Thursday, August 13, 2015

3 Senior Agent Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary on What She Loves, Personalization, and Critique



Adriann Ranta is Senior Agent and Vice President at Wolf Literary Services. She represents New York Times bestselling, award-winning authors, journalists, illustrators and graphic novelists, as well as actors, stuntwomen, makeup artists, and many other pioneering creative thinkers and leaders in their fields. She is actively acquiring all genres for all age groups with a penchant for edgy, dark, unusual voices, unique settings, and everyman stories told with a new spin. She loves gritty, realistic, true-to-life stories with conflicts based in the real world; women’s fiction and nonfiction; accessible, pop nonfiction in science, history, and craft; and smart, fresh, genre-bending works for children.



What is it about a manuscript that excites you? 

I love unique stories. I want a book told in an original way, a main character I haven’t met before, conflicts and obstacles I’ve never encountered, exotic locations, fresh retellings, bold themes… I want something that makes me look at the world in a different way.

What are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?

My latest favorites have been SKYFARING by Mark Vanhoenacker for his incredibly beautiful descriptions of the world from a 747; ALL THE BIRDS SINGING by Evie Wyld for its haunted, hunted protagonist; GREENGLASS HOUSE by Kate Milford for its clever, soulful main character; and THE TIGHT-ROPE WALKERS by David Almond for his masterful skill in absolutely everything he writes.

What are some things you love to see in a query?

I’m a sucker for personalization. I love to see an author is querying me and not pasting their pitch into a “Dear Agent” form letter. I don’t expect authors to have read all my books, but I love when they’ve skimmed maybe one that prompted them to reach out. I also love when authors know what their hook is and what it is about their concept that makes it unique.

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

“Dear Ms. Banta, “Dear Adam Renta,” “Dear Mr. Ranta,” etc. forever. I still read the query, but I struggle to get over it.

Are you an editorial agent?

Yes! There’s more pressure than ever on authors and agents to provide really polished, impressive manuscripts when they go out on submission, so I make it my job to take manuscripts as far as I can. What this means is different for every project—sometimes a line edit, sometimes a general edit, sometimes it arrives on my desk looking perfect—and authors should make it their job to take it as far as they can before it gets to me.

Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability? 

Both. I’ve definitely fallen in love with manuscripts I knew I couldn’t sell, and not loved books I knew I could’ve, but I’ve passed on both. They’re both heartbreak scenarios and ultimately not good for anyone.

Is there anything you'd like to add that you think our readers should know?

Use critique partners! Outside advice from writers you admire and respect is priceless, and will also give you some time away from your draft so you can revise with fresh eyes. Keep calm, keep revising.

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