Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Guest blog, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe: BNFFs

***CONTEST IS CLOSED. Thanks, guys! ***

Eeee! You guys, I am SO excited to be hosting a guest blog from Fabulous Agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of Nancy Coffey Literary. Joanna read my manuscript when she was working as an assistant at FinePrint Literary, and she's been a fantastic friend/sounding board/cheerleader ever since. Anybody would be lucky to have Joanna in their corner. Listen to what she has to say! Oh, and did I mention that she's giving away a query crit AND books? Read on!

BNFF – Best Networking Friend Forever
by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe

I need to make a bold statement. One that some of you may disagree with, but nonetheless, I stand by it.

Agents are human beings.

That’s right! We’re not evil goblins who survive on the unhappiness of others. We’re not creepy elves who sit in our offices churning out form rejection letters day in and day out. And we’re certainly not slithery snakes, or sharks.

Well.  Most of us aren’t.

I’ve decided to come out as a human being at this time for three reasons: 

1.    It’s the holidays.
2.    I don’t like it when writers approach me at conferences (especially in the bathroom) with their manuscript in hand, suggesting that I read it on the plane ride home. They charge you by the pound for luggage these days so I usually try to travel light.
3.    I REALLY don’t like it when writers approach me at conferences as if they’re so below me that at any moment I’ll sneeze and mistake them for a tissue. I am not more important than you. Except maybe to my dog, PeeWee, because hey, I control his food.

So there should be no reason not to hang out with us agents at a conference and share a laugh/drink/crazy story/etc. In fact there is a very good reason to hang out with us at conferences—networking, of course! 

I definitely have more than a few writer friends who are not represented by me, and some not represented at all (yet), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have things in common. And most of them I met at conferences, just like the ones you attend. We laughed over dinner, exchanged vacation stories over a glass of wine, played board games and ate popcorn, we talked about movies, food, pets, good books, crazy family and celebrity gossip.  But the one thing we didn’t talk about was their manuscripts.  Because it wasn’t about pitching at that time.  It was about making a connection that had some lasting power.
If and when they do send me something to read (whether it’s a submission or not), you better believe I take it very seriously. And even if they don’t (because they’re already represented, or I don’t work on their genre), I am definitely going to cheer them on from the sidelines. You never know when you might attend an event with a client of mine. You may need a blurb for one of your books (or I might ask you for one!). You may need a critique group suggestion.  And I might send you a book to review on your blog.  Who knows what a wonderful connection like this could bring, right?  But you’ll never know unless you try.
All that being said, as fellow human beings, us agents don’t appreciate being stalked, hunted down or followed around all night. Just like with any connection, you have to make sure the feeling is mutual.

Moral of the story: Treat agents (and editors!) as you’d like to be treated. 

Follow this advice and you just might make a BNFF.

And since it IS the Season of Giving, I’d like to give two lucky people a present!  The two winners of the contest will be picked at random—all you need to do is leave a comment and tell me what your favorite genres are (ie-paranormal YA, adult historical romance, political thrillers, etc). The winners will receive a small package of books to read over the holidays and one query critique.

Cheers & Happy Holidays!

Bio: Joanna Stampfel-Volpe is an agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation.  She is looking for juvenile (up to YA) fiction and non-fiction, adult genre and mainstream fiction and some nonfiction areas. She accepts hard copy or e-mail queries--e-mail address:LiteraryNancy2@gmail.com. Send snail mail queries to 240 West 35th Street, Suite 500, New York, NY 10001. Joanna's specific interests are: chapter books to upper YA (non-fiction, contemporary, paranormal, romantic, humor, post-apocalyptic, historical and fantasy *fantasy/sci-fi needs to really stand out, unique), adult romance (historical, paranormal, contemporary), fantasy (urban fantasy, steampunk, unique), up-market fiction (dark, literary, horror, women's fic, commercial thrillers, historical, magical realism, speculative fic), narrative non-fiction (pop culture, environmental, foodie).

She is NOT interested in: cozies, cookbooks, academic nonfiction, epic fantasy for adults, hi-science fiction for adults, poetry, collections/short stories, screenplays.


Thanks so much, Joanna!

 So, CONTEST!! As Joanna said, just post a comment below, and list your favorite genres! Also, let's spread the word. You'll get one additional entry (+1) for tweeting about the contest OR posting on Facebook, and another additional entry (+1) for posting on your blog and letting us know about it!

Note: Eeek, I didn't put an end date on this! Let's do until Thursday at noon mountain time!

You KNOW you want to win a query critique from Joanna. Plus...Books!


Anonymous said...

Is it bad that I love almost every genre?

Okay, seriously, though... My favorite genre is YA fantasy and YA historical fiction. I also love YA contemporary and *some* (very few) YA paranormal.

I'm about to tweet about this here: http://twitter.com/_rachelsimon

-Rachel Simon

Brooklyn Ann said...

It has to be a tie between adult paranormal romance and historical romance. So much that I recently combined the two and wrote a historical paranormal romance.

And Joanna is absolutely right. I have had lots of friendly chats and even sometimes advice and questions answered by agents who don't even rep. my genre. It is still well worth it and I hope to be able to attend a conference and meet a few in person. They deserve mucho hugs.

Thanks Joanna for this delightful post.

Loved the "shark" reference.

Iona McAvoy said...

For years, ok, decades, I've been a mystery fan, cozy mysteries, police procedurals and anything involving murder. All the while though I read romance, historicals, as well as young adult/middgle grade books that would catch my eye. Does it say something that when Monty asked me to marry him by saying "I'm thinking of the "M" word" my first response was "Murder?" Great blog, Iona McAvoy, Houston, TX

Sandra Cormier said...

When I was a wee reader, I devoured books about horses, then moved on to epic fantasy like LOTR. After reading all of my mother's book club hardcovers and romance paperbacks, I moved on to mysteries and thrillers.

Now, with many of my author friends breaking out with YA, I'm enjoying those, too.

Hell, I'll read a cereal box if there's nothing left in the house.

My writing is almost as eclectic. My current WIP is a mix between women's fiction and a sprinkling of YA, but I won't shy away from writing a rollicking romantic suspense.

Thanks for the post, and thanks Susan for letting us into the head of a lovely agent.

Brooklyn Ann said...

Okay just posted on twitter and facebook.

Janet Reid said...

I've seen you swim after some pretty hot projects J! Don't tell ME you aren't sharky! Nicely sharky of course.

sort of like these

Unknown said...

My favorite are Urban fantasy, paranormal romance ...okay, sorry favorites...and horror.

Posted on twitter http://twitter.com/ebyss

Now I shall cross my fingers. :)

Jean Wogaman said...

Hi Joanna! It's nice to meet you here at Susan's place.

For middle graders I like magical realism, light fantasy, adventures, and humorous realism. For YA I like dystopian fiction, mysteries, and realistic stories that explore emotionally torturous situations. I also enjoy reading murder mysteries written for adults.

MorganWylie said...

Thanks for the article. Some of my favorites are YA urban fantasy and adult paranormal romance.

I posted on my twitter here: http://twitter.com/mjmayze


Miki Quick said...

Nice blog, Joanna! Big wave to Susan!

My favorite genre is urban fantasy. {Can I give a shout out to my gal Vicki Pettersson?};o)

Thank you!
Miki Quick

Esperanto said...

I enjoyed reading this.

My favorite genres are contemporary/literary fiction and YA fiction.

I am going to post this contest on my blog right now.

Elana Johnson said...

I'm pretty sure Jo knows this, so I don't feel bad saying I have a pretty severe girl-crush on her. She is made of all things win and awesome.

And my favorite genre? YA dystopia and paranormal. Or anything YA.

Great post!

Daisy Whitney said...

My favorite genre is YA all the way! And I will second and third everything she says. I'm not an agent, but I am a repped writer and I am friends with some of Joanna's clients and Joanna and I are Facebook friends and her clients Kody and I are with the same house -- so we are networking buddies! And the key with networking is don't pitch. Get to know someone at the event first!

suzie townsend said...

Yay Joanna!

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Technically it's not a genre, but romantic comedy is my favorite, ala Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips. As far as I'm concerned, anything goes better with humor, whether it's crime fiction, romance, or thrillers. I have trouble with books or characters that take themselves too seriously.

And Joanna also read one of my books while interning at FinePrint. I still have the lovely revision letter she sent. *wavinghello*

Larissa said...

Yay! How fun!

My favorite genre is YA paranormal or fantasy.

That was a really great post. Thanks!

Larissa said...

Oh, whoops! And I am tweeting this, too.


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Brilliant post...thank you! My favourite genre is that which I write, naturally. I'm quite partial to YA Sci-Fi, but I'll honestly read just about anything!

I've posted your giveaway on my blog at http://iswimforoceans.blogspot.com/

I've also tweeted your giveaway at http://twitter.com/melissahelmers

Thank you again!

Amy Kinzer said...

Greetings - Great interview.

Favorite genres: YA and Women's Fiction.

I blogged about the interview, tweeted about it (http://twitter.com/amykwrite) and let everyone know on the Absolute Write Forums the interview was here since everyone over there would love to have Joanna as an agent.

Anonymous said...


Great interview, Joanna! My favs are MG and YA fantasy, epic fantasy, and contemporary MG and YA.

Likari said...

My favorite genres are paranormal romance and historical romance.

From your internet presence, you seem like a wonderful human being. It's also nice to know you don't think of writers as potential tissues!

Vee said...

Um, I'll read just about anything that doesn't fall into the genre of maths textbook, but my favourite genres would have to be...drumroll...Literary YA
and Dystopian YA and YA urban fantasy. Yeah, I'm sensing a trend towards YA here.

Great interview, btw :D

Sandy Williams said...

My favorite genres:

Science-fiction romance
Historical romance
Urban fantasy and some paranormal romance.

I also love the occasional epic fantasy (Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks = awesome).

Also twittered about this post @brimfire


Rowan said...

Great interview! Thanks, Joanna.

Favorite genres are YA and Adult urban fantasy.

Tiffany Schmidt said...

It's clearly too early in the morning to be commenting. As I scrolled through the posts, I paused to try and figure out how "running shoes" was a genre... then I figured out it was spam. You were spammed, Suze! How dare they, especially on such a great post!

Thanks, Joanna.

My favorite genre is contemporary YA.

SP SIPAL said...

Great interview! Thanks for posting.

I love YA contemporary with a touch of fantasy. Also, retweeted at http://twitter.com/SPSipal


Caroline Richmond said...

Excellent post!

My favorite genres would have to be YA dystopian, YA fantasy, MG science fiction, and literary fiction.

And although it isn't a genre, I'll read anything by Jhumpa Lahiri. :o) Her prose blows me away every time.

I tweeted about the contest: twitter.com/ctrichmond.

Can't wait to see who the winners are!

Jeni said...

What a great blog entry -- and a great contest! Thank you, Susan and Joanne!

My favorite genre is middle-grade contemporary, but I also love YA contemporary, so much so that I am beginning to wonder why I'm not writing YA. That's my goal for 2010, to write a YA manuscript. After three middle-grade manuscripts, I'd like to try something new.

Holen said...

I started naming genres, but ended up with a shopping list, instead of just one favorite.

YA science-fiction/fantasy is a pretty safe bet. I also like latin fiction for it's magical realism, literary fiction, and historical fiction.

Ara Burklund said...

Great piece from Joanna, Susan. She sounds like someone who'd be fun to have drinks with. : )

I like free books, so here's my favorite genre:

YA contemporary.

Rose Green said...

Nice post--I was just thinking about how the holidays must be intersecting with the Great Towering Pile To Be Read, and hoping even agents get to relax and celebrate like regular people. :)

My favorite genre is YA, preferably with some kind of magic (contemporary fantasy) or in some way exotic (whether it's an international/multicultural aspect, or historical, or something else--as long as it's not the same old problems people have to deal with anyway). Fiction is supposed to be a break from everyday life!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I have heard lots of good things about Joanna. (Did you know sharks attack some 50-75 people each year worldwide, with perhaps 8-12 fatalities.) Those odds are pretty close to what it takes to get publsihed. (Ha! I jest. Seriously. It was a joke.)

Let's see, my favorite genre would be YA, be it paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary, etc.

I will post the link on my blog and I will also Twitter. How's that?

Unknown said...

Ha! A post about networking is ironic since, scrolling through these comments, I know several people (hi Susan and Daisy and Suzie!) here.

I gotta agree. Networking is great. I am one of Joanna's clients, and I am actually friends with another of her clients - who I met BEFORE either of us were agented. And no, I didn't recommend her. But we swapped query advice and critiques, and in the end, our networking paid off.

Also, yeah, agents are people. Joanna made me watch Princess Bride, I'd say that's pretty human. :)

Deborah Small said...

Thank you Suze, and Joanna for an interesting and informative post, and this opportunity.

My favorite genre? Oh, that is hard. I love to read, and will read the cereal box if there's no unread novel to hand, but if I have to choose...

Thrillers. Crime/Suspense. Historical Romance. Paranormal, and anything that makes me laugh. And not necessarily in that order.

This week, Elizabeth George shares space on the edge of my tub with Lisa Kleypas, Diana Gabaldon, James Lee Burke, and Michael Connolly. Next week, it might be Evanovich, Parker, and Pettersson. One day soon, I hope it will be Adrian, Grimes, and Anderson. :)

I will post about this contest on my Blog and Facebook. Thanks again!


courtney said...

(Don't count me as an entry!)

Great entry, Jo! This guestblog ROCKS. And so do you. And so do your clients. And so does Suze for hosting this! It is like The Circle of Rock. ~*~ And sparkles. :)

Penny said...

I love to YA, mostly paranormal, fantasy, and dystopian. I also enjoy middle grade contemporary and fantasy.

Thanks so much for this blog post! I've tweeted here: http://twitter.com/Penelopolini.

I've posted on my blog here: http://popwaffle.blogspot.com/

Thanks again!

Mechelle Fogelsong said...

I like all things YA, as long as they have some sort of romantic twist to the story. Example? Just finished GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray. An hour after reading the last page, I got in my car and drove to B&N, because I had to---HAD TO get the next two books in the series.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Joannna--Thanks for the insight. A few years ago, I was standing in line near Cheryl Klein...I was pretty sure she was about to be followed into the bathroom and accosted with a manuscript. I invited her to eat with me and two other writing buddies. I could tell she was relieved by my rescue attempt. Once we got her to our table, we didn't know what to do with her. We didn't want to pitch anything. She was so gracious. We talked about her life, her boyfriend, our lives, and writing. (no pitching) I haven't submitted any work to her, but she has answered questions via email on more than one occasion. I'm always thankful to my editor "friends" that are always willing to answer questions for me. (Randi Rivers, Judy Burke, Cherly Klein, and the great Clay Winters)

Favorite genre...That's a hard one. I enjoy (YA) historical fiction, (YA) realistic fiction and of course beautifully written picture books.

I'm not sure how to link a tweet....My learning curve has gone up ten fold in the last few months. I guess I'll only have one entry into your contest. I'll try to link your contest to my blog tomorrow. I'm having a contest that ends on Thursday.

Anonymous said...

Great competition! My fave genres are urban fantasy, steampunk, dystopian fantasy, and the YA versions of same. I love me some make believe with social commentary and good humour!

Julie Weathers said...

Joanna, thanks for this post.

I've had a blast with agents at conferences because we just sit and shoot the bull, down a few drinks and consume lots of cupcakes. It's good to point this out. Agents, editors and celebrity authors are also people.

I also got to witness the stalker thing in action and it isn't a myth. It's kind of creepy. Poor Diana Gabaldon.

All right. My favorite genres are well researched historical fiction. Don't assume readers are stupid and won't notice you tightened the saddle with a winch (or a wench) instead of a cinch. Epic fantasy. I love big, fat, world-building fantasies. Mystery, suspense, westerns (very well researched) and inspirational.

Happy holidays to you and yours and thanks for doing this.

Annika said...

Agents are PEOPLE? Not in Los Angeles, they aren't. New York must grow them on better trees.

My favorite genres *right now* (I could never commit for all time) are middle grade/young adult (especially coming of age stuff, especially with female narrators) and narrative non-fiction (especially parenting stuff, since that's what I'm doing all day). And books about making stuff, whether it is a cookbook or a craft book or anything else like that. I don't know if that's really a genre or if I've just stuffed a whole bunch of genres together.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post and contest!

I love gothic stories, all sub-genres of adult fantasy (but especially mythic fiction), historical, dystopian, and YA fantasy.

Kristin Halbrook said...

YA Contemp. ftw!

If I win I'm passing the crit along to a friend but keeping the books!