Thursday, June 18, 2015

3 Agent Moe Ferrara of BookEnds on Query Pet Peeves, Being a Geek, and Love Vs. Marketability

Becoming a literary agent was fitting for the girl who, as a small child, begged her dad to buy her a book simply because "it has a hard cover." Growing up, she had a hard time finding YA books outside of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine, and instead tackled Tom Clancy or her mom's romance novels. Though her career path zigzagged a bit—she attended college as a music major, earned a JD from Pace Law School, then worked various jobs throughout the publishing industry—Moe was thrilled to join the BookEnds team in May of 2015 as a literary agent and the subsidiary rights director.
A Pennsylvania native, she is the proud owner of one rambunctious guinea pig who is a master at stealing extra treats. When not reading, she is an avid gamer and always awaiting the next Assassin's Creed release.
You can contact Moe directly at or follow her on Twitter
*Moe is open to YA submissions. She's especially looking for SciFi and Fantasy, but will consider the right contemporary YA. 

1. What are some of the worst things you've seen in a query?

Thankfully, everyone is being very mindful of my submission requirements and the genres I’m looking for! I think my biggest pet peeves are those queries that come in that either a, aren’t following submission requirements or b, are for genres I don’t represent. Not paying attention to those two things mean that authors are just blindly sending out queries without researching. I was a querying author once upon a time. I know how nerve-wracking it can be. But I always made sure I followed requirements and, when I could, personalized the queries. The other thing that I’m finding are a pet peeve… rhetorical questions. Because guess what, I don’t think I’m going to answer them the way you want me to answer them!

2. Are you an editorial agent?

Most definitely. As I said in another interview recently, if you want the agent who can tell you where a comma goes or to take out a semi-colon, I’m not the agent for you. I’m much more into big picture things — what most people would call a developmental editor. I watch for plot, for characters, the overarching issues. I’m great for brainstorming and for figuring out how to make a stuck plot point work. I’ve always been the person my friends come to when they couldn’t figure their way around a plot! So that’s what I bring to the table. I’m hands-on and wanting to work with my clients to have the best possible and super-shiny manuscript!

3. Character, world, or plot?

Combination of character and plot. I love character-driven things, but I want the plot to be just as strong as the character. World-building is important on that list (especially when considering I love SciFi and Fantasy) — but I’m not expecting you to come up with six different languages in your fantasy world or have a map that looks like something out of <i>Game of Thrones</i>. Know your world, but characters and plot are what’s going to draw me in first.

4. What do you like to do for fun?

I am a HUGE geek. So when not doing agenty things, I’m probably playing on my xbox, reading Marvel comics (yay Iron Man and Hulk!), working on my next cosplay, or playing my violin. I still make a point to play when I can, and my favorite thing to do is play along to show music. I grew up in a theatre as a pit rat. :^)

5. Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, or any other vices?

Coffee. Oh GOD do I have a coffee problem. First thing I do when I get up is shuffle to my keurig and wait the 20 seconds for it to heat up and brew my coffee. I at least can wait until 5:00 PM before cracking open a bottle of wine. My current faves are either the Apothic brand or Stark Raving brand. Both are relatively inexpensive, but very good. Y’know… if you’re old enough to be drinking. [insert very stern glare here]

6. Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability?

I think there’s a need for both. I want to feel connected to a book and I feel like you can pitch it better if it’s something you love and are passionate about. But you also need to have an idea for what’s hot right now and what editors are looking for. Even if you love the dystopian vampire novel — if editors aren’t looking for it, it’s going to be a near impossible sell. So I firmly believe in loving the works you represent, but it does have to be tempered with what’s currently marketable too!


  1. Excellent interview and Moe, I totally agree with you on coffee. It's #1 in the morning!

  2. Nice to meet you Moe! Hmmm, I hope coffee isn't a prerequisite to being a writer because I'm much more addicted to chocolate.

  3. She is a cool geek!
    How hard can it be to read submission guidelines, anyway?


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