An Interview with Agent Will Roberts
Will Roberts joined the Gernert Company team in 2008 after working at Vintage Books and, before that, at a newspaper in Jackson, WY covering the courts and police department. He is currently looking for smart, original thrillers with distinctive voices, compelling backgrounds, and fast-paced narratives.
Will will be one of our Featured Agents at the Writers’ League of Texas’ 2015 Agents and Editors Conference.
Will Roberts: To be supportive, but also honest and straightforward in my advice. If I feel certain things aren’t working, or could be better, I’ll let them know. I think it’s a mix of looking at the big picture (pacing, character development, etc…) but also zeroing in on certain details so the writer has specific examples of what I think is effective (or not) within the larger framework of the story.
Scribe: What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to receiving submissions, reading work, etc.?
WR: I tend to dislike works that feel derivative, or ones that feel like they have been constructed for an elevator pitch.
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?
WR: I’m looking for an originality of style and perspective where the characters feel real and nuanced and the details of the setting feel lived-in and palpable. Also, an avoidance of cliches and shortcuts, and a knack for pacing so the reader can get lost in the story.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
WR: To write what feels necessary and essential to them—and not worry about how it might fit into trends or its saleability.