‘Tis my distinct pleasure to be working with some pretty great people right now, one of whom is Ms Lindsay Ribar at Sanford J Greenburger. Lindsay is the woman who plucked me out of the slush pile, said nice things about my book to her boss and to whom I owe an extraordinary amount of expensive red wine.
She was nice enough to share a bit of her time to answer some questions for me about life, the universe and publishing. Considering she’s dealing with over a hundred submissions every week in addition to looking for her own clients, being an agented author herself (update – Lindsay’s trilogy sold to Dial/Penguin – go, you good thing!), and dealing with my colossal ego, everyone should nod their heads and say “Thank you Lindsayyyyy” in that sing-song voice that pre-schoolers use.
…I mean it. Sing godammit.
Hello Lindsay, thanks for taking the time to type to us. Just in case someone googled “Lindsay Ribar Interview” without knowing who the hell you are, please state your name, occupation, and star sign for the record.
Name: Lindsay T. Ribar. I am not telling you what the T stands for. I like to maintain an air of mystery.
Occupation: Assistant to Matt Bialer, literary agent extraordinaire. Also, junior agent in my own right, which basically means that while my primary job is still assisting Matt, I am also actively seeking clients of my own.
Star sign: Taurus. Draw whatever conclusions you want. You’ll probably be right.
Before we proceed, do you have any criminal convictions I should be aware of?
I have been convicted, multiple times, of being too awesome. Fortunately they don’t send you to jail for that. 🙂
They actually do send you to jail for that in England. OK, quick “gettin’ to know you” stuff:
Last book you read that was so good it gave you goosebumps:
You mean aside from STORMDANCER? (this question was a test, which Lindsay passed) Hmmm, probably A LOVE STORY STARRING MY DEAD BEST FRIEND. It’s a gorgeous young adult book by a first-time author, and I am totally unashamed to say that it had me in tears in more places than one.
You are SUCH a girl. Last film you saw that didn’t make you wonder how they taught a monkey to type:
Last film of that nature was entitled HEY DUDE LAY OFF THE GENDER STEREOTYPES. That is a lie. To my knowledge, there is no such film (yet). But I actually saw TRUE GRIT over the weekend, and completely loved it. (For the record, it did not make me cry.)
The one album you’d gladly be marooned on a desert island with. A proper desert island please, not a nonsensical one with polar bears and a perpetually unshaven – yet his chest is still as smooth as the second he walked out of the salon – Josh Holloway:
Please be aware that while I never made it past season two of that particular show, I have absolutely nothing against Josh Holloway and his manly stubble. But hmm, desert island discs. Right now, I’d probably pick NOTHING RHYMES WITH WOMAN by Carbon Leaf. They’re a fantastic indie band out of Virginia, and their music is a really cool blend of Celtic, alternative, and straight-up rock. Given the option of a second album (and you would give me that option, right? of course you would) (No I would not, but anyway…), I’d go with STARING DOWN THE BRILLIANT DREAM, the Indigo Girls’ most recent live album.
Jacob or Edward?
I am going to pretend you didn’t ask that. In fact, what I am sure you meant to ask was “Peeta or Gale?” in which case I am Team Gale Even Though They Are Totally Wrong For Each Other.
Alrighty, enough of the getting to know you stuff. Give us a breakdown of a day in the life of Lindsay Ribar.
Well, on the rare day that I’m NOT marooned on a desert island with Josh Holloway and a single CD (I do get a CD player too, right?) (Hell, no), it goes something like this:
Early o’clock: My alarm goes off. I curse the heavens and drag myself out of bed.
Still-early o’clock: I arrive at work and make a caffeinated beverage for myself while my computer boots up. I avoid saying too many words to other human beings until after the consumption of said beverage.
Morning: I read queries! I read partials! I send rejection letters and manuscript requests! I touch base with all the people I need to touch base with!
One o’clock-ish: I venture outside to seek sustenance and breathe the fresh New York air. Maybe I even have a lunch date with a colleague.
Afternoon: I settle in, preferably with a cup of tea and some snacks, to get some serious full-manuscript reading done. Sometimes office-related paperwork sneaks in somewhere.
After-work o’clock: I do some writing at home, maybe hit the gym (I am actually one of those people who gets a lot of work-reading done while on the elliptical machine), maybe take over a table at a coffee shop, maybe go to English Country Dancing (??!?). All this is dependent, of course, on my not having concert tickets. If I do have concert tickets, which is often, my evening goes like this: Line up for concert, claim front-row spot at concert, cheer loudly during concert, walk to nearest public transportation hub while gushing with my friends about concert.
Late o’clock: Climb into my weird little loft bed and dream about manuscripts.
It’s not that exciting. But it happens in New York, which means at least it is loud.
Name three things that make you want to start stabbing yourself in the eyes and screaming whilst reading a query letter.
Only three? I mean… wow, that’s a hard one! Here are my top three of today:
– Some variation on the phrase “You are stupid if you don’t sign my book”
– One or more typos in the very first sentence of the letter
– An introduction that reads “Dear [name that is neither Bialer nor Ribar]”
A special mention goes out to any query in which the word “query” is misspelled.
Name three things that are 100% guaranteed to make you run into Matt’s office with a manuscript and say “omgomgomgomgomgomg”.
Writing, writing, and writing. I know that’s a total cheat of an answer, but it’s true. There is no single thing that will actually guarantee arm-flailing enthusiasm over a manuscript. Even my personal favorite plot elements (double identities, werewolves, angsty backstories, a solid love story, etc.) can be a turnoff if written poorly. When a manuscript works for me, it’s always because of a bazillion different elements coming together well. But even after all those elements are there, the quality of the writing can still make it or break it. Bad writing can kill a great story, just as good writing can save a just-okay story. (And a just-okay story can often be edited into a great story, if everyone’s on the same page about where said story needs to go.)
Is the state of affairs in the super-happy sunshine candyland world of modern publishing as grim as many pundits are saying?
Eh, I don’t think so. What I do think is that the industry is changing, largely in part due to the increasing popularity of E-books. The long-term effects of electronic publishing are still an unknown quantity, and it’s hard to know how to adapt to a changing industry when you don’t yet know what the changes mean. But as far as what’s going on now: agents are still signing books, editors are still buying books, readers are still reading books. I don’t think we’re going anywhere anytime soon.
You’ve said that in addition to being Matt Bialer’s super-powered assistant, you’re also an agent in the spare three minutes you enjoy every day. What kind of stuff are you looking for?
Oh, come off it. The part about superpowers was merely implied. But yes, I am doing a bit of agenting as well! Right now I am focusing my search on YA and middle grade, both SFF and non-genre. But really, I’ll snap up anything that comes my way, if it’s awesome enough.
Best way for a querying writer to get your attention? (the positive kind, not the restraining-order kind)
You mean aside from Writing A Good Book? (Har har.) In all seriousness: follow our query protocol (it’s on the website), don’t follow up with angry phone calls, be concise, and for heaven’s sake, proofread your submission materials!
Best advice you could give to any aspiring author?
Do your research. If you are a writer who is serious about being published, get online, talk to people, read blogs, read Q&A’s, stalk people on Twitter, whatever it takes to be informed. There is plenty of information out there about what the market is like, who’s buying/selling what, which books are getting serious attention, which trends are rising/falling, etc., and if you know what’s going on, you’re already ahead of the game.
Does the “T” stand for “Tiffany”?
Teresa. But you were close! (Not really.)
No, not really 😦
Submissions for Lindsay or Matt Bialer can be emailed to LRibar [at] sjga [dot] com, or snailmailed to
55 fifth avenue
new york, ny 10003
You can totally stalk her on Twitter here.