Mortimer signs only writers not yet published by a traditional house, or those who haven’t been published within the last three years. She looks for manuscripts that are great as is, or manuscripts that are close, but need some work to catch an editor’s eye. For full submission guidelines, visit mortimerliterary.com/submission.htm
What Distinguishes Her Agency: Most agents have more experience, and have been through situations I haven’t. What I can promise is honesty. And I’m a fighter. I’m scrappy. I’m the female version of Rocky Balboa, and the human Seabiscuit. I just don’t have it in me to quit. One of my professors told me I cold sell ice cubes to Eskimos.
Seeking: A date with Colin Farrell. But, since that ain’t gonna happen…I want go-to guys and gals. This business isn’t for wimps, crybabies or, in historical terms, simpering fops. It’s a war zone out there. No playtime allowed. Writers: Don’t concentrate on winning the battle (getting published); concentrate on winning the war (staying published – having a career as a writer)! In terms of genre: suspense (from the first line on, please), paranormals (dark and light) and young adult—for me, a protagonist about 16. (Don’t send stuff I wouldn’t let a kid read. I have to draw the line somewhere.)…In nonfiction, I’m eclectic. “I’m interested in everything from [mixed martial arts] to collecting vintage jewelry. (I have about 400 pieces –it’s all I wear.) I’ll read a query about most anything, except I don’t represent books that are anti-God or anti-Jewish, anti-Jesus or anti-Christian, anti-military, anti-liberating-wars or anti-constitutional-rights.
Perfect Day: I shot a rattlesnake in the morning, closed a book deal in the afternoon and designed a handbag (my other company) in the evening, implementing the snake’s rattle as an embellishment. And yes, I have pictures.
Most Novel Manuscripts Are …not ready for submission. Most writers are either impatient, or they just don’t know any better. I feel bad, but I can’t do much other than be as nice as possible, and give them some pointers.
Is There A Magic Bullet To Successful Authorship? Most would say there isn’t one. I disagree. The bullet is hard flippin’ work, and an I-refuse-to-give-up attitude. One of my quotes: “I never fail, because I don’t quit until I succeed.” My attitude is: It’s not if you get published—it’s when. Example: My client Kelly Ann Riley stayed with me doggedly through every rejection. I told her to keep writing, and I’d keep editing and submitting, and if neither of us quit on each other, she’d eventually get published. Three a half years later, I got a contract, and in a few months’ time, she was writing for two houses.
Best Publishing Advice Read or Received: It covers any field: Whatever you choose to do, give it everything you have, no matter what. No effort is trivial if the effort is your all.
By Jane Friedman for Writer’s Digest March/April 2011