Agent Name: Agnes Carlowicz
Agency Name/Location: Carol Mann Agency, NYC
Agency Link: https://www.carolmannagency.com/
Social Media Links:
Nonfiction Genres Represented:
- Progressive politics/current events
- Memoir by women/non-binary/LGBTQIA+ authors
- Millennial business
- Humor/pop culture/illustrated
- *projects with a millennial and/or intersectional feminist angle
What is your best tip for new writers looking for a book deal?
The right mix of persistence and patience is key. It’s important to be the squeaky wheel – but it’s also important to understand that publishing can move very slowly at times. You never want to send anyone too many follow-ups. Instead, while you’re waiting, take the time to build your platform. Publish articles, increase your social media engagement, book speaking gigs. Be very deliberate in your follow-ups, include a nugget about something you’ve done recently, and don’t expect an immediate answer. You want editors/agents to remember you, but you also want to be respectful of their time and eternally overflowing inboxes.
My other tip: follow instructions! It sounds so simple, but it makes all the difference. In addition to evaluating materials, an editor/agent is trying to decide whether to enter into a relationship with you as their client, and following instructions is a good indicator of what it will be like to work with you. If a call for queries specifies “no email attachments” – don’t send an email attachment! You want to stand out in a good way.
What kinds of pitches catch your attention?
Pitches that get right to the point. I love anything with a really grabby first line. I’m always drawn in by query letters that are concise yet thorough. Tell me WHAT the book is, WHY it matters, and WHO you are as an author, right from the get-go. Refer to the competition and show me you did your research.
Also, I appreciate anything that isn’t too heavy-handed. Keep me engaged long enough that I miss my stop on the subway. Humor is always a plus. I also like pugs and feminism.
How important is platform in getting a deal?
These days in non-fiction, platform is almost always a necessity. Publishers want to see that you as an author have a wide reach and a built-in, engaged audience. The platform you have is invaluable in book promotion and getting the word out. That being said – there are always exceptions. But those exceptions are becoming fewer and farther between.
What do you look for in a writer’s platform?
Engagement and growth trends! It’s always obvious to editors and agents when social media followers are purchased and/or fake. And having a lot of followers won’t automatically lead to strong book sales. Engagement with your audience is just as important as reach – I look for comments, reposts, and interactions with other accounts. I also watch accounts over time to see how quickly and consistently they are growing.
Another thing I look for is whether a platform is still current. If your most recent article was published 3 or 4 year ago, I’m left wondering what you’ve been doing since then. Make sure your platform stays active. Timing is everything in getting a book deal.
How should writers promote themselves right now (before approaching an agent)?
Don’t go straight to self-publishing. Grow the type of platform that makes sense given your field – that can mean a social media platform, or a more traditional platform like speaking at conferences or writing articles. Do a Ted Talk if you can. Create and cultivate a specific brand, and then get your name out there!
What should writers know about book proposals?
They are often the most important part of getting a book deal! These days, the agent does a lot of editorial work on the proposal before it gets sent out to any editors, which in many cases can take a few months of back and forth work. You get one shot with editors reading your proposal, so it’s of vital importance to send out something that’s polished and fully developed.
What other steps should writers take before approaching an agent?
Research. Make connections. Develop your brand. And most importantly – honor your craft!
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