By Christine Liu-Perkins
One of us recently became an agent in addition to being an author! Lisa Amstutz joined Storm Literary Agency, which represents children's authors and illustrators. Let's find out more about her new adventure.
Why did you decide to become a literary agent?
The idea sort of grew on me the past couple years after some conversations with Vicki Selvaggio at Storm Literary Agency. Along with writing, I’d been editing professionally for about eight years, working with both publishers and individual writers, and realized that my favorite parts of that job—helping manuscripts shine and writers succeed—were a big part of what an agent does. I went through training with Storm last year, and that experience confirmed my interest.
How does your experience as an author influence your approach as an agent?
Well, first of all, I know exactly how it feels to be in the querying trenches! I bring the knowledge I’ve gained from 15+ years studying the writing craft as well as my editorial experience to help my clients polish their work before it goes out on submission. I will also be building on the industry connections I made as an author, editor, and ARA of SCBWI: Ohio North.
Are there specific topics that interest you?
I’m not a good fit for anything dark, dystopian, or graphic. I love stories that help people connect with nature, promote sustainability, bring important bits of history to light, introduce kids to different cultures, and celebrate kindness, beauty, and truth.
What are you looking for in nonfiction projects?
I’m looking for writing that connects strongly with its target audience, whether that’s kids or adults. I love humor, lyricism, and heart, as well as stories that make me see something in a new way.
What do you want to see in a nonfiction proposal?
Pretty much the standard proposal format – include a synopsis, outline, sample chapters, comps, marketing opportunities, bio, etc. Basically, sell me on this book!
What qualities are you looking for in a client?
I’m looking for serious writers who want to build a writing career or are already established. I prefer to work with people who are professional and positive—no drama, please.
What advice can you give to people who want to break into the nonfiction market?
Study the market and figure out what’s selling right now. Today’s nonfiction is very different from the nonfiction most of us grew up with! Look for a “hook” of some kind that makes it more than a mere listing of facts. Make sure your text is 100% accurate, but told in a compelling way. Use techniques such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, lyricism, humor, etc. to make your story sing.
It can also be helpful to align your content with Common Core or NGS Standards, as many NF publishers target schools and libraries.
For many more tips, don’t miss NF Fest this month!
My bio and submission guidelines are at https://www.stormliteraryagency.com/aboutus. I’m currently closed to submissions except from conference attendees, but do hope to reopen later this year. For updates, follow me on Twitter: @LJAmstutz.
We are nonfiction authors who support readers and writers through our writing, author visits, and workshops.
The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas and a strong belief in The First Amendment. The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.