Series posts so far: Intro - Andrea Cascardi (Transatlantic) - Ginger Knowlton (Curtis Brown) - Marie Lamba of Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency
Today Christina Farley's agent, Jeff Ourvan of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency, LLC., will be sharing with us. He is currently shopping Christina's young adult novel, GILDED.
MiGs: Why did you become an agent?
Jeff: I’ve had a diverse career as an attorney, a communications consultant and a writer/editor and believed that working as a literary agent would be the perfect way to merge these various skills.
MiGs: What made you pick your very first client?
Jeff: He wrote I book that I would have bought and read. Also his work, which was nonfiction, told an important and unique story about Middle Eastern culture and politics, and I felt it was potentially marketable.
MiGs: Of the most recent 100 queries you received from writers, how many did you accept as clients? (rough guess)
Jeff: Less than one. Perhaps one out of the last 200.
MiGs: What is an ideal client?
Jeff: An author who writes well (of course), who knows his or her market, who’s open to editorial criticism, who responds quickly, who is generally polite, and who fully shares in the endeavor to sell his or her work.
Jeff: In general, any sort of advice that presumes to apply to all writers is suspect. Everyone is different, everyone has a different style and approach. One thing I used to hear a lot that definitely isn’t true is that you have to write everyday in order to be a good writer. I think it’s more important to live a courageous and interesting life everyday in order to be a good writer.
MiGs: Do you read the query letter first or the sample pages?
Jeff: Always the query. I don’t even get to the sample pages if the query hasn’t grabbed me. And sometimes I don’t finish the query if the first paragraph hasn’t already intrigued me.
MiGs: What is one common misconception that inexperienced writers tend to have about agents?
Jeff: Hmm. That we’re all handsome and glamorous? I guess a misconception that I sometimes run into is that I ought to be able to tell a writer precisely what sort of book, or genre, will be the next big thing. The truth is that publishing anything is a challenge right now. Writers should write what they want to write, what’s in their hearts.
MiGs: What is something people might not know about you?
Jeff: I’ve been to all 50 states!
MiGs: What’s on your wish list?
Jeff: Thrillers, mysteries, nonfiction sports, nonfiction in general, literary YA.
Check out Jeff's newly released book: HOW TO COACH YOUTH BASEBALL SO EVERY KID WINS