Thursday, March 4, 2010

Interview with an Agent: Andrea Somberg

Here’s another interview with another awesome agent, Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc. Happy reading.

KV: How did you get into agenting?

AS: I've always loved to read, and so I thought publishing might be a good fit. At the time I thought everyone in the industry just sat around reading books all day--what could be more perfect than that?! Turns out the reality is quite a bit different, but, regardless, I still love my job. In college I had an internship with the Don Maass Agency during one summer, and I realized that agenting was the right career choice for me. I was an agent there for a few years after graduation, before becoming an agent at Vigliano Associates. I joined Harvey Klinger Inc. in the summer of '05.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

AS: As far as my personal agenting philosophy goes, persistence is huge. It's such a subjective industry, one of the most important things is matching a book up with an editor who really believes in it, and will champion it in-house. Sometimes that means going to 40+ imprints and publishing houses.

As for the agent-author relationship, communication is really important. I like to know that my client and I are on the same page, and that I have a full understanding of what they want, both for their book, and their career.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

AS: My client, Rachel Keener's second novel, THE MEMORY THIEF, will hit the shelves this March. It's a beautiful novel about two very unique women trying to find each other, and of the power and strength of family. It was Rachel's writing that definitely grabbed me at first--THE KILLING TREE is one of the only books that has ever made me cry--but Rachel, herself is amazing. She is one of the sweetest, most talented, people I've ever met. Actually, if you have a book group and are looking for a new selection, I highly suggest you contact her--her website is, and includes her contact information. She really likes to talk to book groups, and if you're not in her area (she lives in North Carolina), she'll call in on speakerphone.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

AS: I'm actively seeking both fiction and non-fiction, including literary, commercial, young adult, middle grade, genre (romance, mystery, sf/fantasy), memoir, pop-culture, how-to, self-help, humor, interior design, cookbooks, business, and health & fitness.

I do not represent picture books.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

AS: I get over 50 queries a day, and sometimes it takes me a week or so to respond. Sometimes authors will follow up within the very same day to see if I've received their e-mail. Unfortunately, that just adds to the e-mail clogging my inbox, which means it will take me even longer to respond to the initial query.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?

AS: For non-fiction I'm looking for good writing and an idea that fills a hole in the marketplace. For fiction, so much of it is about voice. Does the writing draw me in? Am I engaged? Do I find the main characters to be sympathetic, compelling protagonists?

KV: What's the best way to query you?

AS: Send an e-mail to me at Include a query letter and the first five pages of the manuscript within the body of an e-mail.

Thanks again, Ms. Somberg, for all of this helpful information. As you can see, she’s truly a Renaissance agent, with her fingers in a lot of books, so I’m sure a lot of you will have projects that match her interests.

Queries away, suggestions below!


bclement412 said...

AWESOME interview! These interviews are so helpful to people looking to query =D

Myrna Foster said...

Thank you! I'll tuck this away for when I'm done with revisions.

I love that Ms. Somberg started out at Don Maas Agency. He writes wonderful writing books.

Kelly Bryson said...

Another great agent. Thanks for the interview. She sounds like someone I'd like to work with. Now to write something that makes me sound like someone she would like to work with!

roxy said...

Andrea gave me one of the best rejections I have ever received. She was very kind and insightful. I learned a lot from her.

52 Faces said...

Thanks for this!

Great to meet you off Natalie's site.

Man I wish I were on your insurance plans - I could SO rock the no sweets bonus!

Anonymous said...

it must have been really cool

Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

Myrna, I agree: Donald Maass's books are fantastic.

Roxy, hooray for helpful rejections!

52 Faces, nice to meet you, too:) And yeah, I actually LIKE my insurance company.

Everyone else, thanks for dropping in - and for the comments!

Holly said...

Wow, Krista, thanks for setting up this great interview. I will definitely query Andrea when my novel is ready.

Krista V. (the former Krista G.) said...

Holly, I'm glad this one was helpful to you.

And just as a note to everyone, I recently finished Rachel Keener's THE KILLING TREE, and it was a beautiful story, and beautifully written. Ms. Somberg definitely represents some quality work.