Saturday, March 26, 2011

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Wendy Schmalz

Wendy Schmalz is the principal and founder of the Wendy Schmalz Agency, founded in 2002. Representing a wide range of writers for both the children’s and adult markets for more than twenty-five years, her current client list includes Myla Goldberg, Julie Anne Peters, Seymour Simon, and April Henry to name a few. She began her career at Curtis Brown before moving on to Harold Ober Associates, where she was a principal of the company.

As always, for information about Wendy Schmalz and other literary agents, check out the amazing blog, Literary Rambles, by my friends Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre.

And now Wendy Schmalz faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Robert Caro's three volume biography of LBJ, EVERY MAN DIES ALONE by Hans Fallada, JUDGMENT DAYS by Rick Kotz

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


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

The most important quality is talent. It's important that they have confidence in their work, but not an over-blown ego. A sense of humor is also very important to me.

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

That's a dangerous question. If I said yert building in Mongolia, I'd get a hundred proposals about yerts. Like everyone else, I'm looking for fresh stories with good voices. I hate it when people say their book is the next TWILIGHT or the new HUNGER GAMES. I want to represent someone whose voice is so strong and whose story-telling is so gripping that everyone wants to be the next them.

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

Selling someone's first book is an unbeatable a thrill. It never gets old.

It's very hard to tell someone I don't think our agent/author relationship is working and that I think they should move on.

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)

The sooner you develop a thick skin, the better.

If your agent doesn't return your calls in a timely manner, he/she is probably hoping you'll find another agent.

The reason an agent or publisher tells you he/she is passing on your works isn't necessarily the real reason. Everyone defaults to stock responses. Regardless of why someone is passing, no means no.

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

I worked with the F. Scott Fitzgerald estate for many years, so Fitzgerald would be my choice. He seems like a long lost friend.



  1. Great interview! It's good to hear the literary agent's perspective on the business.
    Now what if I pitch my next book as Twilight meets Hunger Games? ;]
    - Nicholas

  2. Great interview. It's interesting to hear that not returning phone calls is a sign the agent is hoping you'll move on to another agent. I'd rather someone just be honest.


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