Agent Name: Carrie PestrittoCarrie Pestritto

Agency Name/Location: Laura Dail Literary Agency/New York, NY

Agency Link:

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Nonfiction Genres Represented:

I’m interested in prescriptive, memoir, biography, narrative, and scientific nonfiction books in both the adult and children’s categories.

What is your best tip for new writers looking for a book deal?

Some authors get tunnel-vision when it comes to the work process and only focus their energies on writing their book or proposal.  It is important to also really research your genre and market.  What books are selling well?  What are they about?  How do they organize/present their information?  What kinds of marketing/publicity tactics do they use?  What credentials or platform do the authors have?

What kinds of pitches catch your attention?

I’m always on the lookout for really high-concept, fresh, and interesting ideas.  I love quirky memoirs that bring me into an atypical life situation and tend to gravitate toward upbeat and funny, rather than inspirational narratives. I look for narrative non-fiction that reveals little-known aspects of history or historical figures; cutting-edge relationship or dieting books; pop psychology; and pop science books.

I also I look for authors with strong platforms, such as a popular blog, published articles, or related professional experience.

How important is platform in getting a deal?

In nonfiction, pretty important.  Having “authoritative” credentials and background is how readers will trust your thoughts/information, and having influence and reach via the media is how you will set yourself apart from the rest of the pack to potential agents and publishers.

What do you look for in a writer’s platform?

Relevant experience and/or credentials; awards; social media presence; professional presence (e.g. publications, presentations, journals, TED Talks, etc.); and media, marketing, and PR connections.

How should writers promote themselves right now (before approaching an agent)?

While you are working on your book or searching for an agent, start researching and networking with the communities that will help boost you and your book, such as other thought leaders in the subject matter you’re writing about, book bloggers, librarians, and other writers.

You can also promote yourself by promoting others.  By boosting others, you’ll be growing your network and hopefully creating a list of people who will return the favor someday when it’s your turn.  Plus, no one wants to hear you talk about yourself all the time.  How can you provide value for your future/growing readership?  What can you give away for free that is entertaining or informative, depending on your genre?  Providing content that readers want will help you grow your audience.

What should writers know about book proposals?

Nonfiction book proposals are basically comprised of the following:

  • a 1-2 page overview of what the project is about
  • a chapter breakdown that details the contents of each chapter in 1 paragraph
  • your bio and relevant info
  • a comparative titles section
  • the proposed readership
  • marketing opportunities and connections
  • 5 sample chapters

What other steps should writers take before approaching an agent? Make sure you’ve done your research on the agents you’re querying to make sure they are actually interested in the kind of project you’re writing.  Be able to speak confidently about why your project is unique and how it will stand out in the market or appeal to readers.  And be ready to articulate what you’re looking for in your publishing career and what other kinds of books you have on deck next.

Would you like to be a featured member? Learn about joining the Nonfiction Authors Association!