Wanna Be Lit AGENT

May 24, 2011

Interview with Suzie Townsend Literary Agent

Filed under: Uncategorized — Wanna Be Lit. Agent @ 5:15 pm

Hello everyone, today’s interview is with Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary Management!

How long have you worked in publishing? as a literary agent? I’ve been in publishing since January 2009 when I started as an unpaid intern. In May, I was hired as the executive assistant to the CEO at FinePrint, and I started actually agenting when I signed my first client in June. 

How did you become a literary agent? Did you always want to be a literary agent? If so, how did you learn about Literary Agents. If no, what was your dream career before? For a long time I wanted to be a flight attendant. But then eventually I graduated with an English degree and wound up teaching high school English in Florida.  After feeling disillusioned with teaching, I decided to take a year off and explore other career possibilities. My sister had been working in editorial for a textbook publisher, and the more she told me about the industry, the more I wanted to check it out. This led me to bookjobs.com where I found a post for an unpaid internship position at FinePrint Literary Management. I applied, interviewed, and took an intern position. And I loved it! 

What is one thing you did not expect came with the job description of Literary Agent? Everything. I had no idea what Literary Agents did until I started. I thought they were all going to be the Ari Gold’s of publishing–all phone calls, yelling, and then partying at night. It’s not that glamorous–though I do spend a lot of time on the phone.

What are some day to day tasks that you can expect as a Literary Agent? Expect to get a lot of emails. Answering emails from clients, editors, colleagues–it’s really important to keep track of everything and be organized. Calls to editors to pitch a project, to follow up on a project, to ask about something pertaining to a project. Most of the reading and editing, I do at home.

What schooling if any did you need/receive to be a Literary Agent? I have an English degree and a Masters in Education. I don’t know if either of them were needed or helpful in terms of being an agent. I do know that the six years I spent teaching and editing and grading papers and then explaining to kids how to do what I wanted them to–that’s helped me a lot when it comes to writing editorial notes.

What is your best advice for stepping into the publishing industry? Get an internship. Even if it’s unpaid. I don’t think there’s anything that can teach you about publishing unless you’re in the industry–and when you have an internship, go in early, stay late, take every networking opportunity, and listen to everything that happens in the office. The things I learned by just listening to Janet Reid talk on the phone are innumerable.

Any perks to being a Literary Agent? I read for a living and work with books and authors. It’s all a perk.

What type of clients do you see on a day to day basis? Most of my clients I don’t “see” at all. We only meet in person when they come to NY and we get lunch or when I happen to be at a conference in their area.

What’s the biggest challenge in selecting clients? Finding things that I love and that don’t compete with what I already have. Really the hardest thing is that there are so many manuscripts out there. A lot of them are decent, but finding something that really stands out, that I love and think about all the time, that’s hard. And of course, it’s not anything I have any control over.

Are you working on any projects you can tell me about now?  I’m really excited about a project I just read recently. It’s one of my first big adult projects, called LA SERENISSIMA by Jess Hartley. It’s this beautiful and epic historical fantasy. It reminds me of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Series which is one of my favorites.

How many queries in any given week do you receive and how do you handle them? I get between 200-300 a week. Every once in a while a lot of people decide to query at the same time and I get over 300. Last week I got 330. I used to try to read them every night before I went to bed. Now I try to answer them every few days. I never let it go past a week because I panic about missing something.

Where can readers find you on the web? ( this can be a profile of your self and your Literary Agency)

 FinePrint’s website has my bio: http://fineprintlit.com/about-the-agents/suzie-townsend/

I also blog at http://confessionsofawanderingheart.blogspot.com/ and tweet at http://twitter.com/#!/sztownsend81 and I have a Publisher’s Marketplace page: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/sztownsend81/


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: