Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Interview with Agent Sha-Shana N. L. Crichton

I heard this agent speak on an agent editor panel last near in October. I was very impressed with her.

Though this interview is geared toward the romance genre, the principles apply to us all. You will note Ms. Crichton did not limit her likes and dislikes in literature and theatre to romance.


By Lois Winston, KOD Industry Liaison

Sha-Shana N.L. Crichton is the president of Crichton & Associates, Inc. Literary Agency. She is a certified mediator as well as a publishing and entertainment attorney, licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. This year Ms. Crichton is our agent judge for the Historical category of the Unpublished Daphne du Maurier Awards.

For submission and queries, contact her at:
Crichton & Associates, Inc.
6940 Carroll Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912

LW: What sub-genres of mystery/suspense are you looking for (historical, contemporary, erotica, YA, cozy, paranormal, inspirational, chick-lit, etc.)?

SC: Chick-lit, women's fiction, historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, YA, cozy, paranormal, inspirational.

LW: Are there any mystery/suspense sub-genres you don't handle?

SC: No.

LW: You've just read a query letter that knocked your socks off and made you want to read the manuscript at once. Why?

SC: The story has a fabulous hook and is character driven.

LW: What are the ingredients of a query letter that will get the author a quick 'no thanks' reply?

SC: One that tells you nothing about the story and one where the author tells that he or she has six unpublished manuscripts in five different genres.

LW: Based on a query letter or pitch, you ask to see a partial. You love it, ask for the complete, but eventually reject the manuscript. What are the top five reasons for a manuscript's rejection in such a scenario?

SC: I do not fall in love with the characters or the story as I thought I would have during the pitch because:
1. The characters are underdeveloped
2. The character traits are inconsistent (a passive type A personality and there are no reasons shown why he or she becomes passive at that moment or those moments)
3. The writing is inconsistent (great first three or four chapters, the rest ..)
4. The plot and grammar need lots of work
5. The genre line is crossed. For example, the story is supposed to be a romance novel, however, the author has a mix of women's fiction, sci-fi, paranormal, etc.

LW: What's your response time on queries? On requested partials? On completes?

SC: This depends. I tend to give a quick glance at everything that comes in within two to three days. If a query, or the first five pages of the partial or manuscript grab my attention - an immediate response. If I have to think about it, I will pick it up again and take another look in another two to three weeks. If I know it is a definite NO - the rejection letters go out within four weeks. If I am undecided - it takes longer!

LW: What's your REAL response time on queries? On requested partials? On completes?

SC: Please see above.

LW: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite movies? Favorite TV shows?

SC: Isabele Allende, Gabriel Marquez, among many other
Favorite Movies - Motorcycle Diaries, House of Sands and Fogs, Under the Tuscan Sun
Favorite TV Show - Desperate Housewives, ER, Law and Order, Judging Amy, CSI

LW: What is the best book you've read in the past year? Why?

SC: I have read so many books but the best ones I have read are - The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (a very well written book) and The Widows Of Wichita County by Jodi Thomas (loved the characters).

LW: What haven't you seen that you would love to see in a submission?

SC: I will have to think about this!
(Note: Ms. Crichton never got back to this questions.)

LW: Are there any subjects/types of characters/plots/scenarios you absolutely don't want to see?

SC: It all depends on the context. A really abusive person may work well in a memoir, a narcissist may be great in a chick-it / comedy.

LW: Who are some of your published author clients?

SC: Beverly Long, Jessica Trapp, Cassandra Darden-Bell, Maureen Smith, Kimberly White, Daaimah Poole, Trista Russell, Candace Havens, Sophia Shaw, Altonya Washington

LW: Is there anything else you'd like to tell KOD members about yourself and/or your agency?
(Note: Ms. Crichton didn't respond to this question.)

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