SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Exclusive with… Liza Fleissig

 

Liza Fleissig is a founder of LRA, a cross-platform company that provides development, representation, and strategic career management for clients in all media, from the most established to those developing their craft. Recent media projects include a direct-to-series deal with Starz with Jerry Bruckheimer, and Oscar Winner Common for Black Samurai, and the option of Someone Else’s Summer for a feature film with Bailee Madison attached to star.

A former partner in a NYC-based litigation law firm, Liza brings over 20 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies, and television, allows her to build on a referral-based clientele. From picture books through adult projects, fiction and nonfiction, she welcomes strong voices and plot-driven works.

 

What brought you to agenting?

I have always had a strong sphere of influence from friends in the publishing industry, and had been searching for something creative to do for a long time after my children were born.  I love reading, loved helping my author friends, and after a 20-year litigation career, this seemed like the most logical next step.  Especially when I would see how frustrating it was for debuts to find agents, despite being uber talented, I knew championing them was something I wanted to do. Besides, I guess when you come from an entrepreneurial family, it’s in your blood to take risks and try new things!

 

What do you look for when you read a manuscript?  What makes you want to represent an author?

Like all readers, I love a good story. Whether you make me laugh, cry, or push my detective skills, I want to be so engaged that I can’t turn the pages fast enough. I want to feel like the characters are people I know so by the end of the book I can almost anticipate dialogue, thinking “that’s SO what she would say.” That said, I don’t care about trends, and really don’t enjoy gratuitous sex, cursing, or characters/language that belong for the sake of checking boxes. These days you have so many people scrambling trying to give an agent what the “market” tells them, instead of writing an actual story that comes from the heart that they are compelled to tell. THAT is the story I want – not someone else’s.

 

What can an author expect once they sign with you?

To work VERY hard – just like we do.  And to expect candid feedback with no punches pulled. Many think you are there to sell and that’s it, but the real heavy lifting comes long after a sale. There are so many steps along the way to publication and beyond that require a solid advocate, and often the sale to a publisher is the easy part. Also most don’t understand that even when editors are your close friends, that doesn’t mean we can get them to buy your book. There is no magic formula. There are many reasons an editor passes on a book, and to be sure, your agent is just as crushed as you are. Remember, an agent truly rises and falls with you. So critical to this relationship is to keep honest channels of communication open, and to be willing to revise (and revise again) as much as necessary to ensure the strongest chance out of the gate. This requires no false timelines, an open mind, and the ability to shake off disappointment in order to keep your eye on the prize.

It is also very important that our authors be willing to support other authors without falling into that dark hole of comparisons.  It’s not about what the other author has, it’s what YOU have. Keep your eyes on your own paper and be happy for others’ successes so in turn they can be happy for you too. LRA truly works like a family, and while we don’t expect clients to hold hands and sing kumbaya, we do expect them to cross-support each other.  We also expect them to understand the importance of marketing and doing for themselves, instead of waiting on a publisher. No prima donnas here. And we LOVE the creative self-promoter. Can’t afford an outside PR team? NO issue — we had one client who handmade a ton of SWAG and even found a way to get college students to help with a trailer project.  So basically, if you sign with us, we expect you to be a fully engaged member of our dynamic team and to be willing to dig deep and work hard.

 

What’s on your manuscript wish list?

Super tough question. I try sometimes to send out #MSWL ideas just to keep juices flowing, but the truth is I am open to ANYTHING! I never read much historical fiction as a child and now I have a ton on my list. Who knew? But these books were so special I was honored to represent them. Same with nonfiction. I didn’t always flock to that, and now not only do I have a bunch on my list but our children’s nonfiction biographies are winning awards left and right. So in the end, I go back to the author and instead ask THEM what’s on THEIR wish list – tell me something interesting. Hold my attention with strong voices and solid plot – and then you have me.

 

If you think you have a manuscript that might be right for Liza, you can query her for the month of February at liza@lizaroyce.com

 

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Website: www.lizaroyce.com