Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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Q&A with literary agent and author Marie Lamba - Part 2

Here's the second part of the Q&A with literary agent and published author, Marie Lamba:


How does life as an agent compare with what you expected?
I expected to be busy, but I’m seriously busy. For the first time, I’m turning down speaking engagements and consults with people, because I truly do not have a moment to spare.

I expected to enjoy working with authors, but I didn’t realize until I started accepting clients just how much happiness I could bring to an author with a simple phone call offering representation. That’s been a joy!

I knew I’d be of interest to conferences, but I didn’t realize that organizations would be flying me places and putting me up in hotels just so that I could attend and talk with authors. Quite a surprise!

And I knew that I’d be contacting editors, but somehow never realized that editors would want to be in contact with me. That they need agents in order to find great projects, and that they’d be eager to talk with me. That blew me away.

Terri-Lynne DeFino (aka bogwitch64) and Gustavo Bondoni (aka bondo_ba) asked:
How has becoming an agent changed you as a writer?

Great question. Hopefully now I’ll be writing “smarter.”

I’m working on a new novel now, and I’m definitely viewing things differently. I’m making sure that I know every cliché in my genre and writing to avoid them or to play off them, for starters. And I’m keeping a very focused idea of what the pitch for my novel will eventually be, so that I create something that my agent and editors can really run with. I’m seeing more of the business-side of creativity, and I hope this serves my future novels well.

Now that I regularly view, I can’t believe I’d never used that before I became an agent! My red-hot advice to my fellow writers: bite the bullet, pay for the subscription and use this site for all it’s worth!

I will now definitely search that website before I put pen to paper. You can see what deals have been made over the past 12 years or so, but more importantly, you can see what books will be coming out in the next 2 years related to your subject by searching the database for recent and related deals.

No way will I spend a year writing something only to have my agent pitch it just as one or several books with the very same theme are hitting the market (unless my book plays off that theme in a different way).

Rosalind Dando (aka black_faery) asked:
How do you know what the Next Big Thing is, when taking chances on a genre or sub-genre that isn't currently selling lots?

Hi Rosalind. You don’t know. No one does. I go with my gut. If I love something deeply, intensely, then that’s enough for me. I also have to feel I can sell it, meaning there has to be some market for it, but other than that, it’s all about having faith in your convictions, if that makes sense.

Lave (aka lavericknine) asked:
What is the appeal of being an agent verses an author? And what is the appeal of being an author verses an agent?

Hi Lave. As an agent, I enjoy helping people I believe in succeed. That’s all kinds of wonderful. Knowing that I can actually influence someone’s career and have a hand in shaping what editors see and eventually readers will love, is humbling and exciting. I have an editorial background and empathy as an author to assist my clients in their work, and I have a strong P.R. and marketing background that I bring to the table when pitching my authors’ projects. Agenting gives me a chance to unite all these skills and hopefully make a difference.

Being an author is about expressing my own personal view of the world. It’s all me pouring out on the page. And while my editing abilities and marketing abilities come into play in my author world, the most important part of it all is my creative self. Tapping into that is like breathing. I must do it. I’m sure most authors feel like that.

Does the publishing industry have a different feel [now you’re on the agent side of the fence too]?
Absolutely. First of all, I always appreciated my agent Jennifer DeChiara, but never fully realized until now just how much work she has always done on my behalf! Reading my many manuscripts in their many versions and offering edits and comments. Answering my many questions. Spending countless hours on the phone with editors pitching my novels. And all that while fielding countless queries and taking care of her many clients. Truly amazing.

Also, I’m starting to see a more human side to publishing and especially to the editors within publishing. It’s my job to get to know this side of editors and to understand their interests, and no longer are they names on a masthead, but nice people who also love books. It’s all starting to feel more like an extended community to me. More friendly and welcoming than I’d ever imagined.

Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful questions!

Marie Lamba ( is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency in NYC. She’s also author of the contemporary young adult novels, What I Meant… (Random House) and Over My Head, and the new paranormal YA novel Drawn. Her work appears in the short story anthology, Liar Liar (Mendacity Press), the anthology, Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing), and her articles are in more than 100 publications including national magazines such as Writer’s Digest, Garden Design and RWR. She has worked as an editor, an award-winning public relations writer, and a book publicist, has taught classes on novel writing and on author promotion, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and The Liars Club.

Tags: interviews

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