Friday, April 9, 2010

Interview with an Agent: Kate Epstein

And here’s another agent interview to finish off Recommendation Week. (If you haven’t already noticed, I recommend every agent I interview, or ever will interview. The way I see it, if they say yes to the interview, they must be fabulous!) This one features Kate Epstein of The Epstein Literary Agency. See you on the other side.

KV: How did you get into agenting?

KE: I hung out my shingle! I was an editor for some years and I decided I needed a change. It’s been great.

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

KE: I expect to provide advice and advocacy. I expect clients to listen to my advice even if they don’t follow it. Most of my agent/author relationships are both warm and professional--but professional alone will do, if that’s what’s best for the author. I expect a long term relationship, but I expect that to come from my doing a good job (and the author’s ongoing need--there’s nothing wrong with only having one book in you). I’d rather have too much information about how things are going than not enough. I expect my clients to be awesome--and I expect to enjoy telling them that they are.

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

KE: HOME STAGING THAT WORKS by Starr Osborne (Amacom) is a recent release. Starr is professional who sees the book as an enhancement to her business, and she’s putting every ounce of herself into promoting the book. It doesn’t hurt, either, that home staging is a fascinating phenomenon--speaking as it does as to how we live and how we want to imagine we live.

AN EAGLE NAMED FREEDOM by Jeffery Guidry (William Morrow) releases in May. It’s a striking and inspirational story of a man and an eagle. It has a beautiful message and it’s the kind of book you can buy for just about anybody in your life. (Unless she has a bird phobia.)

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

KE: I represent fiction for young adults and nonfiction for adults and for young adults. I don’t do any other fiction, and I don’t do poetry or screenplays.

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

KE: The biggest thing is not reading the directions on my website. I can overlook most things that aren’t listed there.

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

KE: You know it when you see it! For fiction I want something that’s both fresh and fantastic--a good concept but also terrific execution. For nonfiction I’ve been having a fair amount of luck with craft books lately. What I’d really like to do that I see virtually none of is nonfiction books that explore a topic or make an argument that are based primarily on research or investigative journalism. Such books have to be accessible to interest me, but I do read a lot of them.

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

KE: E-mail. If you’re querying via snail mail, there really should be a very good reason--such as you’re in prison. Writers need a certain level of technical proficiency; it’s just a part of the job.

Thanks, Ms. Epstein, for these responses. And for those of you who decide to query, don’t forget to check out her submission guidelines. Nothing too unexpected there, but I figure if you’re reading this interview, you want your query to be as perfect as it can be.

Have a jolly weekend, all!


Matthew Rush said...

Thanks for posting the interview Krista (and Kate for giving it). Agent's websites are great for getting the basics, but it's always nice to get a little more detail about who they are and how they handle things/what they're looking for.

I look forward to querying Kate one day with my YA MS if I can ever edit it down to a reasonable length.

Shameless promotion for all your other reader/followers:

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This one is pure query/submission gold folks in which she shares the ACTUAL query that landed her an agent and the correspondence that ensued.

Please stop by to read, comment and follow.


Kelly Bryson said...

Thanks for the interview. I'm left wondering if my book is YA or not, since my MC is stuck at seventeen via eternal (non vampiric) youth, but the love interest is an adult FBI agent. (In a way she's older, but in other ways, not. Hmmm.)

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks, Krista!

Krista V. said...

Yeah, Matthew, I've said it a few times, but I'll say it again: These interviews have been really helpful in letting the agents' voices come out. My favorite line from this interview: "If you're querying via snail mail, there really should be a very good reason - such as you're in prison." :)

Kelly, that does sound like a bit of a conundrum. Could you hash it out with your betas?

Myrna, you're welcome!

KLM said...

All these agents you've interviewed have been so nice and so... dare I say it... human. (Who knew?) I can't help but wonder if you've approached some who've turned you down for interviews. I'm sure you must have hit upon some who are *reticent* about doing an intereview. But I know you are too nice to tell us the dirt! Aw. shucks.

Krista V. said...

Oh, KLM, you wily one. Yeah, some agents have turned me down - or rather, never e-mailed me back - but yeah, you'll never squeeze their names out of me:)