Reminder: New literary agents (with this spotlight featuring Paul Stevens of Donald Maass Literary Agency) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.
About Paul: Paul Stevens joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2016. He has worked as an editor for 15 years, primarily at Tor Books, where he edited science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. Paul has worked with authors such as Alex Bledsoe (The Hum and the Shiver), Marie Brennan (A Natural History of Dragons), Robert Brockway (The Unnoticeables), Tobias S. Buckell (Crystal Rain), Adam Christopher (Made to Kill), Hilary Davidson (The Damage Done), David Edison (The Waking Engine), Michael Livingston (The Shards of Heaven), A. Lee Martinez (Gil’s All Fright Diner), and Patrick Taylor (An Irish Country Doctor). During his time at Tor he also managed Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive. Paul is an Ohio native and a graduate of the Ohio State University. He spent a year in Chile as a high school exchange student.
He is seeking: Paul is looking for science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, and humor (both fiction and nonfiction). He’s looking for strong stories with interesting characters. Well-rounded LGBT characters and characters of color are a plus.
Concerning Science Fiction and Fantasy: Paul would love to see stories that take tried-and-true genre tropes and turn them on their heads in an inventive way. Epic fantasy should stretch the boundaries and shake things up. For example, if your book is about a group of characters going on a quest, be sure you have an inventive take on the quest fantasy subgenre. Show us something that we’ve never seen before.
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Concerning Mystery and Suspense: Ideally your book should have an intriguing concept that makes the reader think, “Oh, that’s a cool idea.” Paul is interested in historical mysteries (set in both the past and the future), mysteries with a speculative element (ghosts, magic, monsters), and mysteries with an unusual setting. Again, strong, memorable characters are key.
Concerning Humor: Paul is interested in humorous fiction, nonfiction, and “other.” Humor is very subjective, but if he’s inspired to rush into a coworker’s office to show them a funny passage, that’s a very good sign. Humorous fiction: Think Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore, and A. Lee Martinez. Humorous nonfiction: Think David Sedaris. Humorous other: Think along the lines of The Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley, It’s Happy Bunny by Jim Benton, or Bent Objects by Terry Border.
Paul is not looking for poetry, memoirs, screenplays, picture books, or chapter books.
How to submit: Paul only accepts email queries. Please query at query.pstevens [at] maassagency.com. Include a cover letter and a synopsis pasted in the body of the email. (If your book has a twist at the end, please don’t reveal the twist in the synopsis. Paul needs to judge how well a twist works in the actual manuscript, and it’s better to read the ending cold without spoilers.) Please also include the first 5 pages of your manuscript pasted into the email. No attachments. For humor books that include images, please send a cover letter and synopsis pasted in the body of the email and attach one or two representative images. Please make sure that the image files are low resolution so the files are of reasonable size. Response times: Query letters – up to 3 weeks; Partial manuscripts – up to 6 weeks; Full manuscripts – up to 2 months.
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