An Interview with Agent Erin Harris
Erin Harris is a literary agent at Folio Literary Management who represents literary, upmarket commercial and historical fiction, as well as YA and narrative nonfiction. Erin received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and enjoys working with both debut and established authors. She is particularly drawn to fiction set against the backdrop of another time, place, or culture; fiction with mystery or suspense in its DNA; and fiction that includes an element of magic. On the nonfiction side, she looks for compelling narratives that reveal underlying yet unexpected truths about our world.
Erin will be one of our Featured Agents at the Writers’ League of Texas’ 2015 Agents and Editors Conference.
Erin Harris: My approach to working with writers is hands-on and 360 degrees. I graduated from the creative writing MFA program at the New School, so I’m quite editorially inclined and will work with an author to get her manuscript or nonfiction proposal into the best shape possible before going out on submission. I like to be very communicative and transparent during the submissions process, and then after the book is sold, I will help my authors navigate the various stages leading up to publication, including: website design, social media, publicity, etc. I take the long view, and I’m interested in building career-long relationships with my authors.
Scribe: If a potential client could do one thing to make the experience of working together even better, what would it be?
EH: An ideal client is always communicative, gracious, and open to feedback. She’s a team player.
Scribe: What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to receiving submissions, reading work, etc.?
EH: It’s frustrating to receive queries for projects that fall outside the genre you represent. It’s important for writers to research agents carefully, and let the agent know why you’ve decided to contact her.
Scribe: You often hear that it’s the first ten pages – or even the first page – that sells a story. Is there something particular that you look for in those first few pages?
EH: I look for a strong and authoritative voice to grab hold of me and not let go. I want something to be at stake instantly, so I feel invested in the narrative and its characters. And I want to feel utterly transported, so that I miss my subway stop or forget to eat lunch.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
EH: Read. Read voraciously. Especially in your genre, but also outside of it. Books are the best teachers, and it’s important to support the industry!
Scribe: Tell us about a project you took on, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on, because there was something special or unique about it that you couldn’t say no to. Or, tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an editor or agent.
EH: The most exciting moment in any agent’s career is when she gets to deliver good news like, “We’ve got a book deal!” or “They’re optioning your debut novel for film!” No matter how many times you go through the process, no matter how many books you sell, you never become desensitized to this moment; this moment always feels so pure, and precious.