Meet the Conference Faculty: Agent Sarah Phair

“Reading and researching the genre you want to write in is extremely important. “

-Sarah Phair

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 25th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 29–July 1, 2018, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.

An Interview with Sarah Phair

Sarah Phair began her career in publishing at Trident Media Group four years ago after completing her M.A. in Literature. She spent two years learning from and assisting two domestic agents before being promoted to Audio Agent, and then to a sales agent in Trident’s Foreign Rights Department. In this position, Sarah contacted international editors to pitch Trident authors and negotiate deals on their behalf. Now, Sarah is building her own client list. She is interested in all women’s fiction, literary fiction, and narrative non-fiction. She is most attracted to stories that are thoughtfully plotted and explore different aspects of lesser known experiences.

Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Sarah Phair: I like to be hands on editorially. It is my belief that it’s important to get the manuscript to as close to perfect as possible before sending it out on submission, so it’s possible that I will do a few rounds of edits with an author. I like to brainstorm with my authors and encourage them to bounce ideas off of me. I’ve also been known to assign some reading “homework” to my clients because I think it’s important to read your peers.

Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?

SP: I am looking for debut writers who are looking to build careers. It’s important for debut authors to stay up to date and read within the genre they want to publish. It’s also helpful if writing and language play a role in their daily life (through their day job, online writing, critique group, etc.).

Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

SP: Reading and researching the genre you want to write in is extremely important. An agent/editor can always spot writers who are attempting to work in a space that they don’t have any personal experience with, and it’s very off-putting.

Scribe: Has there been a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on? 

SP: I’m working with a client now who has a novel with a reality TV plotline. This subject isn’t something that normally interests me, but the writer has an amazing sense of humor, and she has an uncanny ability to critique pop culture. It was so fun to read that I just couldn’t pass it up!

Scribe:  Tell us about a recent book that you worked with–you know, brag on one of your writers!

SP: The first book I ever sold on my own is coming out in April. It’s called Don’t Call Me Cupcake by Tara Sheets. I loved this book because she really nails the rom-com genre, which can be so difficult to do. It will be her debut, and I’ve loved going through the whole process with her.

Thanks, Sarah!

Click here to read our 2018 A&E Conference agent bios.

Click here for more information on the 2018 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 29-July 1) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.

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