Interview With Agent Nalini Akolekar
from Spencerhill Associates.
Please welcome Nalini to our blog. She is here to give our readers a new perspective from the other side.
Please tell our readers about the agency you represent.
Spencerhill Associates is a small agency owned and run by Karen Solem. I started my publishing career back in the early 1980s as Karen’s assistant when she was the editorial director of Silhouette Books, so we have a long history together in the romance business. While Spencerhill specializes in women’s fiction and romance we do work with other genres too.
Describe the genre of the most recent release, and is the only genre you represent?
Several of my clients had books release in May. They could all be categorized as contemporary romance, but some were sweet, some sexy, and some very humorous. I represent all romance and women’s fiction subgenres, and I also work with mysteries and thrillers.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
I come from a family of voracious readers. I grew up surrounded by books, watching people read. However, learning disabilities made me a slow reader. At that time there was very little understanding of learning differences– rather than receiving help I was teased so I avoided reading. When I was in my late teens my cousin moved to New York to live with my family for several months while she established her career in publishing. She started bringing home romance novel that she had worked on. When I discovered them I became so absorbed that I started reading compulsively. All that practice cured my problem with slow reading and I’ve been addicted to romance ever since.
For authors or prospective authors: what influences your decision to read a submission: the query letter; synopsis; a snappy tweet; etc.
The query letter is important because often it is something in the letter that sparks my desire to look at the partial. It’s crazy but you need to try to highlight what makes your book standout from all the others and at the same time draw comparisons to the work of successful authors. Be sure to hit the important highlights in the query–what is the genre, how long is the book, is it part of a series, are you published? A lot of the time it is simply luck that one query catches my eye over another.
What is the biggest no no you see in submissions that makes you reject them?
I rarely read a submission when it is clear that the author never read our submission guidelines.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
The biggest selling book I have to date was rejected by a dozen editors. You have to be persistent and understand that publishing is a very slow industry. Continued work on the craft of writing is really important and can help take you to the next level. Also remember that publishing trends change constantly. Though a particular type of story is really hot today it may not be tomorrow. Publishing trends run in cycles, so if you keep working on what you love most the chances are good that the market will come around eventually and you may hit just right.
How can our readers find your query guidelines?
Writers can go to the agency home page at http://spencerhillassociates.com )
More about our Guest
Nalini Akolekar joined Spencerhill Associates after a lengthy editorial career and several years in advertising sales. Agenting has provided the perfect opportunity to combine her editorial instincts with her sales, marketing, and business experience.
Nalini currently represents several bestselling authors and has placed books with a wide range of publishers, from the Big Six to Amazon, Harlequin, indies, and e-first. Nalini specializes in romance and women’s fiction in the adult market, but she also loves a good thriller.
Submitted by Nancy Lee Badger, FF&P Blog Co-Chair