"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Indie Writer Lands An Agent

Suzanne Van Rooyen - talented Finnish based wordsmith and
Speculative Sci-Fi horror technician

About a month ago, I interviewed an up and coming writer from Finland, via South Africa, Her name is Suzanne Van Rooyen.

Original Suzanne Van Royen Wizard Interview

It was a fun interview to do and since then, Suzanne has become a friend of the Cauldron.

Two nights ago, she revealed to her fans that she has managed to meet and to attract a Literary Agent who is tasked to take her work to a traditional publisher.

Not missing a trick, I got on the Wizphone and asked if she wanted to talk to Wizardwatchers about it,  She kindly agreed. Many of us her in Wizardland have tipped her for big things and this is no surprise.

Suzanne is one of those classically trained writers for whom formal sentence construction, narrative, character, voice, syntax, grammar and the visual appeal of the written word is of paramount importance in the literary context and in an environment where such rigour no longer seems to matter, Suzanne deserves her success for her staunch defence of the craft.

Here's what she had to say to yours truly.

So, Suzanne. I understand you have some good news? 

I most certainly do! After a pretty intense journey, I'm thrilled to announce that I have signed with Jordy Albert of the New York Corvisiero Literary Agency. This certainly isn't the end of the journey by far, but it's a big step towards seeing my book on the shelves.

How did you get in contact? Did you hunt the agent down? How? What resource did you use? Did she find you? Were you recommended?

I used Querytracker and Agentquery - both fantastic websites that give you a list of agents by what they represent. I searched for an agent that not only represented my genre but one with whom I thought I would also have some common interests.

I also wanted to find a newer agent not too jaded by the industry nor entrenched in convention, someone who was growing their client list and who would possibly take a risk on a book that didn't quite conform to the norm. Queue Jordy Albert. I'd had my eye on Marisa Corvisiero for a while through various blogospheres and social networks, but when I checked out the other agents in that agency, there was just something about Jordy that appealed to me. I queried her directly as per her website submission guidelines as a member of the slushpile. She was one of about ten or twenty agents I queried back in April. Guess I did something right because I made it out of the slush :)

What work is your agent promoting? 

Daughter of the Nether, the manuscript I entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest earlier this year. 

My book ended up being a semi-finalist, in the top 50 for my category out of 5000 possible entrants. 

Whereabouts is she going to be hawking the manuscript? Europe? America? 

Right now we're still building a list of publishers and editors. I assume Jordy will tackle the American markets first but that certainly won't exclude European or even Australian publishers.

In the literary world, everything Scandinavian is hot right now. Do you think you've benefited from this? Riding the crime boom, is there a new wave of Scandinavian horror and Sci Fi? 

Indie Book currently on sale - potential
collectors item!

Haha, I really don't think so considering this particular story has nothing Scandinavian about it and is actually set in a post-apocalyptic America.

My work in progress however, is set in Finland and draws from Norse mythology so perhaps I'll benefit from this apparent boom with my next book.

What is this going to mean to you as a writer? 

Finding someone in the industry who is as passionate about my story and characters as I am is huge validation for me as a writer. I can be rather self-deprecating so having an agent really boosts my levels of self-confidence, and confidence in my writing. As far as a writing career goes, this is really just the first step (and one of the hardest for many writers) towards that dream of being published and seeing my book in my local store. For me personally, this also means being able to justify dedicating so much of my time to writing fiction ;)

Is this the end of Suzanne Van Rooyen as an Indie for the time being? How do you feel about that? Has it changed the way you view yourself? 

This certainly isn't the end of me as an indie. I may write books in the future that aren't a good match for traditional Big Six type publishers, which would be better placed with an indie.

There are pros and cons of both indie and traditional publishing but I want to at least try my hand at both while still figuring out my career trajectory. There's also something super special about being able to see your book, your name, on a bookshelf which sadly, most indies just can't offer.

So far as how I view myself: I'm a writer regardless of who publishes me. While my self-confidence got a major boost by signing, I'm totally realistic about the market and what it's going to take to sell my manuscript in the current publishing climate, and just look at all those amazing books my manuscript is going to be in competition with! While I certainly feel less guilty now about not working full time and spending so much time 'away with the faeries' in my fictional worlds, nothing much else has changed. I'm still new to this, still learning, and have a long, hard haul ahead of me.

A relaxed and frosty Suzanne

For budding writers and Indies out there, what advice would you give about tracking down an agent? 

Network. Join Twitter, read blogs, follow Querytracker, get involved with online conferences like WriteOnCon (happening right now) and keep a look out for the type of agent you want (personality counts more than what genre they represent and what their recent sales have been).

When querying, follow the guidelines of the agency exactly. Be polite and understand that agents are people too, and that rejection is part of life, not just part of writing. 

Also, persevere and don't give up, but also be realistic about whether or not your book will sell. There's often a difference between a good book, and a book that will sell.

That's great advice, Suzanne. I'm sure people will take notice. Thanks for talking to us and I wish you all the best.

Thanks, Wiz!

(Suzanne can be contacted on links in her original interview with Green Wizard.)


  1. Congratulations Suzanne - I wish you the best of luck, and thank you for sharing the information.

  2. I really enjoyed this interview and I have looked at the links too that you mentioned. From one author to another ~~ Mahalo!


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