Today’s interview features Sarah LaPolla of the uber-awesome Curtis Brown, Ltd. She’s the newest agent over there, and another recent addition to my own to-query list. Happy reading!
KV: How did you get into agenting?
SL: I interned with two agencies while I was in grad school. Sadly, those internships were unpaid, but by the time I finished my MFA, I knew I wanted to continue in that field. So when a friend told me about a job opening in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., I applied and was hired. I’ve been with Curtis Brown ever since and am now building a list of my own.
KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
SL: I hope to create a healthy balance of friendship and professionalism with my authors. I like to be hands-on in the revision process, so being able to converse freely and comfortably with each other, while respecting each others’ opinions and wishes, is important.
KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
SL: Since I am a new agent, I do not have any client work coming out soon. However, I am currently reading a paranormal mystery, literary short story collection, and a couple of “dark” young adult novels that I am pretty excited about.
KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
SL: I’m looking for literary fiction, young adult, urban fantasy, narrative nonfiction, and anything that can be called quirky, speculative, or magical realism. I definitely do not represent picture books, self-help books, or romance.
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
SL: Improper grammar and misspelled words are huge pet peeves. Seeing mistakes like that make me question the person’s ability as a writer.
KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?
SL: I would love to see some strong female protagonists, especially in YA. I also look for multi-faceted characters. I like being surprised by the people I’m reading about.
KV: What’s the best way to query you?
SL: E-mail is best. Query me at email@example.com. Include the query letter in the body of the e-mail--no attachments please.
KV: How do you feel about a writer’s including a few sample pages at the bottom of the query? Do you find that more assertive or obnoxious?
SL: I’m fine with a few sample pages, as long as they’re from the first chapter. Sometimes it is helpful to have a sense of a person’s writing if I’m torn over the actual query. But, I should add that if I’m undecided about a query, I’ll usually request the pages anyway.
Thanks again, Ms. LaPolla, for these responses. And for those of you planning to query, be sure to check out her blog. In fact, even if you’re not planning to query right away, definitely give Glass Cases a look-see, as it’s an excellent resource for writers seeking online publication.
Happy Thursday, everyone!