Saturday, November 13, 2010

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Bernadette Baker-Baughman

Bernadette Baker-Baughman has a MS in Professional Writing and has worked on both the editorial and marketing sides of publishing. As the Marketing Coordinator for Beyond Words Publishing/Atria Books, she headed up campaigns for two New York Times best-selling titles. In 2005 Bernadette co-founded Baker’s Mark Literary Agency where she discovered talent such as Farel Dalrymple, Faith Erin Hicks, Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, Dan Elconin, David Axe, Carson Morton, and Zack Giallongo, among others. In 2010 Bernadette joined Victoria Sanders and Associates. Bernadette is currently interested in representing commercial adult, YA, and middle grade fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. In fiction she gravitates towards books with a wide audience access point—specifically books with cultural or contemporary touchstones (reimaginings, historical fiction, fiction based on legend or myth, fiction with fantastical elements that are part of the cultural collective imagination, Steampunk, etc). In nonfiction she is looking for image rich books, pop culture, art, quirky gift books, light sociology, and narrative nonfiction. In graphic novels she is seeking beautifully illustrated works of nonfiction, memoir, young adult or children’s fiction, high fantasy, funny character driven stories, and graphic literature. Bernadette is also willing to talk to writers who do not have art attached to their comic concept or illustrators willing to work with other authors.

And now Bernadette Baker-Baughman faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Wow! That is impossible to answer. Ok, I want to shake this up a little. How’s this?

Most anticipated book of 2010: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour by Brian Lee O’Malley—totally worth the wait. I Heart Scott Pilgrim.

Highest page count of 2010: The Passage by Justin Cronin—I can’t believe that, after all of those pages, it ended on a cliff hanger. Now I am going to have to read the whole trilogy.

Best recommendation from a friend in 2010: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I love kick ass girls, and so Katniss is my hero. And my client Faith Hicks did a really cool fan comic for the book, which makes me love it even more.

Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?

Well, The Princess Bride is the greatest movie of all time. And I stand by that. It has everything: romance, action, comedy. Right now I am totally hooked on Dexter (if you saw season 4, you know what I’m talking about) and Glee. I am also really looking forward to the Walking Dead series.

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?

My ideal clients are the ones who see the craft of writing or drawing as their career. They take their job seriously and put in the work to make their books shine.

Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?

I am really interested in queries that make me say “hmm, that’s original. I haven’t quite seen that before.” I want books (prose or graphic novels) of all genres that are driven by an overactive imagination. And that offer a fresh take.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?

My favorite thing about being an agent is advocating the extremely talented creators that I work with. I am constantly reminded of how much skill and commitment that it takes to be a successful author or illustrator these days. And I feel lucky to be surrounded by such awesome clients.

My least favorite thing about being an agent is the waiting. There is a lot of hurry up to wait in publishing.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

First impressions are incredibly important. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Keeping this in mind, be thoughtful about how you query and what you submit to agents or publishers. Personal query letters and polished drafts are the first steps in making a good impression. Take the time to make a good first impression and it will go a long way for you.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I’d like to have lunch with Roald Dahl. I know he wasn’t very sociable, but he was my first favorite author. I want to get a glimpse into that mind.


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