An Interview with Literary Agent Leon Husock

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Leon Husock is an associate agent at L. Perkins Literary Agency and is actively building his client list. He has a BA in Literature from Bard College and attended the Columbia Publishing Course.

Blue Skirt Productions recently had the opportunity recently to ask Leon some important questions to determine what type of dragon he is:

 

 

BSP: Do you prefer playing in the mud, sand, or water?

LH: Water, I think. 

BSP: Do you prefer forests, arctic tundra, or tropical islands?

LH: Forests, hands down. 

BSP: Which element would you most like to control: earth, wind, fire, or water?

LH: Wind.

BSP: Based on these answers, our ten-year-old in-house dragon expert has determined that Leon is a Sky Wing dragon, as pictured:

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BSP: After establishing his dragon-type, we asked Leon some literary agenting questions:

BSP: Favorite book(s) of all time?

LH: The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings switch off between 1st and 2nd place, and then Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell occupies a solid 3rd. 

BSP: What is your dream manuscript?

LH: Hmm. I really like original entries in genres, stuff with a premise I flat-out haven’t seen before, especially when it’s playing with pre-existing tropes. I think my dream manuscript is fantasy, though probably not epic fantasy, with a really interesting, unusual premise/variety of magic and a strong main character that the reader really comes to understand personally. I like to really get a feel for a main character, which I think naturally draws me to YA because you tend to get much more emotionally vibrant protagonists. Teenagers are many things, but reserved isn’t usually one of them. 

BSP: What sort of things make you instantly reject a manuscript?

LH: A huge exposition dump at the beginning will usually do it. Really inorganic, stilted dialogue to the point that it’s just painful (and in general, other facets of just really poor quality writing). That said, I’m willing to give bad writing a temporary pass if the plot really grabs me from the get go. 

BSP: What sort of things make you fall in love with a manuscript?

LH: Pretty much the same stuff as in my dream manuscript. Clever, original premises and strong, likable main characters. 

BSP: What made you decide to become an agent?

LH: It was sort of a toss-up between editor and agent for me. I knew either way I really wanted to work with authors, and the more I learned about agenting the more I felt like the kind of editing I wanted to do, the big, broad-strokes changes, was being done by agents these days. 

BSP: What sort of books are you looking to represent?

LH: Genre fiction of most kinds. I’m very high on noir right now, but in general I like fantasy, sci-fi, particularly of the YA variety but also general stuff; historical fiction provided it’s done well (don’t get me started on cartoonishly exaggerated historical dialects). 

BSP: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen authors make when querying?

LH: I’ve seen a million terrible queries. The biggest mistakes are probably just when people ramble on about anything that’s not their book. I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but in the context of a query I don’t care about your life, or why you wrote the book, or how it’s really about your childhood dog or whatever. Give me a cold open. Throw me right into the book. A good query should read a lot like jacket copy (the bit of writing on a book jacket that tells you about the book). The purpose is essentially the same: they tell you just enough about the book to get you interested in reading it. 

BSP: Do you have any advice for writers seeking representation?

LH: Really, most of my advice is in the question above about queries. Your query is your best weapon in the quest for representation. There are no tricks to getting an agent interested in a book. Oh, but I will say when you’re giving a short sample (I ask for the first 5 pages in the body of the email) cut the prologue. Get me right into the main story. Maybe a prologue is important in the grand scheme of the book (though the odds are your book will be better without it), it isn’t where the action is, and more importantly it’s not where the main character is, and that’s who I want to meet. 

Click here to learn more about Leon and L. Perkins Agency.  Leon can be queried via email with a query letter and first five pages in the body of the message.

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