Behind the Scenes with Fine Print Lit's Assistant and Intern


Today, I'm excited to introduce two of the women behind the scenes at FinePrint Lit--Meredith Barnes (assistant to Janet Reid) and Gemma Cooper (intern).  We really appreciate these two ladies joining us today because they are on the front lines of that infamous slush pile and have great insights to share.  Also, remember that two of the prizes offered in our epic contest this week (see link at the top of the page) are critiques from these ladies, so if you haven't entered yet--get on it!


What storylines/subjects are you so tired of seeing in queries?

Meredith: I think the usual answer here is “paranormal” or “vampires,” but I haven’t gotten fed up with anything—yet. Just write it well. For god’s sake, take your time. Don’t forget that it’s the character and his/her voice, not a particular paranormal ability or plotline that is going to make a good book.
Gemma:  I’ll never say that I’m tired of any storylines, because a good voice will sell me no matter what. However, I would advise people to spend more time researching how to format a query – look at excellent resources like Query Shark (LINK - ) and ensure you research the agents you are querying online (LINK TO FP website and NC website )

What gets you excited about a submission?
Meredith: A great voice in the query letter is what grabs me—and anyone else. I’m not narrowing my genre focus yet, since I’m culling the slush with an eye for several agents and because I haven’t decided where my list is going to focus yet. Plus I just love it all (specific recent focuses: thrillers and YA, literary stuff too). But feeling like I get to know the character that I’m going to potentially spend a lot of time with is key.
Gemma: No matter what the genre, an amazing voice will always excite me. Plus, I’m a total sucker for good YA Boy POV.

I'm assuming no one goes into this industry without a deep/love obsession fro books.  But when you're surrounded by books and submissions all day, do you still have time and desire to read for pleasure?  And if so, what's your go to genre or author?

Meredith: YES! I love reading, no matter what. Even work reading. It feels so sneaky I can’t stand it. When I read for pleasure, it’s as mixed a bag as it is when I read for work. My last three reads: Jeff Somers’ THE ELECTRIC CHURCH (Dystopian SciFi Thriller. With the badest badass evah), Sean Ferrell’s NUMB (Off-beat literary fiction. With a circus and Texas in it. And a deadpan narrator with dead nerves. It comes out next Tuesday!), and Josh Bazell’s BEAT THE REAPER (Thriller. With a hospital and the mob. And some recurring sharks.)
Gemma: I do have an obsession with books and of course still read of pleasure – nothing beats that feeling of cracking open a new book, even more so when you’ve been reading on the computer all week. My favorite genres are edgy/issue, any YA, urban fantasy, and quirky adult fiction. My go to authors are Jasper Fforde (who I met this year and completely fangirled over) and Robert Rankin. And my current obsession is making everyone I know read ‘When You Reach Me’ by Rebecca Stead and ‘Personal Demons’ by Lisa Desrochers.

You can find Gemma and Meredith on Twitter: @gemma_cooper and : @mer_barnes
Meredith also recommends: Suzie and Janet’s blog and also Judith Engracia’s (she’s a former FP intern who’s now an assistant at another agency):
Thanks to these ladies for all the information and don't miss the second half of this interview over at Julie's blog--where you can find out what exactly their jobs entail and maybe even a Janet Reid secret revealed.  :)

 And all week, remember if you've ALREADY entered the contest by filling out THIS ENTRY FORM and want a bonus entry, you can get one extra a day by tweeting and filling in the little bonus form below.