How long have you been agent and how did you get your start Paul ?
I began my publishing career as in intern for the Aaron Priest Agency. I worked my way up to assistant for Molly Friedrich and I've been with her ever since. I technically started agenting in 2000, while I was still a full time assistant. That's when I discovered Leif Enger's PEACE LIKE A RIVER and Edgar Award winner, Megan Abbott. Molly subsequently opened her own agency in 2006 where I joined her as a full fledged agent and foreign rights manger.
What makes your agency different than any others?
While we're small in size-- we're a three person operation-- we pride ourselves in really taking care of the writers. We don't have a lot of celebrity writers, at least not those that are celebrities first. We do have a lot who were writers first, that went on to become celebrities, like Terry McMillan, Sue Grafton and Frank McCourt to name a few. Our relationship to the client really is an all-encompassing one. We're not just there at the sale, we're present for the author's entire publishing experience. But, we're the opposite of corporate–our authors don't get lost in the fray. Everyone does feel completely taken care of.
What are you looking for specifically that you wish you would see more of?
I'd love to see more non-fiction that's funny and well-written. I really like to learn new things about topics in history, current events, pop-culture---but with a humorous slant. Though, funny is probably the hardest thing to pull off. I'm also always a sucker for well-written historical fiction. Something that takes a lesser known footnote from history and imagines a whole universe around it.
Paul what are you tired of receiving?
Books that are poorly written! Books about ancient societies and uncovered texts that are poorly written.
How can a new writer get your attention in a good way?
By having some short-stories published in literary magazines or by writing for blogs. The more they're out there as writers the better. This business of writing is no longer a solitary one. Writers have to be marketing conscious and pro-active.
How can a signed writer stay in your radar without driving you insane?
By being respectful of my weekends and by effectively communicating their needs, so that the professional relationship is always strong.
What do you wish more writers understood about you as an agent Paul that they don't seem to?
That we don't get paid for the reading and evaluating of writers before we take them on. If we take the time to write a personal response ---and our agency has a great reputation of doing that–and it's a no, they really need to respect that it was a no and leave it at that.
What's the best way for a writer to reach you?
Email is best. I read everything on my kindle these days. My back muscles are very happy.