GumboWriters Interview with Literary Agent, Roberta Brown from Brown Literary Agency
ROBERTA BROWN FROM BROWN LITERARY AGENCY
How long have you been an agent and how did you get your start Roberta? I've been an agent for thirteen years, and have loved every minute of reviewing manuscripts and finding new talent. I get as excited as my authors when someone sells to New York. I've always had a great love of books, and agenting seemed a natural and enjoyable career.
What makes your agency different from any others? I have a Boutique Agency, meaning I specialize in romance (all genres), women's fiction, and erotica. I represent what I love to read.
What are you looking for specifically that you wish you would see more of? Book-to-film, I recently sold author Jo Davis's erotic thriller, WHEN ALEX WAS BAD, to Mandalay Universal. ALEX is both erotic and suspenseful, and likened to FATAL ATTRACTION in tone. I love when authors are daring, cross genres, and become trendsetters. I like reading beyond the norm. I enjoy books that really push the envelope, yet are marketable. Authors need to think block buster and commercial when writing their novels. Texture, layer, and show me great secondary characters. Keep the dialogue natural, and draw out the conflict.
Roberta what are you tired of receiving? I don't read futuristics anymore. I like the genre, but they are a hard sell.
How can a new writer get your attention in a good way? Query letters tell a lot about an author. I want them no longer than one page, and concise. I like to see enthusiasm and writing strengths in the query, without it being too silly or egotistical. Tell me 'why' you loved writing this book. Was your heartbeat in the story?
How can a signed writer stay in your radar without driving you insane? All the authors I presently represent are wonderfully professional. Their goals are to write amazing books and hit the LISTS. I have a very open-door policy, I answer emails and phone calls from my authors 24/7. Not one of my writers has ever bothered me unnecessarily.
What do you wish more writers understood about you as an agent Roberta that they don't seem to? Perhaps the fact when I decline on a project it doesn't mean the writing or plot was bad. The story just didn't work for me. In this business, it's selection over rejection - always keep that in mind. What doesn't work for my agency, could easily work for another agent or editor.
In 2004 I was broke, I was depressed and I was confused about my life. I had this crazy idea that I could write a novel, self-publish it and somehow win a million to one odds to have it picked up by a major publisher. I was down to my last few coins, my last packet of Ramen Noodles and trying to choose between riding the bus or buying another packet of Ramen Noodles. But I decided to go for it anyway.
I wrote the novel, based on a screenplay that had already been rejected numerous times by Hollywood, called Forever My Lady. I took my last few bucks printed off as many copies as I could and set out to promote the book the only way I could afford, online.
Trial and error, I was going to succeed even if that meant "failing my way to the top". It worked. Soon, I had over 8000 people that had read Forever My Lady either online or in print, I landed an agent and within 7 days I had an offer from Warner Books/Grand Central Publishing.
This is my story. This is my way of giving back. If you're struggling wondering what to do next, how to promote your book, whether to publish or self-publish, wondering how to land an agent, this website is for you.
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