KV: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?
LE: I’ve been agenting since last Fall (2011) and had been reading manuscripts for other agents for two years prior to that. I’d always been a huge reader and writer but life took me in a number of other directions for a number of reasons. I realized a few years ago that if I really wanted a career in publishing, which had been my dream when I first got out of college, that now was the time. So I went for it!
I’ve added up my years of being a freelance writer and editor with some work in a bookstore plus a few years of being the oldest unpaid intern in
KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
LE: I’m very hands-on and very communicative. My clients know I’m going to be poking and prodding at their manuscripts, reading it many times, editing, line editing, questioning them. And also, they know they can count on me to give them the truth. So if I think something isn’t working I’ll let them know.
I also keep them apprised of what’s going on when I’m submitting their manuscripts to editors, every step of the way. They know they can count on me for emotional support, hand holding, and bad jokes. They also know they can call or e-mail me any time and they’ll hear back from me right away. I guess my agenting philosophy is we’re in this together, we’re a team.
KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
LE: As a new agent I don’t have a long list of books to brag about. Yet! But I’m delighted to say I have a fantastic YA book coming out in Summer 2013 called OPENLY STRAIGHT (Arthur A. Levine) by Lambda Award winning author Bill Konigsberg.
The first thing that drew me to work with Bill is his incredible mastery of voice. Bill captures an authentic teen voice like nobody’s business. He’s just such a talented writer. Then he spins his story with humor, introspection, and poignancy. And he writes dead-on funny dialogue. The icing on the cake for me is that this story features a gay main character, and I have a particular commitment to representing books that include, are about, or are geared toward people in the LGBT community.
KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
LE: I represent MG, YA and adult fiction and very select non-fiction. I’m mostly interested in literary fiction, upscale commercial fiction, anything with a feminist bent, fantasy, science fiction, steam punk, historical fiction, and LGBT fiction.
I’m not really interested in picture books, romance, thrillers, mysteries, horror, Western or Christian fiction.
KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
LE: Put it this way, if you don’t follow my submission guidelines I just delete the query. I also don’t care for it when people are either too smarmy or too cocky. Query letters are business letters. I want writers to give me the facts in a way that piques my interest. That’s it. Nothing tricky or weird.
Oh, and just because a writer reads my blog or is friends with me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter doesn’t mean they actually know me or are my real-life friend, so don’t be too familiar. That just feels creepy.
KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now? What are you tired of seeing at the moment?
LE: I’m looking for really good writing. I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas that are poorly executed, which is so disappointing. I’m looking for something really original; or even something unoriginal but told in a unique way!
I’m tired of getting queries for things I don’t represent and I don’t really need to see any more demons or magical amulets at the moment.
KV: What’s the best way to query you?
LE: Queries should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and put "Query" in the subject line of your email and the first twenty pages in the body of your e-mail. The query should include ea one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis. For non-fiction books, the entire proposal should be attached to the query as a Word document and should include a sample chapter.
Thanks again, Ms. Epstein, for these fantastic answers. I’m sure a lot of writers will relate to the roundabout path you took to agenting and appreciate your hands-on approach.
Good luck to all you queriers, and have a great weekend!