Do you automatically reject a query if the author does not have a college degree?
No. I don’t know of any agency who would. Unless you’re an expert writing nonfiction on a subject that would require a degree of some sort, I don’t care if you’ve never been to school.
Is “mainstream literary fiction” an appropriate term/genre to describe a novel in a query letter? I’m getting ready to submit a book that doesn’t fit easily into either category. Bret Easton Ellis would be an example of an author that writes this type of fiction.
Yes, mainstream literary fiction is fine.
Do you work with authors from other countries?
Absolutely! We don’t care where you’re from, only that you’ve written a good book. We have authors from all over the world.
I have two nonfiction books published (under my married name) and am now working on a novel. I may be taking back my maiden name in the future and am wondering if pursuing publication using a different last name will affect the career I hope I can have as a novelist.
Since nonfiction and fiction are two different markets, it shouldn’t matter at all which name you publish under. Of course, there’s always an “it depends,” in this case based on what kind of nonfiction you wrote (memoir, for example) or how successful your nonfiction was, but ultimately writing under two different names should be fine.
When an agent requests pages, are they referring to the physical pages in a word document, or is the referring to 250-word pages?
I assume you mean page count. These days I think you can go by the word count in your Word document. However, if you feel more comfortable with the 250-word per page count, go with that. Honestly, it doesn’t make that much of a difference to the agent. If you mean how many actual pages, the agent will look at the number on the bottom of the Word document, so go with that.