Moe Ferrara is a brand-spanking-new agent with BookEnds Literary, and a personal friend of mine going way back! I’m honored to host her inaugural interview with LOTS of juicy info for those interested in querying her.
Literary Agent & Subsidiary Rights Director
What is your ideal client like?
My ideal client is someone I can work well with together. I’m a chatty person by my very nature, so I’d like to have a good relationship with my clients. I’d like for them to feel like they can come to me with concerns, no matter what — and the same in reverse. If I felt like they came to me with a book I couldn’t sell, that we would look at it and see what’s salvageable and what isn’t. Where things went wrong, etc. And at the same time, I’m happy for them to email me a hilarious tumblr post or fantastic imgur picture set if it made their day. But at the end of the day, my authors are my clients and it is a business relationship. Yet just because it’s a business relationship doesn’t mean we can’t have fun together too!
Are you an editorial agent?
Most definitely. I’m not the editorial agent who can tell you “move that comma” or “that should be a semi-colon.” If you’re looking for that kind of editorial agent, I’m not the person for you. I look at the big picture in things. I’m great at seeing where plots work and where they don’t. Where characters can be made stronger, where they’re weak and seeing the big picture to make your book as strong as it can be. However and at the same time, I would never expect my clients to take every single change suggested without question. If you disagree with me? Great — then write it stronger and prove me wrong.
What kinds of protagonists are you looking for? Any particular kinds of voices you’d like to see?
I don’t know if there is any specific protagonist or voice I’m looking for. It’s not evading the question, I promise! I just don’t want my inbox filled with only one type of character or voice because I mention it in an interview. Often you don’t know what you really want until you’re reading it. Basically, the voice I’m looking for is one that has me staying up until 3AM to finish your full or am cursing myself that I only requested a partial.
What YA novel tropes do you love? Which ones do you hate?
“Aaaah I’m so clumsy and I just happened to run into this guy and oh my god he’s the love of my life!” — As a perpetually clumsy girl who has tripped over her own two feet, I can guarantee you do not fall into the arms of the hottest guy ever. Or into some embarrassing pile of [insert gross stuff here]. More realistically, you fall, scrape a knee and ruin your favorite pair of jeans. Love at first sight is so overdone too. I’m tempted to say love triangles are overdone, but I think if it’s handled correctly I’ll love it. Romance is great? But don’t make the girl’s happiness rely solely on getting the boy to know her.
Give me your pain in the ass protagonists who have to go through a great redemption character arc. I love heroines who hate their hero but wind up falling for them when they’re forced to be together for a period of time. Time or magical travel from touching a magic object is also one of those things I love. But just be forewarned — because they ARE tropes, do make sure they’re unique and aren’t tired versions. Be fresh!
If I saw a book based on the concept of X, I’d pee my pants with excitement (fill in the blank!)
This was actually on my MSWL a couple of days ago. I loved “Jupiter Ascending” (even if it was full of plot-holes and was a film of let’s give the Wachowski’s money to do crazy space things) so crazy-insane space opera would be awesome. Ensemble groups are great (think “Firefly” or “Dead Like Me”). Actually, yes. Send me something that’s akin to “Dead Like Me” and I may do a Hugh Grant!LoveActually happy dance.
Your profile notes you are looking for LGBTQ content. Are there any specific kinds of LGBTQ stories you are hankering for?
I actually really would love to see some of the under-represented folks in my stories. Bisexual, Asexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Genderqueer, Gender Fluid, Intersex, etc. I also am not really looking for a coming out story because those do exist (unless you have a new spin, of course! Sometimes I don’t know what I want until I see it!). What I’m really looking for are the stories where someone’s sexuality doesn’t define them but instead features (for instance) that a kickass bisexual or gender fluid protagonist can have the same adventure that a cis protagonist has. Something where the sexuality or gender is merely a character trait, but said trait isn’t the focal point of the book.
What kinds of projects are you looking for beyond YA? Is there a specific kind of MG, or adult genre book you’d love to represent?
I have a huge weakness for erotic romance (especially of the M/M variety, but I will seriously look at any and all pairings in the LGBTQIA spectrum). I’m probably one of the few people left who still loves stories dealing with the Fae. Time travel is always awesome, as are re-tellings of any mythology (Greek, Roman, Norse) or fairytales. I just ask that you not send me any vampires. I don’t like ‘em and I don’t want ‘em and you won’t change my mind, I promise you that.
What are some of your favorite reads across the genres you represent?
Middle Grade: I know this is going old-school — but Goosebumps. They’re ones I still go back to read even as an adult. For something more recent, I’d say The Copernicus Legacy series by Tony Abbott.
YA: Asylum series by Madeline Roux. I loved the interweaving of creepy photos with the story. I also have a soft spot for LIV, FOREVER by Amy Talkington. Also for a fantastic LGBTQ book, there’s NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio about an intersex teen.
Adult: It’s a close tie between the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (and is one of the reasons I utterly adore Fae stories) and either AMERICAN GODS or STARDUST by Neil Gaiman.
You are fannish/of fandom… how does your background inform your tastes? And what are your fave fandoms & OTPs?
I am fannish, though I will take the secret of my LJ name to the grave. (So don’t ask.) I think my background has automatically turned me more toward the scifi / fantasy end of the spectrum. I began in Sailor Moon moved (and spent a LOT of time in) Harry Potter and I dabble my toes in and out of Avengers / Marvel. There are other fandoms I’d have gotten into, but I lived through enough fandom insanity during my HP days that… well… I avoid those other fandoms like the plague.
As for my OTPs? In Harry Potter it’s a tie between Remus/Sirius and Remus/Snape. I also, up until the very end, rooted for Harry and Hermione to get together. In Avengers ScienceBros (aka, Bruce/Tony) is my lifeblood.
What are your manuscript pet peeves and/or the thing you might see in a manuscript that makes you stop reading?
The usual things. Please no waking up, or having a protagonist’s appearance be described as they’re looking in a mirror. I don’t mind prologues (so I won’t automatically pass if I see one) because I do agree they have their place if used effectively. Really, my biggest pet peeves in manuscripts are when the first three chapters or first fifty pages are utterly and completely shiny and polished — and then you get to the rest and you can tell an author spent so much time on the opening… and not enough on the rest. Please, give as much attention to the end of the book as you do the beginning!
Do you respond to all queries that come to you, or does no response mean no?
I used to be a querying author once upon a time so I know how frustrating it is to not receive a response from an agent. So unless anything massive changes in my life as an agent, I will respond to all queries though I can’t say for sure what my response time will be. I’ll also try to post on twitter (I’m @inthesestones there, come say hi!) to say when I’ve gotten through queries and / or requested materials up to a certain point so you know if you may have gotten caught in my spam folder!
About Moe Ferrara
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.