LitChat Interview: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, Foreword Literary

by Tee Tate

LITCHAT copyPam van Hylckama Vlieg started her literary career as assistant to Laurie McLean, of headshotpamForeword Literary Agency, in early 2012. By April Pam was promoted to Associate Agent. In her first two years as an agent, Pam brokered 24 deals, with such publishers as Knopf, Scholastic, NAL, ACE, Grand Central, and others.

She joined D4EO in June 2014, where she will continue to build her list. She has a passion for genre fiction as well as MG, YA, and New adult fiction.

Pam blogs at and

Pam grew up on a sleepy little Podunk town in Virginia. She’s lived in the UK, several US states, and now resides in the Bay Area of California. She has two kids, four dogs, a cat bent on world domination and an albino hedgehog. You can find her mostly on Twitter where she wastes copious amounts of time.

To query please send a query, 1-2 page synopsis, and the first chapter of your manuscript / entire picture book (no attachments) to

Pam is interested in the following genres:

Picture books that are fun and quirky. Pam’s recent favorites are: The Day the Crayons Quit, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, and Extra Yarn.

Chapter Books in all genres. Pam’s recent favorites are: Ivy and Bean, Clementine, Nancy Clancy, Fortunately, the Milk, and The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.

High concept young adult. Some of Pam’s favorite recent YA books are: The Masque of the Red Death, Cinder, Shadow and Bone, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Small Damages, and Insignia.

Middle grade in these genres: fantasy, contemporary, literary. Pam’s recent favorite MG books are: The Peculiar, The Emerald Atlas, Storybound, The Prince Who Fell from the Sky, and Icefall.

Romance in all categories except suspense, scifi, and erotica. Pam’s favorite romance titles released recently are: Loving Lady Marcia, Be My Prince, Rogue’s Pawn, and The Siren.

Genre fiction: urban fantasy, paranormal, and epic/high fantasy.

Pop culture nonfiction and adult picture books. Think The Geek’s Guide to Dating and I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats.


LS: Did your decision to go into publishing stem from a love of books as a child? What was your favorite book when you were growing up?

I had no idea you could just work in books. I suppose as a child I thought they just magically happened. As soon as I had an understanding of what went into making books I knew that agenting was for me. I was always book bullying my friends into reading certain things. My most favorite book growing up was Little Women.

LS: How has your marketing background enabled you to help your clients?

I think it helps us come up with great ideas we can implement at Foreword for the client that supplements what the house is already doing.

LS: Your site, Bookalicious, is immensely popular and many authors would love to be reviewed by you. How important do you think reviews are to readers and what makes an author’s work stand out enough to warrant a review?

I rarely review anymore but I do have a staff there that loves to review! The process at Bookalicious is very subjective. We don’t care if you’re self published, small press, or big six, your plot just has to appeal to one of the reviewers.

LS: How important is branding and a large platform for new authors?

You know. I’m supposed to say IT IS SO IMPORTANT OMG IF YOU’RE NOT ON THE TWITTERZ YOU ARE DEAD TO ME. But how I really feel is that I don’t care. My huge MG book A BETTER KIND OF TRUTH which I’ve just been told is going to be a lead title at Scholastic in early 2015 sold with the author not even being on Twitter or any other platform. It can’t hurt to have it, but it won’t help if the story isn’t there.

LS: How has being an author yourself helped you when dealing with your clients?

I know how they feel! My picture book is on submission right now with my agent and I’m trying not to email her every day.

LS: Are you an editorial agent and what’s that process like?

I am an editorial agent. That means you’ll get a revision letter (or three) from me before we go out with your book. It’s a super long process but it helps me put your best foot forward.

LS: What questions should writers ask their potential agents prior to signing with them?

I think the most important questions are making sure that the agent is legit (lots of people hang up a shingle and call themselves agents when they only submit to digital only imprints for example) and making sure they’re a fit for you. Where have you sold books to? Are you editorial? How do you like to communicate?

LS: Many writers seem eager to query before their manuscripts are ready. What are the top five elements you believe writers should assure their manuscript have before querying?

  • Use spellcheck.
  • Have a beta reader (or four) read your novel.
  • Do your research on how to write a query.
  • Do your research on the agent. Have they sold books that make you think they’ll like yours.
  • Follow submission guidelines.

 LS: How has the e-reader and self-publishing changed the industry and do you think this is a change that we will see impacting the future of publishing?

I still think everyone is figuring that out and I don’t think print is dead.

LS: Finish this sentence if you would: “I’d love to represent the next______.”

Harry Potter! I know it’s a lame answer but I want a book that will make children feel that way.

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