Agent Spotlight: Brent Taylor
Nov. 4, 2016
Today we are excited to feature Brent Taylor, Associate Agent at Triada US. He is actively building his kidlit list.
Be sure to enter to win a GOLDEN QUERY PASS, to get to the head of his submission line.
Tell us about your background and how you came to agenting?
I started out as an intern at a literary agency in 2011. From 2011 to 2014 I interned for a variety of literary agents, observing every agent’s individual style and strengths. In 2014 I joined Triada US as a summer intern, and was then hired as an assistant, and a little over two years later I’m an associate agent and subsidiary rights manager.
What type of books are you looking for these days?
I have eclectic tastes across a very broad range of categories (from picture books to women’s fiction), but these days I’m focusing more on kidlit. I’ve just done my first two picture book deals and I’m very excited to grow my list of author-illustrators. I’ve sold a lot of middle grade, but I would love to find a terrific chapter book project—something fun and fresh with a dash of a STEM tie-in.
In middle grade and YA, my sweet spot is realistic fiction but I’m open to anything.
What type of agent would you say you are? What is your communication and working style?
In the words of my authors, I’m a hands-on, dedicated, passionate, and unceasingly optimistic agent. I like to be as communicative as possible with my authors; the best author-agent relationships for me are the ones that are collaborative, open, and fun.
I’m high-energy and creative, so I want to work with someone who’s enthusiastic and ready to conquer the world. Whenever I find an author whose energy and passion levels match mine, I find that I feed off that enthusiasm and it only makes me want to go out and do my absolute best for them and their work. I hope that my authors are able to feed off my energy in the same way.
What are some common mistakes you see in queries?
I’m really sad whenever I find a query with a terrific voice but no stakes. I always tell writers they should answer the following questions in their query letter: Who is your character? What do they want? What is standing in their way? What’s going to happen if they don’t get it?
What are the most common reasons you would turn down a manuscript?
I turn down a lot of terrific material just because I don’t feel that special spark. For me, offering representation is a huge commitment of my time and energy, so I can only offer when I just can’t imagine not working on the project and am willing to do whatever it takes to sign the author.
I’m most interested in building careers, not single books, so I’m more forgiving of plotting and pacing (which can be fixed) than I am voice and prose.
What excites you most in a manuscript?
A fantastic, fabulous, boisterous voice. Reading so much material can make you feel like you’re speed-dating characters, and when you find one who is uniquely themselves and with whom you instantly click, there’s nothing like it. When I started reading my author Whitney Gardner’s debut novel YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE, I loved the unlovable Julia from the very start. I’d never encountered a character like her before, and I just had to tag along for her journey.
I also felt this way when I received the submission of Eric Bell’s debut novel ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD. I am not one for bathroom humor at all, and there was a ton of bathroom humor on Eric’s first page alone, but Alan Cole’s voice felt so authentic and true-to-life that I couldn’t stop reading.
So, in short, it’s character that excites me most in a manuscript. I want to meet someone that I adore so much I’d follow them to the end of the earth.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I’m a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad driver. Maybe I’m just a clumsy kid at heart, but I’ve had my fair share of near-accidents.
What is the best way to query you?
Authors can query me by sending their query letter and the first ten pages of their project pasted in the body of the email to brent [at] triadaus [dot] com. Put “Query” in the subject line. I try to respond to all queries in a few days and all requested material within a few months.
Brent Taylor is an associate agent at Triada US. He represents upmarket fiction across a broad range of categories: picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, graphic novels for kids and teens, crime fiction, women’s fiction, and coming-of-age literary fiction. You can find him on Twitter @NaughtyBrent.