Interview with Agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe
By Theresa Rizzo
Bio: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe is an agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation
My favorite would be REALLY tough to pick, but I guess I’d have to say either YA or adult urban fantasy. But I really, really like historical fiction too!
Answer: paranormal YA without a new twist and adult historicals about the Civil War. But that being said, I would look at either one of those types of stories if the writing is spectacular and the voice is captivating.
And you’re going to hate me for this answer, but I really want to see more submissions that are well-researched (as in, you’ve done your homework on what agents/editors are right for it) and polished. I can’t tell you how many things I get that I’m clearly not looking for, or read like a rough draft. Ugh.
Answer: I do accept email queries. And ONLY unagented material, hehe.
Answer: Two pages.
Answer: Unfortunately it doesn’t change the response time, but it definitely affects what I request. Because those writers have proven to take their craft and the submission process seriously (just by attending conferences and doing your research shows professionalism that not every writer has achieved yet), I will often look at work that I normally wouldn’t request in the slush pile. And I do try to give a more personal response, when I can.
Answer: All of those things, really. I want to know if you’ve won a contest as long as the contest is well-known in the industry. I always want to work with writers who are open-minded about revisions and cooperate during the submission process. I love to hear from members of RWA, SFWA, SCBWI, Backspace, etc—just another sign that you’re writing as more than just a hobby, that you take it seriously. It helps when they have at least some knowledge of the realities of the publishing industry. And I always, always want to work with writers who are ready to promote their book.
Answer: Just before submission time, when both me and my client go “Wow—I think it’s ready!” Revisions can sometimes take months and months, but in the end we just want the book to be as strong as it can be. When it gets to the point, I definitely sit back remember why I love my job.
Answer: Yes—when it’s clear that a writer hasn’t done their submission research.
Answer: caffeine and cheese!
Answer: go to New Zealand
Answer: “If you’re going through Hell…keep going.” Kind of applies to the writing process, right?