by Daisy Willis
Sara D'Emic is an Associate Agent with Talcott Notch Literary and is actively extending her client base. She will be taking pitches at this year'sWrite Stuff conference and is interested in adult or YA mainstream fiction, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, mystery, and any and all sub genres of those categories.
GLVWG member Daisy Willis got in touch with Sara to ask her some questions.
Have you always wanted to be an agent? Have you ever been a writer?
It's the other way around: I've always wanted to be a writer, and I didn't seek out agenting specifically. I always wanted to work with authors and their books, so when the opportunity to become an agent came I took it. I still write in my spare time.
How have your internships prepared you for your career as a literary agent?
My first internship was reading the slush pile for a literary magazine, at my second I edited a manuscript. Both helped me develop a critical eye and a business sense.
As a relatively new agent, how do you build a great client base?
With less clients I have more time to spend on reading submissions and editing, and so I can find authors who might otherwise get skipped over. Plus I mostly attract authors who are just starting their careers, who have a lot of books in them.
What have you sold recently that you're excited about?
To sort of twist the question, there is a sequel in the works for R.F. Sharp's No Regrets, No Remorse which I'm very excited about. Because I love working with series. You connected with certain characters and their world and it's so fun to revisit them. I didn't sell the original but came on to negotiate Sharp's contract which I'm glad for since I love his work. He always has a classic hard-boiled tone with an unorthodox cast.
What do you wish you would find right now in your submissions?
An awesome fantasy, adult or YA. I also want, and this is a little abstract, stories with morally ambiguous, conflicted, or anti-heroic characters.
What really catches your attention in a query letter (good or bad)?
In a good query it's something that makes me really want to read the book. It's the same feeling you get when you start a good mystery: you know enough to be intrigued and are curious enough to continue. On the other end of the scale, usually when someone is trying to get my attention it ends up being bad. Just because I remember it doesn't mean I'll represent it. The worst are queries with that informercial feel: "this book will sell a centillion copies, but wait there's more, my mom said she loved it."
What are the benefits for writers going to a boutique agency like Talcott Notch Literary?
We give the same level of service as the big agencies! I'd say we're more willing to work with new writers; a lot of what we do is going through the slush pile. We also work as more of a team, so you're not just getting one individual's expertise.
Best piece of advice for writers?
Do research, use social media for it, google everything. A lot of people shoot themselves in the foot at the query stage because they don't know what to do or who to query or even what an agent does. There are ins and outs and facets of publishing in general that authors should know about to make the best career decision. For example, most people realize self-publishing is an option but don't know how to be successful at it, or if their work is better suited for a traditional deal or not. A novella about a talking cuttlefish told partially in iambic pentameter won't sell to the Big Six, but that doesn't mean it won't do well on the kindle store. There's no shortage of information about publishing, and you'll only help yourself by seeking it out.