Happy Friday, all! Today’s INTERACTIVE interview features Barbara Galletly of Georges Borchardt, Inc. Details on the interactive part are on the other side. Enjoy the interview, and then I’ll meet you at the bottom.
KV: How did you get into agenting?
BG: I heard about a job (at Georges Borchardt, Inc., where I still work) from a friend, working with a couple of French publishers (I studied French and translation in college) and a lot of authors I had read in college and was totally in love with, and--I can't remember this, but according to my boss--I gave an impassioned speech during which I declared that advocating for the kind of daring and serious books my agency represents was all I really wanted to do. I have always been a reader, and a hugely judgmental one at that, and I seem to have rather luckily stumbled into a job where my opinion means something.
KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
BG: I guess it would still be the same as it was in the beginning. I think my job as an agent is to stand up for authors brave enough to write daring stories, to offer explanations that make us think as much as they give us facts. There's a lot of great writing, but I want to represent those books that aim to challenge the status quo and disrupt the way we might be drawn into thinking about it. Whether it's fiction or non-fiction, I think this is the kind of book that is most important. Publishers aren't always eager to take on projects that aren't easy, and that's what I'm here to try to change. Of course an agent's job is also to protect her author's rights before and after a contract is signed.
KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
BG: I co-agented something over the summer that I'm very excited about--it's a novel called LAMB by Bonnie Nadzam, which Kate Johnson and I sold to Judith Gurewitsch at Other Press. This is a really beautifully told story about a man who does something terrible to a young girl, but the author is able to get the reader to empathize with this man.
KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
BG: Literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, works in translation. No commercial/genre fiction or self-help, diet, business books.
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
BG: I don't like getting mass e-mail submissions! Especially when I can see the names of the other agents and their e-mail addresses…
KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?
BG: I think it's important that a manuscript comes with an author who is dedicated to building a personal platform, who has more than one project in them and is looking for a career as a writer.
KV: What's the best way to query you?
BG: I know it's a pain, but if a letter or e-mail is addressed specifically to me, I'm much more impressed.
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?
BG: I am happy to ask for the amount of material I would like to read (I will usually ask for three chapters if I’m interested). But if the text is already there, it does make life easy. So really, I think it depends on the query and it’s fine either way.
Thanks, Ms. Galletly, for these responses. I was particularly drawn to your statement about wanting to represent books that challenge the status quo. I suspect that will resonate with a lot of us.
All right, now for the fun part:) You know the drill: Leave a question in the comments, and Ms. Galletly will answer it sometime in the next little while. This is a one-day-only event, so I’ll be cutting questions off at midnight PDT. But in the meantime, have at it!