#37 – Per random.org, Cathy P. is our winner! Email me at email@example.com with your choice of format (ebook or print) and your address to claim your prize. Congratulations, and thanks so much to everyone who commented!!
I’d like to introduce you to my wacky, irreverent, completely amazing and wonderful agent, Barbara Poelle, from the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Barbara helped me to get me my start by selling my first books to Grand Central Publishing, and sometimes I like to think I helped her get her start, too (but I’m sure she would have been just fine without me)!
Now, without further ado, heeeeeeeeeeere’s Barbara!
Jennifer: What made you decide to become a literary agent, and how does one train to become an agent?
Barbara: All my life I have been a voracious reader. My mom loves to tell the story about when I was reading Stephen King and spilled my kool-aid all over and it was just puddling and dripping and she said, “Barbie! You spilled everywhere!” and I said, “Just one more page, ma.”
And “train” is a funny word. You have to kind of approach agenting like you should life in general: With 2% Common Sense and 98% Balls. ( Can I say balls here or should I use a romance euphemism? heh.)
Jennifer: What is your favorite genre to sell?
Barbara: That is the best part about working at my agency- we can take on any client with any project that we have a vision for. So that means I can have the privilege and the luxury of populating my list with things that rock my world rather than those I have to take on to fill an agency expectation in a genre.
Jennifer: Can you share some of your favorite success stories with us?
Barbara: Sure! This one time I had an author we’ll call Shmennifer Shmaymore to protect her identity and I was able to sell the plot of her book to one house and the characters to another for a total of 5 books. Oh, and did I mention this was ON A PROPOSAL? That is still something my boss just shakes her head and laughs about.
(Jennifer: Hmmm…I wonder who this Shmennifer character is????)
Jennifer: Do you use an e-reader or do you read paper books?
Barbara: For work? My ereader, and my ereader only. For play? ALWAYS paper. ALWAYS. It is just how I am built. My husband and I have boxes and boxes of books in storage, as well as two free standing bookcases and a built in bookcase always bursting. I also love when we have guests and they can see our eclectic reading style and I am a HUGE fan of lending out favorites. Hey if I don’t get it back I can always get another. Travis and I counted once and we think we lent out and then repurchased 5 copies of Life of PI over the years.
Jennifer: What kinds of books do you most enjoy reading in your spare time?
Barbara: Everything. If Susan Casey has a new non-fiction, then I will run to the store and push people down to get it. Huge Anne Lamott fan. But mostly I love walking through the shelves and piling books in my arms and then choosing what to read depending on my mood. But I love me some bathtub romance reading, a habit I started with Julie Garwood’s books back in college.
Jennifer: What kinds of books are you looking for right now?
Barbara: Well written ones! Ha- okay I know that isn’t helpful. Mostly genre fiction, but again, I get to be open to what works I represent so I really am looking for a unique take on a familiar theme no matter the shelf space it would inhabit.
Jennifer: How can an author make her query/pages really stand out, in your eyes?
Barbara: By keeping it simple, clean and professional. I always say, get in and get out. Your query needs to tell me the hook, the book, and the cook. The hook: one line with genre and word count. The book: five lines of plot summary. The cook: you! And I don’t care if this is your debut just let me know why this book, why you, and why now.
Great advice, and THANK YOU so much, Barbara, for joining us here at the Dangerous Women Blog today!
I’m going to be giving away three books that Barbara has recently represented, one by me and two by a couple of writers/friends who are also represented by Barbara and who I deeply admire!
~By Sophie Littlefield
~By Kris Kennedy
~By Jennifer Haymore
I’ll announce the winner on Monday night!