Coffee & Conversation with Vicki Selvaggio

Our series of pre-Team SCBWI in MD/DE/WV Conference faculty interviews continues! Missed our first two? No worries, mate, just click on these links. And don’t forget that critiques are due on February 12th! #nagnagnag

  • Ava Jae, writer and Assistant Editor at Entangled Publishing
  • Stephen Barbara, agent with InkWell Management Literary Agency
  • Laura Shovan, author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

VictoriaToday we have Victoria A. Selvaggio, Associate Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency joining us for some coffee and conversation!

With a strong background in business ownership, Victoria came to JDLA as an Associate Agent with over 7 years of actively working as a volunteer and Regional Advisor for SCBWI: Northern Ohio.  Drawn to the publishing scene first as an Author writing all genres, with her most recent publication in the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, Vicki’s passion for honing the craft carried over into reading manuscripts for the agency. Currently, she is excited to read compelling manuscripts that will resonate with her long after she’s done.

Be sure to check her out on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and her website! On Saturday, Victoria will be speaking about …

Composing the Query Letter 

As an Associate Agent, receiving hundreds of queries a week, not to mention the many authors and potential authors she encounters, Victoria A.Selvaggio has learned that the mention of writing a query letter is something that brings forth many different reactions.  Some love it…some dread it…some don’t understand it—its purpose.

While mastering the art of writing that well-polished manuscript takes time and skill, so does composing the query letter. Join Victoria as she covers the essentials of a query, in which she’ll include a few do’s and don’ts. This presentation will also include, as time allows, a bit about The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency and Victoria—her protocol on reviewing queries vs manuscripts, what she looks for in submissions, partial vs full manuscript requests, and Victoria’s overall agent goals.

On Sunday, she will be giving a session on…

Evaluating your Manuscript

As an Associate Agent and Author, Victoria Selvaggio knows firsthand that finding representation can be as hard as or even harder than becoming published. But…there are many things a writer can do to push their manuscript(s) to the next level. From reviewing your manuscript like an agent (pacing, tension/suspense, dialogue, voice, world building, plot/plot summary, characters, marketability, etc.) to reviewing your manuscript as the reader (I can’t put this down!), you’ll learn some quick tips on how you can look at your manuscript, while asking yourself  “Would I represent this, and why?” This presentation will also include, as time allows, a bit about The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency and Victoria—her protocol on reviewing queries vs. manuscripts, what she looks for in submissions, partial vs. full manuscript requests, and Victoria’s overall agent goals.

And now that she’s settled in with her favorite coffeehouse beverage, Diet Coke, (she’s not a big coffeehouse visitor,) welcome, Victoria! Care for a snack? 

I don’t really snack (I know…doesn’t frequent coffeehouses and doesn’t snack—that’s no fun!). Honestly, in October (2015) I started a strict diet and exercise regimen, and as I’m the one who used to eat dessert before dinner, it’s interesting to note that I don’t miss the junk as much as I thought I would. I think it has to do with the exercise—it has taken a long time to become stronger and those “hard” days, where I had to really push myself to follow through on the exercise and eating healthy, reminds me to stay on task now.

I do, still, allow myself one dessert a day, which must be something sweet. My favorite dessert is brownies—I’ll run an extra mile, if I know my mother-in-law is making her homemade brownies (I honestly can’t resist them).

Cool, you run? There’s a topic we can chat about later. For now, though, what was your favorite book as a child and/or adult?

While this is hard to answer as I’m constantly falling in love with one book after another, I’ll share books from my childhood. These stories remain vivid in my memory as if I’ve read them yesterday…they’ve encouraged me and set me on my own writing path.

teeeTHE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein – As a child I loved this story. As an adult and parent, I understand it completely. I have yet to read it without having a sense of empathy wash over me—this story brings me to tears.

summerA SUMMER TO DIE by Lois Lowry—Having an older sister, this story opened my eyes on how quickly life can change. I did (and still do) argue with my sister…and yes back then, I wanted to draw my own line many times. But, no line would ever stop my sister from being my sister. Back then and now, I am truly blessed!

DoloriesDOLORES CLAIBORNE by Stephen King—Stephen King influenced my path as an author…He encouraged me to find my own voice—to continue pushing until I reached my own goals and beyond. I’ve read almost everything he’s penned (that’s in print). THE TALISMAN, PET SEMATARY, CUJO, CHRISTINE, IT…I could go on. While I absolutely CAN’T pick a favorite, I’ve listed DOLORES CLAIBORNE—it is the perfect example to show how a story can work without (or limited) dialogue. It shows that mastering the art of writing is a skill and if perfected correctly, regardless how one portrays a story, a reader will fall in love! 

You magically find a $100.00 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it? (Key word: Frivolous!)

I tend to be quite conservative, so this is really hard to answer. 😉 As a wife and mother, I usually spend my extra money on my children and husband. Spending “just” on me…without any worries…I think I would get a manicure and/or pedicure. While it’s not frivolous, it’s something I’ve never done. And not many would know this about me, as I tend to be quite girly, at times.

You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read!  Your glasses are fine (whew!) so what’s the first book you crack open? 

I would love this! And that setting would be right up my alley. As I’m constantly reading, and making time to read, I would love having the extra time to write. Being an author myself, I certainly do not devote enough time each week for my own projects. And as all writers know, devoting time to your writing is important.

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now? 

I’m quite determined, so I did it. Starting and operating my own business was an important goal that I set for myself.

For one day, time travel is a reality and you can visit any famous deceased author you want.  Who do you pick?

Edgar Allan Poe.

What’s your favorite motivational quote?

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

– Harriet Tubman

If you could sum up your best marketing advice for new writers or illustrators in only four words, what would it be?

Originality, Characterization, Marketability, and Résumé.

Thanks again and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

And I’m looking forward to this as well! Thank you.

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About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, and blogger at As The Eraser Burns, Joyful Miles, and Write, Run, Rejoice. In the past, she's been a waitress, telemarketer, cook, real estate agent, and during her college days, a costumed character at holiday parades. (Memories of being terrorized as a candy cane still haunt her at night.) At the age of thirty, she pursued her dream of being a writer. Her first novel, Beauty Shop for Rent, a “Steel Magnolias for teens,” was inspired by a rusted sign by a charming old house, and now, she can honestly say that writing is a thousand times more rewarding than being a candy cane!
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6 Responses to Coffee & Conversation with Vicki Selvaggio

  1. mikecrowl says:

    I’m really looking forward to this presentation. I love the time travel to visit Edgar is pretty cool, too. T-minus 43 days, I think. Never do math in public!

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