Tuesday, September 26, 2017

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Kelly Van Sant

Kelly Van Sant has nearly a decade of experience in the publishing industry. She cut her teeth in New York working at esteemed literary agencies such as Writers House and Harold Ober Associates, where she developed an eye for compelling, emotionally resonant stories, honed her editorial skills, and soon grew adept at contract vetting. She quickly gained expertise in subsidiary rights management, with focuses on audio rights, foreign rights, and permissions.

After relocating to Minnesota, Kelly joined Llewellyn Worldwide as their Contracts Manager across all three imprints and then moved to Quarto Publishing Group USA where she led the contract department. She has worked as a freelance editor with various publishers and is a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center.  She also blogs about writing and the publishing industry at Pub(lishing) Crawl and co-hosts their weekly podcast.

Kelly's career came full circle when she joined D4EO Literary Agency in 2017 and began actively building her client list. You can learn more about her and what she's looking for on her blog Pen and Parsley.

And now Kelly Van Sant faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Honorable mention: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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

When Harry Met Sally
Rear Window
(Runner Up: Legally Blonde)

Orphan Black
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Great British Bake Off

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

Prolific: I want to work with authors over the course of their careers, so I am always hoping to sign clients who have more than one book in them.

Honest: This should be obvious, but I only want to go into business with honest people.

Hard-working:  Publishing demands a lot of authors, and I hope to work with people who have good work ethic, and are willing to rise up to the challenges that meet them.

Talented: Another obvious one, but true. I want to work with creative, innovative people, who write compelling, unique stories.

Communicative: I need my clients to be able to talk to me candidly. I want them to be comfortable stating their expectations, coming to me with concerns, questions, or ideas. For our partnership to work  we need to have open communication.

Receptive: Likewise, I want my clients to be open to listening to feedback, counsel, and advice. Whether it's editorial feedback from a publisher or career advice coming from me, I want my authors to be open to hearing suggestions and being willing to consider all angles of an issue before making a determination.

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

Right now I'm super into YA fantasy and science-fiction and upper middle grade fantasy and adventure. I especially love books about friendship and found family, with compelling characters, meaningful stakes, and a commercial hook. I am always seeking diverse books from diverse writers.

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 working closely with authors to improve their craft, retain creative control over their work, and plan the long-term trajectory of their careers. I really love the creative work that goes into editing and pitching, but I've also got a background in contracts and I'm incredibly passionate about making sure that authors enter into deals that are mutually beneficial, and that respect and protect their rights. There are too many tragic stories about authors falling for scams or signing contracts that are full of red flags. As much as I love the creative work, I also really love negotiating and advocating for authors to give them the clearest and most positive path forward.

My least favorite thing about being an agent is time management. I'm a pretty organized person, and so I didn't anticipate having problems falling behind schedule on queries or requested reading. But it seems like the days fly by, no matter how organized and on top of things I am. Of course I am so grateful to have so many people interested in querying me; but it's a bit of a never-ending avalanche. I hate the times when I fall behind, because I know I'm keeping people waiting, and I hate not being able to respond promptly. I really respect writers, and I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage to query and seek representation. I believe in responding to every query I receive; I think authors deserve a direct response. Sometimes it just takes much longer than I'd like to send that response.

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)

Cultivate patience. This is such a hypocritical things to say, as I myself am an incredibly impatient person. But publishing is a slow industry at every stage, and if you cannot master patience then you will be very unhappy for much of the process. Always have something new to work on--it's one of the best ways to distract yourself while you wait, and it keeps you moving forward rather than staying stagnant.

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

I would love to have lunch with the late Louise Rennison, author of the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, because she'd be down for cocktails and would make me laugh until I cried.

1 comment:

  1. She has some great answers to the questions. I know what she means about patience or lack of it in this business. That's one "virtue" I've had to work on all the time.

    We share a lot of favorite movies!


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