Literary Agent Sara Megibow shares “A day in the life…”

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Agents are advocates for their writers. But what does that mean? What do agents do? Sara Megibow with the Nelson Literary Agency (NLA) in Denver, Colorado demystifies the life of a literary agent and offers insights into the tasks that fill her working day.

I spoke with Sara during the RT Convention in Kansas City the day after a freak May 2nd snowstorm. I had heard her speak at conferences before and was delighted to meet her.

Sara represents twenty-six clients. She spends 90% of her work time on contract negotiations, publicity and promotions, subsidiary rights, and author career planning.

“I have artist discussions,” Sara said. “I need to know what each wants. Are they looking to write a dozen books a year or just one?”

She is constantly on the hunt for subsidiary rights for her writers’ work, which means she is searching for inroads into other markets, such as audio, foreign publication, film and TV, along with graphic novels, comic books and merchandising.

What about those writers trying to grab her attention with a well-written query letter?

“About ten percent of my time is spent looking for new authors, query letters and manuscripts,” Sara explained.

About 150-200 emails fill her inbox each day. The explosion of indie-publishers and indie-authors hasn’t resulted in a decrease of submissions coming to her. “Many writers tell me they want a traditional book deal,” Sara shared.

The quality of the submissions she receives is “fabulous.” She believes that Romance Writers of America educates their membership and it shows in the work that writers send her way.

I wanted to know one thing that surprises Sara about being an agent. She pondered the question for moment, then said, “Pop culture feels like it’s being molded based on books, more now than when I was a child.” She spoke of the significant impact of Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games on our culture.

Sara also pointed out how books are more accessible today. Independent bookstores and libraries used to be the primary place to get books. Now there are many options with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and eBook retailers.

When asked for her best advice to aspiring authors, Sara smiled and said, “Don’t quit!”

From the NLA website:

Sara is currently looking for superior writing and a great concept. Whether a book has vampires or butterflies, spaceships or school buses, it doesn’t matter. Sara wants to be carried away by the story. If your book is fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, steampunk, contemporary, historical, short, long or a mashup of all the above, send it along! Boiled down to a list, here it is:

•Young-adult and middle-grade novels in all subgenres
•Super sexy romance with a solid dose of humor
•Complex fantasy of all types: epic fantasy, urban fantasy, quirky fantasy, historical fantasy
•All science fiction from very science-y to action-packed and commercial
•New Adult manuscripts that feature early 20-something protagonists and conflicts about identity and independence

You can find out more about Sara at Publishers Marketplace

Happy Reading!

Linda Joyce
http://www.linda-joyce.com

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About Linda Joyce

Writing is a curious journey. You don't pick it, it picks you. See my website at www.Linda-Joyce.com to learn more about me.
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12 Responses to Literary Agent Sara Megibow shares “A day in the life…”

  1. Linda Joyce says:

    Hey there! Everyone,

    Here’s the math and it shows the reason why query letters have to grab attention in the first few sentences.
    IF an agent works 40 hours a week (all I’ve ever spoken to work more) then, there are 2400 minutes in their week.
    If 10% of that time is dedicated to reviewing submissions, then 10% is 240 minutes or 4 hours a week.
    750 submissions a week pop up in an inbox.
    4 hours a week of an agent’s time means they would have to review 107 an hour or one every 1.78 minutes.
    All this means if a writer wants to get noticed, they have to be on their ‘A-game’ and do it in less than 1.78 minutes.

    Keep writing! As Sara said, Don’t Give Up!

  2. What an excellent interview! Linda, you are so clever. I have so much to learn. kathy

  3. Evidently this agent spends no time on editing her clients’ manuscripts for she doesn’t mention it. My agent puts all her clients through two hard round of edits before the manuscript meets her guidlelines to “shop out.” I’ve learned as much about writing from her as I have from my editors. Still, for all that, it’s an interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Vonnie,

      Sara and I spoke during the limited few minutes between sessions at RT. If there is something not clarified or lacking, consider it my failure to capture it in my notes.

      LJ

  4. Linda, A terrific interview–and an excellent idea!!! I’ve heard Sarah speak, too, and found her a delight. Thanks for giving us a sense of what an agent does.

  5. Renee Regent says:

    Very informative article. Thanks Linda for sharing that! I have been wondering how the changes in the industry are affecting agents.

  6. Linda, Great interview. I’ve heard Kristen Nelson of that agency speak. Great group to be associated with. In the past, I’ve visited their website and gotten some great ideas for querying and synopses.

    Barbara Barrett

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Barbara,

      I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Nelson at the Missouri Writers Guild conference. I, too, look to the NLA website for tips and information.

      Smiles,

      Linda Joyce

  7. Pingback: A decision, of sorts, and not reached lightly | Jaye Em Edgecliff

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