In the Spotlight: Agent & Editor Insights for Getting Published
By Lori Russell
This month, April Eberhardt, an associate agent with The Andrea Brown Literary Agency, shares her thoughts about platform, passion and persistence and what writers need to know when looking for an agent and/or a publisher for their work. The Andrea Brown Literary Agency is a mid-sized firm celebrating 25 years in the publishing industry. With six agents and offices in California and New York, the agency offers its clients the personal attention of a small firm and the clout of a larger one. Eberhardt particularly enjoys working with new and emerging fiction writers.
Each agent brings a unique background and set of skills to her work. How has your experience at a literary magazine and in careers in the banking and management consulting fields shaped your perspective as an agent?
My experience at literary magazines underscored how many new voices are out there deserving to be heard. It whetted my appetite to work primarily with new authors to help them get published. All those years of banking and management consulting shaped my business sense. I learned the importance of strategy, good project management and organization, along with professionalism and integrity. And of course the tenet that in business, including publishing, the trick is to balance creativity and marketing with achieving some financial success.
What types of projects are you and your agency currently looking to represent? Are you open to working with first-time authors?
We’re six different agents with six different tastes. Speaking for myself, I’m most interested in finding first-time authors with distinctive voices, fast-moving contemporary takes, smart female characters, and a wry-to-sardonic sense of telling tales. No mysteries, thrillers or murders. I don’t care much for romances, either, unless they’ve got an unusual twist. Nothing too lovey-dovey.
Non-fiction authors must have an expertise in their subject matter and need to develop a platform prior to pitching their book proposal.
What is important for fiction authors to consider before contacting an agent for a project?
- Does the agent represent what you write? Read the agency’s Web site before submitting.
- What else is out there that’s similar to what you’ve written? Do your market research and be prepared to say why yours is different.
- How are you prepared to help market your work? Platform is important in fiction, too, as is perseverance and passion for getting it out there. It’s essential for the agent, the author and the publisher to establish a creative marketing collaboration early on, to bring their best ideas and efforts to selling your work.
How important is the size and location of a literary agency when choosing an agent?
I believe it’s the quality and commitment of the agent, as well as a good match between your work and what she loves to represent, that matters most. Technology has made location moot, although having said that, developing a good working relationship always involves a face-to-face component at some point, whether it’s author-to-agent or agent-to-editor. We spend a lot of time building and cultivating relationships with our clients and with editors on both coasts, as well as around the world.
What do you believe writers most need to understand about the publishing industry and/or the writer/agent relationship?
The publishing industry is notoriously fickle—what sells today may not be hot tomorrow. That’s why an openness to tailoring and editing, as well as a creative marketing collaboration, are key. Please also understand that we as agents are inundated with queries—the volume is unbelievable, especially now that many of us accept online submissions—and that’s true for editors too. So if we don’t get right back to you, please don’t take it personally. We’ll be as speedy as humanly possible!
How would you like writers to contact you?
We will only accept queries via e-mail. Please see our bios on our Web site at www.andreabrownlit.com and choose only one agent to whom you will submit your e-query. Target the agent for whom you feel your work is the best fit and send a short e-mail query letter to that agent, along with the first 10 pages of your work. We do not open attachments, so the query must be in the body of your e-mail, and it should include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits, if applicable. Please put QUERY and the title of your work in the subject field of your e-mail.
Lori Russell is an award-winning writer who has had the pleasure to work with several great editors in her 17 years as a freelancer. She is a contributing editor to Columbia Gorge Magazine and has been a regular contributor to Ruralite for more than a decade. Her articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the country and her short fiction and poetry has been published in several journals and anthologies. Lori recently completed her first novel, Light on Windy River.