3 Questions for agent Kristy Hunter

Posted May 31 2017, 7:56 am in , , , , , ,

I’ve mention this local conference several times and here I am mentioning it again. The NOLA Written in the Stars Writers Conference. At this year’s conference, I had the pleasure of meeting and pitching my novel to Kristy Hunter, submissions coordinator and associate agent at The Knight Agency.

Pitching, for those who don’t know, is when a shaky, unpublished author “pitches” their novel to an agent face to face in under ten minutes. It’s like speed dating with a baby. It’s highly uncomfortable (for all parties involved I think).

Thankfully, I’ve pitched to agents and editors before. My very first pitch happened eighteen years ago (yes eighteen!) when I pitched my first attempt at a novel to a staunchy old man in a windowless room in New York City. He’d read my first pages thanks to a creative writing class I was taking and promptly informed me my dialogue sounded like it came off a soap opera. Did I mention I was pregnant at the time? The only thing he asked for was for me to leave his office. Thankfully, I’ve had much more pleasant experiences since. Kristy being one of them

I didn’t feel my manuscript fell into Kristy’s wheelhouse, but I still wanted to have some face to face time with her. She’s sharp and kind and easy to talk to…and I think I may have terrified her when I sat down and said, “Listen, instead of pitching can I ask you three quick questions for my blog?” She blinked and laughed and answered, “Please email them to me. I hate to answer off the cuff. These things are crazy enough as it it.” So I ended up telling her about my book then using the rest of our time to visit about publishing in general. Later on, we enjoyed Mexican food and margaritas with a large group of writers, agents, and editors where we discussed everything from dogs to hobbies. No manuscript discussions. No pitching. Just fun. That’s the kind of opportunity a small pitch conference can offer.

As promised, Kristy very kindly answered my questions when I sent them to her. So here goes:

1) How “clean” does a submission need to be? Perfect grammar or would you let a few flubs slide? Would a great concept/voice override technical errors?

In short: very clean. Before sending out your query, you should always give yourself time to review it again with fresh eyes. That said, I realize we’re all human. Is a misplaced comma going to stop me from requesting a project that I’m DYING to see? Probably not. But you are making your first impression with your query letter. Make sure it’s a good one!

2) What would be an instant turn off in a query or submitted pages?

Not following our submission guidelines, typos and grammar errors are huge turn offs when I receive a query letter. I also hate when an author bashes a genre, author, or published work in an effort to explain just how strong their own project is.  Let your work speak for itself! There’s never a reason to put someone/something down in order to make yourself shine.

3) On the flip side, what would catch your attention right now? What gem would you love to find in your towering slush pile?

I’m really looking for projects that don’t feel familiar—something with a unique hook and a great voice. Being the submissions coordinator and an associate agent, I read tons of queries every single day. The hardest thing for me to find is a story that feels fresh. Do that and I’ll be hooked!

Kirsty worked in publishing for several years in New York City before returning to the South. She joined The Knight Agency in 2014. She is open to submissions from a wide variety of genres, including women’s fiction, mystery, historical romance, romance, young adult, and middle grade. You can find her on twitter at @KristySHunter and find her submission guidelines here

And the writing journey continues…

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One response to “3 Questions for agent Kristy Hunter”

  1. Thanks for posting! I really like this kind of inside information.

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