Query. Sign. Submit. with Agent & Author Eric Smith!

meEric Smith is an agent with P.S. Literary Agency. He represents a little bit of everything. “On the adult side of things, I love accessible sci-fi and fantasy, as well as accessible literary fiction. Accessible is something I stress a lot, because I like books anyone can read. If the world building is too exhausting or the novel is impossible to understand… hard pass. I also work on Young Adult books across all genres and non-fiction (cookbooks, memoir, pop-culture).”

He only responds to the projects he’s interested in. Consider it a pass after 6 weeks.

Eric is also a young adult author and The Girl & the Grove,  is now available from Flux! He is represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary.

Connect with Eric …grove

Twitter (@ericsmithrocks) * website (which features his books as well as his authors’ - www.ericsmithrocks.com)

Get the book …

The Girl & the Grove (Available now!) * Reclaim the Sun (2020)

QSS intro

From an agent perspective …

QUERY

What advice would you give to querying writers?

To do your research, and to be patient. And when it comes to that research, make sure you’re reading where that research is coming from. Are you reading something from someone in the industry? A published author? Someone with an agent? It always shocks me to hear writers echoing back really terrible advice they’ve read on some misc. blog. Doing research is great. Making sure that research is legit? Even better.

Is there anything you see way too much of in the queries you receive?

I sometimes get the occasional query letter where the writer is trying to be funny, and it tanks. Humor is great. Being lighthearted, also great. But like, tread carefully. If I get a query that’s full of jokes and snark, I’ll assume the writing style is like that. And if you’re not making me laugh… we’re kinda done.

Is it okay for a writer to nudge concerning queries or partial/full requests?

Absolutely. You should never be afraid of doing that.

What does it take for you to offer representation?

Honestly, I just have to love the story and the writer. That’s it. There’s no magical equation to it all. Book has to be awesome, and the author has to be someone I’d want to work with for a long time. That’s all I need. Good book, good person.

SIGN

Are there any specific questions you’d recommend that a writer ask when talking with offering agents?

I think it’s always a good idea to talk about where they potentially see your book. Now, this isn’t you asking, “where are you going to sell my book.” Because that’s not an answerable question. This is just getting a feel for where they feel your book could potentially be. You want an agent who knows the marketplace and has a good sense of where they’d go with your project.

Also, maybe see if you can chat with the agent’s current clients. If they say no, my goodness, is that a red flag of the highest order. You should be able to drop a client a line and ask what their experience is like. But, just be respectful of the client’s time. If you send an email that’s a novel full of questions, you might not get an answer back, if they are on deadline or just, you know, living their life.

“But they don’t have any clients!” You scream. That’s okay. If they are a shiny new agent, ask them how their agency is going to support them. Do they have the ties needed to pitch your book around? Get a sense of their passion, if they lack the experience. Every agent was a new agent at some point.

How long do you prefer an author take to get back to you once you’ve offered?

I don’t really care. I’d love to hear back soon, but I don’t give deadlines. The publishing industry is too small to burn bridges and not take your time. Get back to me in a few months if you have to. It’s fine.

This does not mean if an agent gives you a deadline, that that’s a bad sign. Plenty of agents do give a deadline. That’s just a personal preference of mine.

What is it like waiting to hear back from a writer you’ve offered representation?

I get pretty antsy. I don’t think writers realize that agents get just as worked up as they do, waiting to hear back if we’re going to work together. And then, once you’re signed by an agent, it gets kicked up a level, and when an editor offers… then it’s THEIR turn to get worked up waiting to hear back.

Publishing is just a business full of anxiety. I don’t know why we do it.

How do you get to know editors and what they’re looking for?

It’s funny, I get asked this question a lot because I’m an agent based in the Midwest. The closest publisher to me is Sourcebooks, and they’re a solid three hours away in Chicago. I don’t get to do the fancy New York City lunches with editors, so writers tend to wonder how I’m able to get to know folks.

Hi, have you met the Internet?

I spend a lot of time emailing editors, introducing myself, talking to them on Twitter, hopping on the phone… all of that helps in a huge way, and keeps me in the loop. I do fly out to events like ALA or BEA, which is certainly a great networking opt. But with the joys of the Internet, it’s just a quick email, and sometimes, a pick-your-brain phone call.

Is it okay for a client to check in if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

Of course! An author should never be afraid of their agent. You need to have an open dialogue with them. Communication is SO important.

As an agent who is also an author …

QUERY, SIGN, SUBMIT

How is the process of querying and signing with an agent different for a writer who is also an agent?

This question is so funny, because I feel like I get asked if the process is easier because I’m an agent and like, know editors.

It’s not. It’s probably worse.

Because while my book is on submission, I’m actively pitching and talking to these editors and publishing houses, and some of them have my book. And it’s just terrifying. So that anxiety authors feel while on sub? Imagine your book is on submission to all these people… and you still have to talk to them every day.

How is the process of going on submission different for a writer who is also an agent?

It’s not. Though I do ask my agent to avoid pitching editors I’m actively working on things with. I’d like to keep things not weird. But that becomes impossible anyway, because I’m not going to micromanage my agent and have her run every editor by me. I’m not a monster.

How do you balance the work of both an agent and an author?

I don’t. I wrote my latest book, Reclaim the Sun, two years ago. Once it comes out, I anticipate I’ll just do a lot of crying in the shower when it’s time to write something new.

Thanks so much, Eric!

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* Posted September 2018 – Always check for current info and guidelines.

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