“In a new project, I’m always looking for something fresh that’ll stand out. A unique hook and a great voice are crucial.”
–Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein
Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 23rd Annual A&E Conference in June, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein
Senior agent and president at McIntosh & Otis, Elizabeth has degrees from New York University and Manhattan School of Music. She began her book publishing career in subsidiary rights and then took on the responsibilities of acquisitions editor at a major audio publishing imprint. Initially, she joined McIntosh & Otis to manage all subsidiary rights but began working as an agent shortly thereafter.
Elizabeth’s primary interests include literary fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, and mystery/suspense, romance, along with narrative non-fiction, history, and current affairs. Elizabeth represents numerous New York Times bestsellers, and both Agatha and Edgar Award winners and nominees.
Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein: I’m very hands-on. I love connecting with my clients over the phone to discuss their projects – it’s very important for me to have that connection where we can bounce ideas off each other with an organic immediacy that doesn’t quite work over email. The author-agent relationship is grounded in proper communication so I make sure to always be on the same page as my clients.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
EWR: In a new project, I’m always looking for something fresh that’ll stand out. A unique hook and a great voice are crucial.
Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?
EWR: It’s definitely important nowadays. Social media has proven to be a fantastic way to promote authors and their works, as well as an avenue through which fans can further connect with their favorite books and those books’ creators. I think we find it disheartening when we want to learn more about an author and there’s nothing available. A solid social media presence increases momentum, furthers interest, and allows for a wider reach. While it’s probably possible to be a successful writer without social media, it’s much more beneficial to have that platform.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
EWR: My one piece of advice would be to do your research. There are plenty of great writers out there, and lots of them don’t do their research, which often ruins their chances with an agent. Maybe they don’t know enough about the genre they’re writing in, or don’t know how to format their query properly, or don’t know how to write a good synopsis, or didn’t look into and follow the agency’s submission guidelines, or queried someone who doesn’t represent their type of work. Agents fit in reading queries when they can – they have a million other things to do for their current clients. So, when your query is your precious few minutes of an agent’s time, as a writer, it serves you best to be as prepared as possible. Do your research throughout the writing and querying process so you can put your best foot forward when the time comes.
Click here for more information on the 2016 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 24-26) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.