Wanna Be Lit AGENT

March 19, 2011

Interview with Laurie McLean, Literary Agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wanna Be Lit. Agent @ 11:55 pm

Welcome everyone to my first interview post! To follow is my interview with Laurie McLean of Larsen Pomada Literary Agency.


How long have you work in publishing? Worked as a Literary Agent?

I am entering my seventh year as a literary agent.  For two years prior to that I was completing three novels. For twenty years prior to that I ran a multi-million dollar publicity agency in California’s Silicon Valley.

Did you always want to be a literary agent? If so how did you learn about Literary Agent? If no, what was your dream career before?

See above for my history.


How did you become a Literary Agent?

I decided to become a literary agent by accident. I found an agent for my first romance novel during the San Francisco Writers Conference and even though my novel did not sell to a large New York publisher, I ended up becoming an agent at the same firm that represented me!  You never know what will happen when you go to a writer’s conference!


What is one thing you did not expect came with the job description of Literary Agent?

I had no idea the sheer magnitude of rejections I would have to hand out to hopeful writers.  It is simply staggering.  I get 1200-1500 queries each month.


What are some day to day tasks that you can expect?

I read a lot, communicate with editors, keep up on the latest publishing developments, research trends, and write.


What schooling if any did you need/receive to be a literary agent?

It is a good idea if you know business things (like how to negotiate a contract, time management, organization, multi-tasking, etc.) and writing/publishing things (grammar, spelling, how to write well, the history of the publishing industry, the process of publishing a book, digital publishing), plus have a bold personality and a thick skin.  Tact is also invaluable.

What is your best advice for stepping into the publishing industry? What steps should you take?

Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. Learn all you can about your chosen profession, the players, the deals, the process of buying and selling books. Either intern at a literary agency or with a publisher.  Or step laterally from another business.  But get some life experience before you become an agent.  It’s not for the faint of heart.


What type of clients do you see on a day to day basis?

I don’t see clients very often.  We connect via telephone, email and at conferences. I have a couple local San Francisco Bay area clients and I see them once a month.  It’s a lot of fun when we do get together and we always have a lot to talk about.


How many queries in any given week do you receive and how do you handle them.

I receive between 300-400 email queries a week.  I reply with a receipt confirmation via email, but do not contact anyone again unless I want to see more from them.  It’s the only way I could keep up with the volume.


What are some key terms that you should be familiar with?

I don’t understand this question.


What’s a fun fact about literary agents?

A fun fact.  Hmmmmm.  We like each other and are very supportive?  No, that’s boring.  How about I know a literary agent who used to be a cop, another who was a high-level management consultant and another who was a nurse!


What is the best part about being a literary agent?

The variety.  The ability to use both halves of my brain (creative and business).  The people I work with (editors, authors, other agents).  I am totally crazy about my job.



Laurie McLean, Literary Agent, Dean of San Francisco Writers University & Indie Publishing Contest Director

Larsen Pomada Literary Agents
1029 Jones Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
email: laurie@agentsavant.com
queries: query@agentsavant.com
website: www.larsenpomada.com
blog: www.agentsavant.com
twitter: @agentsavant
Facebook: www.facebook.com/laurie.mclean

I handle adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, horror, ‘new’ westerns, thrillers, suspense) and middle-grade/young-adult children’s books of all stripes. I read email submissions of the first ten pages followed by a 1-2 page synopsis in the body of your email to QUERY@AGENTSAVANT.COM.(I’m not big on prologues, so start with chapter 1). I do not open attachments due to virus concerns. Due to the overwhelming volume of queries I receive (1,200 per month or more) I no longer reply to them, although you will receive an automated confirmation email when I open your submission (which might be days after you send it so be patient). If you haven’t heard back from me in 8 weeks with a request for more pages, assume that I am rejecting your submission. Query my colleagues Michael Larsen for non-fiction and Elizabeth Pomada for literary and commercial fiction, women’s fiction/romance, narrative non-fiction/memoir, historical fiction and mysteries. They can both be reached at larsenpoma@aol.com. None of us handles children’s picture books/early readers or graphic novels.Please: Only query one of us!

San Francisco Writers University: Where Writers Meet and You Learn
website/blogs/free classes: www.SFWritersU.com
email: sfwritersu@gmail.com
twitter: @SFWritersU

9th San Francisco Writers Conference: A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community
February 17-19, 2012 at the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill
email: sfwriterscon@aol.com
website: www.sfwriters.org
twitter: @SFWC
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Francisco-Writers-Conference/112732798786104

Indie Publishing Contest
Where the grand prize is a publishing package complete with mentoring and marketing


I want to thank Laurie for being a part of this interview and sharing her knowledge on the publishing industry. I invite you all to check out her wonderful blog and other links.


Thanks for Reading

M. Nicole


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