Thursday, May 26, 2011

with Hartline Agent Diana Flegal

The Barn Door Book Loft. Free Books! Book Giveaways.

It's Hartline week here at The Book Loft! All of this week's books were contracted by Hartline Literary. Enjoy!

Diana Flegal lives in Pittsburgh, Pa where she works as Editorial Assistant to Joyce Hart and is one of Hartline's agents. Diana is seeking to add both established and promising authors to her list of clients. Hartline Literary Agency represents fiction and non-fiction books to leading mainline and inspirational publishers. Diana represents fiction of all genres, but is not interested in titles that would conflict with the Christian Worldview. In fiction, she is currently looking for Women’s fiction and formula romance titles. She will entertain YA Fantasy titles, but only if they are of outstanding quality. Non-fiction titles written by authors with well established platforms are always considered.

Welcome to the Book Loft,Diana! It's so good to have you with us today.
Tell us, what led you to Hartline Literary?
Joyce Hart and I attend the same book club. When she mentioned her office assistant was leaving (having a baby) I decided to ask her if I could apply for the vacancy. I did and I have been her Editorial Assistant coming up on 6 years and have been agenting since middle of 2007.

How did your past prepare you for what you currently do?
I am a voracious reader and have supported the publishing industry financially for many years by purchasing books to read and give as gifts to others. When I was small, hidden under the covers late into the night reading a book with a flashlight, my father would bellow- “Put that book away and get to sleep! You have to get up for school tomorrow”. I just knew some day I was going to be surrounded by books and read far into the night as often as I could. Well, I am now surrounded by books and do read late into the night the manuscripts of my authors. A dream come true. I might not have a journalism degree but I can recognize good writing when I see it thanks to years of voracious reading. I am an encourager by nature and further developed my people skills on the mission field (Haiti) and have been able to put them to good use in this present job.

Do you have a certain genre or even writing style you like to represent or a sweet spot in the industry that you find yourself returning to?
I love a strong woman’s fiction title and lean toward nonfiction in my personal reading, but a well written romance, literary piece or fantasy can capture me as well. Strong writing gets me every time.

What is it in a story that catches your attention?
Strong characters facing realistic adversity and coming out on top.

Are there things you do NOT want to see? How about things you're looking for?
I am full up on Sci Fi, Bible Studies and devotionals. I stay away from Childrens books unless one of the authors I represent has one to offer.

I am looking for formulaic romance and womens fiction as well as a well written suspense. I also like to see unique Christian Living titles.

What's your least favorite and most favorite part of being an agent?
I dislike rejections and not finding a publisher for a title that I strongly believe is a worthy read.
My favorite part is getting to hang out with such creative and gifted individuals, authors and editors alike. And I love seeing a contract offer pop up in my email box, being able to pick up the phone and inform an author we have a potential sale.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. What do you see as one of your strengths as an agent?
I hang in there even when others might quit or give up on an author. If I believe in an author I will continue to look for open doors.

Tell us about the process of how you choose authors to represent.
First I must like their writing voice. Each agent has their own individual taste. For nonfiction, it helps me when I can be passionate about the subject matter, but even then, they must have an aggressive platform and be already networking re: FB, website and blog, and Twitter. In the case of fiction, the story must draw me in and be difficult to put down as well as maintain solid pacing. The authors I represent all write in a way that drew my interest one way or the other. I tend to collect out of the box titles. Not the general norm. Unfortunately, most of those types do not fit into any given Genre, so I have had to learn to be more discrete in what I now acquire, choosing more ‘normal’ gifted authors, titles I have a great chance of selling.

Do you have some words for unagented writers? Pointers, tips, encouragement—anything that might help them along their way or make them more appealing to agents.
One of the first things I do if I have some interest in an author’s submission is to ‘Google’ them. I want to see if they have an online presence. A non-fiction writer must develop a platform, have already set up a website, be blogging about their subject and be networking through Facebook and Twitter. They should garner speaking engagements, etc. all BEFORE approaching an agent. Too often a very well written and timely title is shot down solely because of the authors’ lack of platform. With the economy in its present state, the publisher needs to feel the author is invested in promoting their title in a way that can minimize their financial risk. If the author is not comfortable with speaking they should consider joining organizations like C.L.A.S.S..

Diana, as a missionary kid, missions is near-and-dear to my heart. How did missions influence your life?
Growing up, our small church had a constant flow of guest missionaries from all spots of globe. I was fascinated by God’s creative diversity in the different people groups. This eclectic mix gave me an appreciation for all genres of writing. I like ‘out of the box’ books, written in unique voices, and gravitate to things outside the ‘norm’ but that remain biblically sound.

You can purchase A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication here.

To be entered in the book drawing for A Writer's Survival Guide to Publication, leave a comment on any and all of the Spot on PEAs posts this week. Winner will be announced on June 15th.

If you have trouble leaving a comment, you can email your comment to me at Patty {at} PattyWysong {dot}com.


Caroline said...

I've loved reading the Hartline posts this week! Thanks for having them, Barn Loft participants & Patty.

They are great agents--gentlemen & women, talented and smart, & have some fantastic writers. Lynette & Lena are two of my favs. :)


Kathryn Page Camp said...

Platform, platform, platform. (Sigh.) I understand why the emphasis is there, but I wish I could spend more time on writing and less on trying to market myself. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I'd really like to win
this book!

Meredith said...

Couldn't "out-of-the-box" be a genre? Great post!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Diana said...

I agree Meredith. New Genre- 'Out of the Box' Wouldn't that make a great publisher name?
Out of the Box Publishing, but it might bring a lot of crazy stuff out of the woodwork. I guess I will continue to work in the parameters I am working within :-)
Happy Memorial Day weekend ya all. Thank you Patty for having us here on your great blog this week!

Judy B said...

This interview made me smile :) Please enter me. Thanks!

Judy B

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