Some agents put the ‘r’ in rockstar – and for agent Lauren MacLeod, being a rockstar means reading, and lots of it.
Since graduating from college, MacLeod has had the pleasure of working at the prestigious Strothman agency and handling the kid-lit line.
“I love everything about being an agent. It is absolutely my dream job, and sometimes I still have to pinch myself. I love working on such a wide range of books in so many capacities. I get to work with these incredibly talented people on these books I’m absolutely in love with, and I get to make these amazing phone calls such as, ‘I believe in your book and want to sign you as a client,’ and, ‘We have an offer!’, which makes me feel like being a fairy godmother,” said MacLeod.
There is no doubting MacLeod’s excellent taste. Jodi Meadows leads her client list, adding a new fantasy duology titled The Orphan Queen to her titles in 2015. MacLeod has pitched the title as “a YA Game of Thrones crossed with Batman with more romance,” and cannot wait for readers to find out more about it as well as the final title to the Incarnate trilogy, which will hit shelves in January.
In addition, MacLeod is also introducing two YA debuts next winter. One is a “suspenseful secret-society” thriller by Lizzie Friend, which MacLeod confessed she couldn’t put down when the manuscript came across her desk. “I suspect most readers will feel the same way!”
The second new offering is The Other Way Around by Sashi Kaufman, a contemporary and coming-of-age where a boy runs away with a group of teenagers he meets at a bus stop. “It is really funny, and a little dark, and her voice is just amazing.”
MacLeod’s passion for young adult literature comes from how original it can be.
“I think some of the most interesting writing going on at the moment is on the kidlit side – because the genre is so vibrant and ‘new’ and open to all sort of experimentation. There is a heck of a lot of new talent writing YA these days and I find that very exciting. And the fan base is so passionate and involved, which is the icing on the cake,” said MacLeod.
It doesn’t hurt that MacLeod is fulfilling her own teenage dreams. “I’m signing up and working on books that I would have loved to have as a teen, and I find that really gratifying. I do a lot of work reading in my free time, too, but it is still reading books about kissing. For work. Honestly, ten-year-old Lauren cannot believe her good luck.”Lauren MacLeod. Photo courtesy of Lauren MacLeod.
Besides her work as an agent, MacLeod is an avid movie watcher with her husband, a “major, devoted, superstitious, entire-drawer-of-t-shirts-plus-two” Red Sox fan, and, of course, a die-hard reader.
MacLeod is always open to submissions in the YA and MG voice. Though she enjoys all categories, she does have particular affinities.
“I’m always looking for great YA and MG voices, books that make me laugh, swoon or cry. I’m open to YA fantasy or sci-fi, but it has to feel new. I love YA contemporary, and I’m glad it seems to be having its time in the spotlight. I’d love to see more YA mysteries and thrillers, horror and scary books in my slush pile – those are what I gravitated to as a teen and I’d love to have some more on my list,” said MacLeod.
And her advice to aspiring writers – or editors – or agents?
“Read widely in your genre. It is really important to know the market, and have an idea of what is out there – and when a writer is well read in his or her genre, it absolutely shows in the quality of his or her writing. As for those in the querying trenches, all I can say has already been said a hundred thousand times: query widely, and do your research.”
For more information on Lauren MacLeod and the Strothman Agency, visit the agency’s website.