Saturday, February 12, 2011

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Marietta Zacker

Marietta has professionally experienced every aspect of children’s books for over 15 years, working with authors, illustrators, publishers, educators and readers. As an agent at Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, she is passionate about bringing those worlds together. She represents authors whose work make her pause, shiver or laugh out loud and illustrators who add a completely different dimension to the story being told. Marietta approaches her work with the knowledge that there are remarkable books of all genres, targeted to all ages, just waiting to be discovered. Aside from her work as an agent she is also the Book Curator at Sparkhouse, an independent toy and bookstore in South Orange, NJ.

The Nancy Gallt Literary Agency focuses on developing and finding the right home for the work of some of the most talented writers and illustrators in the children’s book industry. Established in 2000 by Nancy Gallt, and later joined by Marietta B. Zacker, they aim to bring to life stories and artwork that help young readers throughout the world become life-long book enthusiasts. They represent authors and illustrators who share and, through their work, exemplify that vision.

Marietta Zacker's clients include:  Ann Bonwill, Stephanie Barden, Carin Bramsen, Frances Lee Hall, our good friend Dawn Lairimore, Nathalie Mvondo, Dean Robbins, Israel Sanchez, Stephanie SandersElizabeth Schoonmaker, and our good friend Hilary Wagner, among others.

Marietta Zacker's interests include: Children's books only including picture books, board books, easy readers, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, non-fiction, historical fiction, graphic novels, fantasy, edgy, as well we illustrators and author-illustrators. 

Although, here is a quote from a conference: "Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot at these things when we tell a room full of writers what we love. Then all of a sudden we are bombarded with MS only about that. Often times, I don’t know what I want until I read it. I want something good."

As always, for information about Marietta Zacker as well as links to other interviews, I reccomend checking out my friend Casey McCormick's amazing blog, Literary Rambles.

And now Marietta Zacker faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

This is an impossible question to answer, but I'll try. Aside from the books written and illustrated by our clients (and I'm not just saying that), the best I can do is give you six (and it's an unfair question, for the record). ESPERANZA RISING by Pam Muñoz Ryan, THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, OUT OF THE DUST by Karen Hesse, WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame, RATS SAW GOD by Rob Thomas, BARK, GEORGE written and illustrated by Jules Feiffer

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

TV shows - Modern Family, 30 Rock, ¿Qué pasa, USA? (I would still watch it if it was on) 
 Movies - Chocolat, Life is Beautiful, Before Night Falls

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

Strong work ethic, patience, willingness to listen and collaborate, sense of humor.

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

Honestly, I never know until I see it. What I do know is that there are writers and illustrators who can come up with ideas I couldn't dream up. Those are the projects I want to see.

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

My favorite thing - Working with amazing people who all believe in the art, function and necessity of storytelling, both through the written word and through illustrations. My least favorite - Not having enough time to read everything I want to read.

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)

Be authentic ... let you characters be authentic, present the reader with authentic situations that come from an authentic place.

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

Pura Belpré. Why? Because she is an inspiration to every person who has ever written, illustrated or told a story, she was an amazing librarian who understood her influence, she ensured that all children felt and understood they had a role to play in the literary community and she penned some amazing Puerto Rican folklore.


  1. Great interview!
    I love her taste in TV. Funny shows!

  2. Great interview. Someone else recommended ESPERANA RISING. I'll have to check it out.

    I can so relate to not having enough time to read everything I want to read.

  3. MZ is the best! I'm so lucky to work with her and I'm lucky she puts up with me and my needy writer syndrome! ;)

    Great interview, Ninja!!!


  4. I agree with Hilary--any writer is lucky to work with Marietta!!

  5. So great to read this interview! Marietta IS awesome, and I hope I get the chance to work with her one day!


Thanks for stopping by, Esteemed Reader! And thanks for taking the time to comment. You are awesome.