Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More Q&A with Michelle Grajkowksi

Hooray! We have more Q&A with Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency!

1) What do you feel an agent’s role should be with respect to career planning?

Career planning is essential. I work with my clients to make sure that every sale that we are making will benefit not just their short term career, but most importantly, will help us meet their long term goals. In fact, a few of my authors have turned down deals that may have looked wonderful today, but would not have been the best move for them five years down the road. As an author, you should always be looking into the future.

My authors and I also evaluate the types of books they are writing to make sure that it makes the most sense for them from a career standpoint. For example, if a client is targeting Desire, and as stockpile of Desires in the que and is ready to work on her next proposal, we figure out what makes sense. Is she close to selling to Desire? Should she continue on that route? Or, would it make sense to step out of her comfort zone and to try something she's always wanted, like romantic suspense. Sometimes an author finds that their voice really fits better with a different subgenre. I try to help them figure that out.

Finally, my best advice is to communicate with your agent - what are your long term goals. How do you want to achieve them? Your agent is on your team. Share your gameplan with her so she can help you reach your potential.

2) What do you look for in a potential client (besides being a great writer, of course!)?

I'm always looking for a fresh voice. In this tight, competitive market, an author with a unique voice is golden.

But, I'm also looking for smart, savvy businesspeople. Writing is a business. So, authors really need to focus on the business of writing. I don't expect my authors to know everything there is about publishing, contracts, etc. But, a basic business understanding - knowing when to turn away from a deal, setting realistic goals, performing for the long haul - is key.

Finally, I'm looking for wonderful people! I like to surround myself with authors who are fun and easy to work with. My authors are all fantastic people - and the editors notice! I've had people comment on how great my stable is. I'm so proud of each and every one of them!

3) How do you feel about author self-promotion?

In this market, self-promotion is key! Coming up with a unique marketing plan is essential. The PR departments in publishing are pretty fluid - there is quite a bit of turnover. So, by working to build your name, you are helping the publishers and they will be more willing in turn to help you promote. It's important to tell your editor what you are doing to promote your work and to build your name. By doing so, you are showing that your career is very important to you.

4) What do you like to hear in a pitch session at a conference?

My favorite pitches are short and direct. I like it when an author comes in, introduces herself and says, "I write romantic comedy, and I have one ready to submit and am working on the follow-up." Then we discuss the hook of her project. At this point, the plot and the conflicts aren't important - I just want to know why I should read the proposal. What makes the project stand-out? What makes it different?

My most memorable pitches come from authors who approach the session as an interview. I like to find out information about them - what is their day job? How long have they been writing? Where do they want to be in five years? The story is important, but in this case, I really want to get a feel for the author - what does she bring to the table?

I'm fortunate enough now to have a wonderful core group of authors. The pitch session to me is a way to see how the author communicates and if she is someone I think I can see working with in the future. Often times I run back to the office and pull a manuscript out from someone I just met and really want to love it because I want to work with that person.

Well, that's it for this week's Agent Q&A. Be sure and send in your questions for next week! And stay tuned for Q&A with vampire author Kerrelyn Sparks this Friday!!


At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Stephanie Feagan said...

More good info! Thanks, Michelle!

I have great admiration for agents, and sometimes, I can almost imagine what it's like, looking through submissions, hoping to be bowled over.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger Shelley Munro said...

Thanks for the great interview. Lots of interesting info.

I have a question - what do you look for in a submission from an author that is already published? i.e. would you prefer to see a proposal or the full manuscript? Also, in your opinion, is it best for an author to concentrate on one particular genre? Does writing in more than one genre hinder a writer's progress?


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