Q & A with agent Alexandra Machinist

Do you want to get a little more insight into a literary agent’s life and mind? Check out this Q & A with Alexandra Machinist, an agent with the Linda Chester Agency. If you like what you read and want to learn more, sign up TODAY for her class, “What Agents Wish Every Author Knew.” The class is this Saturday at the WLT from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

How did you get started in publishing?
I heard about a literary agent through a friend of my parents’. Once I knew about the job, I realized it was for me. I badgered the literary agent until he gave me a summer internship!

What’s the average number of submissions you receive in a month?
Wow, that’s mathematically beyond me. I get between 40 and 50 queries a day now.  So somewhere around 1350. And that doesn’t include recommendations from friends and authors I hunt down myself.

If you could give writers one small piece of advice about the world of publishing, what would it be?
READ!!!! Read more. And then keep reading. Until you have read wide and deep you will not understand the marketplace and the value or lack thereof in your work.

Who was your first client?
J. Sydney Jones, a wonderful writer of literary thrillers that take place in historical Vienna.

What was the first project you sold?
THE EMPTY MIRROR, J. Sydney Jones’ first book in the series.

What do you love most about your job?
Treasure-hunting. The fact that every day brings such enormous potential!

What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?
Not reading enough. Thinking an idea is incredibly original because they don’t know the market.

What is a little known fact about yourself?
I can’t whistle. I’ve tried and tried. That talent eludes me.

What book are you reading right now?
David Mitchell’s newest–The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. And the new Richard Dawkins. And a Nalini Singh romance. I am always reading a million books at once.

If you could have a beer or coffee with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?
Margaret Atwood. She blows my mind with every novel every time.

Beer or coffee?
Beer.

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