, help outline their story points, read their manuscript and provide detailed feedback and suggestions, conceptualize series, offer insight on the industry and where their story fits, and more. I’ll be as hand-on or hands-off during the process as they wish.
Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)
8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?
There’s only one preferred method -. The submission portal keeps queries organized. I never read queries sent to me through any other medium. When I receive a query through my direct email or social media, I just delete it. As for the query letter, there are plenty of free online resources that detail exactly how to write one, what to include, how to structure it. My online submission form asks for specific information and leaves a spot to include a synopsis (not required) and the first 20 pages.
9. Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?
I ask to see the first 20 pages of the manuscript without the prologue. Sadly, some writers ignore this and send the prologue, which is a waste when I will not read it. I don’t care what the prologue reveals. If the story won’t hook me from chapter one, there’s a problem.
[/b]10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?
I wish I could say I send a response within a week but that’s impossible. I read queries and manuscripts when I am not focused on my clients work. Clients are my top priority. I also can’t tell the future. In 2020, I had no idea COVID-19 would happen, or that my mother would die, or that I’d have major back surgery with a long recovery, or that I’d end up homeschooling my kid. My query and manuscript response time for 2020 was horrible. I still have a few responses to send. I can only apologize to those authors and do better in 2021.
Self-Published and Small Press Authors:
[/b]11. Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?
I love authors. I don’t care what path brought them to me! If you look at my current client list, you’ll see authors who’ve self-published or wrote for small presses. Editors want never-before-published manuscripts. If you are a self-published writer who wants an agent, send the agent an unpublished manuscript. An agent is going to focus on selling your work to a traditional house (Big 4) first.
[/b]12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?
Agents will always adjust as publishing changes. There are so many options for great books. Streaming services, app-based reading, augmented reality, graphic novels, comic books, and foreign markets. I see agents as always being flexible because we see changes and shifts all the time. We anticipate many and help our clients accordingly.
[/b]13. Who are some of the authors you represent?
My current client list can be found at . I’m continuing to build my list so expect that page to grow!
Interviews and Guest Posts:
14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.
A recent interview:
Links and Contact Info:
15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.
My personal agent site: . Please view the MSWL page for submission information.
My agency: . Please view my Team Fuse page for submission information.
My main social media: . No submissions or pitches accepted on any of my social media (or email).
16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?
Take the time to research the agents you’re interested in. Remember that any rejection received is for the manuscript and not personal. Look at the rejections you do receive for clues on what’s not working in the manuscript, then revise it to make it better/clearer/stronger.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Tricia.
Tricia is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through February 6th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at
Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.