Thursday, April 23, 2015

0 Agent Cara Mannion of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated on Her Wish List and Giving 100%

A graduate of New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, Cara is the newest addition to the legacy agency Harold Ober Associates. She worked in editorial at Entangled Publishing’s new adult imprint for two years before joining the agency world. At HOA, she works in both the book and film/TV worlds as she assists with selling books’ motion picture rights. Originally hailing from the sunny beaches of Florida, Cara is now enjoying seeing the seasons actually change while actively building her own client list. She can be found on Twitter @Cara_Mannion.

Currently Looking For: Mainly YA and adult commercial fiction, including romance (and all its subgenres), historical fiction, women’s fiction, paranormal, science fiction, horror, and mysteries. Limited interest in nonfiction includes humor and biography. Cara particularly enjoys strong female protagonists, diverse protagonists, subversive conspiracy plots, and opening lines that make you want to jump headfirst into the book.

Not Looking For: Fantasy, memoirs, picture books, poetry, self-help books, screenplays and short story collections.

How to submit: Please email the first 10 pages of your manuscript, a concise query letter, and a detailed synopsis to

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

A traditional query that is clear, concise, and captivating can go a long way. Often times, authors throw a bunch of personal information or unnecessary descriptions into the query when agents really just want to be hooked on the story. Instead of saying that your work will make readers cry and cheer for the protagonist, show agents this emotion through interesting, succinct writing. Grabbing my attention from the hundreds of queries in my inbox and making me want to read more is the whole purpose of this process, so make sure it captures the heart and voice of the manuscript and edit it until it reads perfectly. Make sure to research query format and stick to it. And don’t forget to include the necessary query facts, such as the genre, word count, past author publications (and where each title was published!), and comps.

What makes you a great agent?

I’m going to put 100 percent effort into every opportunity afforded to me, from completely reading each query in my inbox to negotiating the best possible contract terms for my authors. It’s easy (and frankly sometimes tempting) to dismiss a query that doesn’t fall into my preferred genres or word counts, but I promised myself when first starting out that I would give every query that comes across my desk a chance to enthrall me. These authors entrust in me the chance to represent them, and so I must entrust in them that they’re sending me their best work. I give every job duty my complete attention and strive to fill the roles my authors need from me, whether they prefer a more hands-on approach with weekly updates and multiple editorial letters or a more laissez-faire professionalism. I packed up and moved away from my life in Florida to pursue this career, so it’s important that I give it my all at every venture.

Character, world, or plot? 

I would hope these aren’t mutually exclusive! I don’t see why a manuscript can’t have it all, and I encourage every author to seriously think about how they can better their manuscripts in each of these categories. However, if I had to pick one, I would say a manuscript’s voice is key. How you tell the story is the most important part of being a writer. If readers don’t emotionally identify with the characters, then they won’t care what happens to them, even if the plot is enthralling. It’s extremely difficult to edit how characters interpret their worlds around them, while changing a plot point can be completed with little effort. Especially in YA, there’s been such a push to find unique voices that allow readers to personally identify with characters going through life’s greatest challenges. You still need a strong plot hook and a believable world, don’t get me wrong, but reading is all about emotional responses, and that usually starts with the characters.

Why did you become an agent?

The easy answer is to say I love reading, but the real answer is to make others love reading. The ability to be a gatekeeper of such an influential market was very tempting when determining my career path. By having my finger on the pulse of publishing, I’m a part of determining what books are available to the masses. This allows me to help create reading experiences that could one day greatly impact someone’s life, just as I was inspired as a little girl. I want to provide entertaining, engrossing, and thought-provoking works that serve all types of reading desires, from flying through a quick read on the beach to discovering a little more of whom someone is as a person. I open my email every day to see what queries will inspire me, just as I hope readers will do one day when looking on a bookstore shelf to see which of my works will inspire them.

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

Is it a faux pas to say pizza? No? Pizza, then.

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

Please know that agents want you to succeed. We’re all looking for that one submission to steal our hearts and make us jump at the opportunity to represent you. Your writing success is our agenting success, so please know that we are always on the writers’ side.  Agents need to reject for a variety of reasons, including having a title too similar to yours and having too many authors to represent already. It’s a numbers game submitting to agents, just like it’s a numbers game for us to find the one query out of hundreds that speaks to us. Keep trucking along and believing in your work!

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