Today, I’m thrilled to welcome agent Lynnette Novak from The Seymour Agency to The Mixed-Up Files. We had a great talk about publishing and middle grade books. You can learn more about Lynnette and what types of manuscripts she’s looking for here. In the meantime, take a look at the interview to get to know her even better.
Dorian: Welcome to The Mixed-Up Files! Can you tell us a little bit about your path to becoming a literary agent and about The Seymour Agency?
Lynnette: In Canada, I was a teacher and a writer, then I added freelance editor to my titles. When I moved to the U.S. to be with my husband, I continued writing romantic suspense manuscripts and started to final and WIN contests, including becoming a Golden Heart Finalist (RWA) and having two manuscripts final in the Daphne (as well as other contests). I grew my editorial business online and was a mentor in Pitch Wars for two years. That’s what put the “agenting bug” into my system. I loved going through my slush pile, choosing which project to work on, and seeing it go somewhere. Both of my mentees acquired agents and one is now published! My writing career was starting to take off, but I was really drawn to agenting, so that’s the path I decided to follow. I’m so happy I did. I LOVE THIS JOB!!!
Dorian: How wonderful to be involved in so many facets of the book industry. What middle-grade books inspired you as you were growing up?
Lynnette: I loved Judy Blume, as well as many other authors, but she was my go-to.
Dorian: What are some of your favorite recent middle-grade books?
Lynnette: Too many to list! LOL It also depends on my mood. Sometimes, I want to read MG horror. Other times, I’m more in the mood for something contemporary, especially from a diverse author who can offer an authentic voice. I also like cute and funny as well as cool worlds in fantasy and sci-fi. Plus, I’ve recently fallen in love with novels-in-verse and graphic novels.
Dorian: What genres, subjects, or themes would you be thrilled to receive when you open your in-box?
Lynnette: See previous answer. LOL I’m really drawn to an author’s voice above all. Hook me with that, add a unique premise (or a twist to something that’s been done), and I’ll be thrilled!
Dorian: What do you wish writers who query you knew about the publishing industry?
Lynnette: I wish more authors would do their homework before querying. I receive too many queries with word counts that are way under or over the industry standard, which is usually an instant rejection.
Dorian: Good advice! What are some of your hobbies or special interests that aren’t necessarily obvious through your agent profile?
Lynnette: I’m a crafter. I do all kinds of crafts like: cross-stitching, building miniature houses, painting sculptures, diamond painting, scrapbooking, Rainbow Looming, needle felting, crocheting, and more!!! I’m also obsessed with animals and nature!
Dorian: Do you see any changes coming up for middle-grade books in 2022?
Lynnette: Oh, if only I had a crystal ball! LOL
Dorian: I guess that’s what we all want LOL. You mention that before you were an agent, you were an editor. What craft tips do you have for our readers who are also writers?
Lynnette: Learn about GMCs (goals, motivations, conflicts – both internal AND external—and what’s at stake), show/don’t tell, POV slips, talking heads, backstory dumps, pacing, and authentic dialogue.
Dorian: Great tips! Would you like to tell us about any middle-grade books coming out this year from The Seymour Agency?
Lynnette: Marzieh Abbas has a six-book early chapter book series, starring Muslim-American sibling Nadia and Nadir, coming out in the fall of 2022.
Jonathan Rosen and Henry Herz’s COMING OF AGE: 13 B’NAI MITZVAH STORIES, a middle-grade anthology including 13 stories about the Jewish rite of passage by: NYT bestselling author Barbara Bottner, NYT bestselling author Nancy Krulik, NYT bestselling author Stacia Deutsch, award-winning author Alan Katz, award-winning author Laura Shovan, award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin, Sarah Aronson, Debbie Reed Fischer, Debra Green, Henry Herz, Jonathan Rosen, Melissa Roske, and Stacie Ramey is coming out in March 2022.
I can’t talk about the other MG deals yet because they haven’t been announced, but for the most part, those will come out in 2023.
Dorian: How can readers and writers follow you on social media?
Lynnette: @Lynnette_Novak on Twitter
Dorian: Thanks so much, Lynnette, for taking the time to talk to us!
Lynnette: Thanks so much for having me! I had a blast!!!