Meet the A&E Conference Faculty: Liz Parker

“I look for breadth of interest in stories and for someone clearly driven to write more than one book.”

-Liz Parker

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 Liz Parker

Liz Parker explored a variety of areas in publishing before joining InkWell Management in June 2015. In the years leading up to June 2015, Liz worked in the editorial department at Viking Penguin, was a scout with Maria B. Campbell Associates, and was the publishing director of Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press in Berkeley, CA. Liz is actively signing authors of commercial and upmarket women’s fiction and narrative, practical, and platform-driven non-fiction. While Liz reads everything under the sun, she is most on the hunt for the beach read.

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

Liz Parker: My two largest strengths are fantastic communication skills and editorial experience, so my approach consequently revolves around those two elements. I am very hands on editorially-speaking and work extensively with authors before starting a submission. And, in an industry where passes are far more commonplaces than offers, the one thing I can control is how and when I communicate whatever information I have to an author.

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

LP: I look for breadth of interest in stories and for someone clearly driven to write more than one book. I also look for writers who know and understand their community.

Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?

LP: I think social media presence for those authors savvy and fluent in that language can help launch their career. However, for those authors who either don’t have the interest or don’t have the fluency (and aren’t interested in learning), then a creative and methodical approach to marketing sometimes proves just as effective. Basically, going after social media at half steam doesn’t necessarily garner results.

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

LP: Don’t assume your first book will sell, even if you love it, your family loves it, and your agent loves it. With that in mind, be prepared to write a second book before the first book sells.

Scribe:  Tell us about 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; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an editor.

LP: I recently took on a podcast, even though I don’t listen to a lot of them, and even though I don’t represent any other multimedia properties. However, at its essence this podcast is about sharing otherwise unheard stories, which is what I aim to do as an agent. It’s new territory, yet utterly fitting for what I’m trying to do.

Thanks, Liz!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

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.

Meet the A&E Conference Faculty: Jodi Warshaw

“Never imitate. Draw from your own unique experiences to write from unusual angles and perspectives.”

—Jodi Warshaw

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 Jodi Warshaw

Jodi Warshaw is an Executive Editor with Lake Union Publishing, the book club fiction imprint of Amazon Publishing. Her recent bestsellers at Lake Union include Elizabeth LaBan’s The Restaurant Critic’s Wife and Ann Howard Creel’s While You Were Mine, and her forthcoming titles this year include Catherine McKenzie’s Fractured, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s Say Goodbye for Now, Maddie Dawson’s The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, Nancy Star’s Sisters One, Two, Three, and Loretta Nyhan’s All the Good Parts.

Jodi acquires book-club fiction across the gamut from historical to contemporary women’s fiction. Currently, she is focused on acquiring issue-oriented fiction in the vein of Barbara Claypole White’s The Perfect Son and Lisa Genova’s Inside The O’Briens.

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

Jodi Warshaw: I tend to be very hands-on throughout the editorial and publishing process. There are so many steps a book goes through before it is released to the world. It can be an overwhelming process, and I try to be sure my authors are supported throughout.

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

JW: Earlier this year, Lake Union published Elizabeth LaBan’s debut adult novel The Restaurant Critic’s Wife. I knew immediately that Elizabeth’s manuscript was something special. It was truly unique: a fresh take on self-reinvention. I loved what Elizabeth had done with the concept of lost identity—in the novel, a career woman marries a restaurant critic who literally asks her to hide her identity to help in keeping his a secret! It was a thrill to see the media and readers come to the book with such enthusiasm (so well-deserved by Elizabeth), and I’m pleased to say we have a new novel coming from her in January 2017 (Pretty Little World)! I’m always seeking truly original stories paired with strong voices. At the moment, I am particularly interested in acquiring book club fiction, with an eye toward domestic suspense, family dramas, and cultural heritage.

Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?

JW: When an author has the time and drive to build and maintain a social media presence, it can be an extremely effective tool. But not every author is comfortable on social media, or has the time, so in my experience, it’s more important for authors to find their own way of building and connecting with their fan base, whatever form that takes.

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

JW: Never imitate. Draw from your own unique experiences to write from unusual angles and perspectives.

Scribe: Tell us about a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it.

JW: Last summer, I received a Civil War era submission, and even though I wasn’t looking for a historical novel at that time, I decided to take a look. The next thing I knew I was hooked! I couldn’t put the manuscript down. A gorgeously penned novel—with a premise I’d never come across before—about an escaped slave and an indentured Irish girl who forge a deep bond as they run from slave catchers and the Confederate army. It’s a love story, but not a romance. A war story, but not a battlefield drama.

I made a passionate pitch to our publisher, and successfully added it to Lake Union’s spring 2016 list. The novel is Edenland by Wallace King (on-sale May 18, 2016), and I can’t wait to see how readers respond to it.

Thanks, Jodi!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

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.

Meet the A&E Conference Faculty: Monica Odom

“I am looking for someone who has spent years laying down the groundwork for what is now a really cool idea, and they just need my guidance in bringing the project to a sell-able position.”

– Monica Odom

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 Monica Odom

Monica Odom joined Bradford Literary Agency in 2015. Monica is seeking: Nonfiction by authors with demonstrable platforms in the areas of: pop culture, illustrated/graphic design, food/cooking, humor, history, and social issues. She is also looking for narrative nonfiction in these areas, and some memoir. For fiction, Monica is interested in literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, compelling speculative fiction and magic realism, historical fiction, alternative histories, dark and edgy fiction, and literary psychological thrillers. She does not represent genre fiction.

Monica is serious about the fact that We Need Diverse Books and is looking for authentic representation of all characters, diverse or otherwise. She enjoys working closely with her clients on the editorial and developmental level to fine-tune manuscripts and proposals, and loves the process of managing a writer or artist’s career.

Monica-OdomScribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Monica Odom: I really consider the agent/author relationship to be like a business partnership. The author has a set of skills and talents to bring to the table, and so does the agent, and the proper combination of these two skill sets is what makes a successful working relationship. I am not a hand-holding agent. I prefer to let my clients work autonomously, reaching out to me as needed, with me checking in as their self-imposed deadlines approach. I also like to be as real and transparent with my clients and I expect the same of them. Ideally, I like my clients to feel that even if it is 3 a.m. and they have writers block, they know there is at least one person totally in their corner, and that’s me! But they also know not to call me at 3 a.m.

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

MO: The first thing I want to see is that the author is hard-working, dedicated and committed to making this a career. I am looking for someone who has spent years laying down the groundwork for what is now a really cool idea, and they just need my guidance in bringing the project to a sell-able position. I also want to feel inspired and touched by the excited energy of the author who is proud of their work and what they’re trying to achieve. These traits bring out the best agent in me.

Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?

MO: This is a tough call. I do think a social media presence is critical, but one does not need to be on all of the platforms, nor do they need to use it the same way as everyone else. Some people are so natural online, and it is hard to fake that. There are debut novelists who do not have a social media presence (ex. Ottessa Moshfegh), but usually there are articles written about the fact that these people are not on social media. So if you plan to abstain, you better have a solid reason (almost like a stance) for why you don’t want to take advantage of this new way to communicate with readers and for them to communicate back.

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

MO: Be patient! This is seriously so important. Be patient with yourself as you’re writing and creating. Be patient as you query, and as agents are reading. Be patient as you revise. Be patient when your work is out on submission to publishers. Be patient when you’re waiting for the signed contract and for that SIGNING MONEY. Although the publishing cycle has sped up in the past few years, it is still such a lengthy process, and you start to think in timeframes that go years into the future. Savor the moments in between.

Scribe: Tell us about 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; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an agent.

MO: I took on my first YA fiction this year, after wondering for almost three years if maybe YA wasn’t something I would rep. I definitely did not want to close the door to YA, because I just knew something amazing would come and I’d know it when I saw it, but there are also so many great agents out there doing YA and it’s a bit of a tough market. BUT I am so glad that I stayed open because I finally have this wonderful magical realism YA about a Mexican-American teenager who does tarot, and I literally raised my arms in triumph after signing the author. This goes to show that when an agent says something isn’t for them, sometimes it really is just not for them, the same way that when something is for them, they know it. Which is why authors should keep querying until they find a compatible agent for both their project and working style.

Thanks, Monica!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

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.

Meet the A&E Conference Faculty: Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein

“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.

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

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.

Thanks, Elizabeth!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

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.

Meet the A&E Conference Faculty: Jennifer Johnson-Blalock

“Keep writing! Publishing is a slow process at every stage–even after you get an agent, after you land a book deal, there will be long periods of waiting. The best thing you can do for yourself and your career is to keep writing and keep moving forward to the next project.”

-Jennifer Johnson-Blalock

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 Jennifer Johnson-Blalock

Jennifer joined Liza Dawson Associates as an associate agent in 2015, having previously interned at LDA in 2013 before working as an agent’s assistant at Trident Media Group. Jennifer graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before interning at LDA, she practiced entertainment law and taught high school English and debate.

Jennifer is acquiring both narrative and prescriptive nonfiction from seasoned writers with strong platforms. She also seeks commercial and upmarket fiction, especially thrillers/mysteries, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, young adult, and middle grade.

Johnson-Blalock HeadshotScribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Jennifer Johnson-Blalock: Ideally, I think the agent/author relationship is a partnership in which we’re working together to build an author’s career. Every relationship is a bit different due to varying communication styles, but essentially, I try to assist with both short-term problem solving and long-term planning to create the maximum chance for success for the author–as well as just being a reliable person in the author’s corner.  I often find that my role is to provide the business/market perspective to balance the author’s creative instincts and aid in decision making.

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

JJB: Primarily, a great book! If I fall in love with the manuscript, that’s most of the battle won. I also want to know that the author is working on other projects that sound intriguing, though, and I love authors who really use their resources to learn about the industry and have reasonable expectations based on their research.

Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?

JJB: In the long run, I think it’s important. Increasingly, readers want to feel connected to writers, and in addition to publicity gains, I think social media can also be a great place for writers to find support from one another. When I receive a query, though, social media presence is only vital to me if its nonfiction; with those projects, platform is one of my biggest considerations.

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

JJB: Keep writing! Publishing is a slow process at every stage–even after you get an agent, after you land a book deal, there will be long periods of waiting. The best thing you can do for yourself and your career is to keep writing and keep moving forward to the next project.


Thanks, Jennifer!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

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.

Meet the A&E Conference Faculty: Paul Lucas

“Strive to avoid cliché. That means figuring out what to cut, improving your craft, seeking critical readers and making your book the best it can be.”

-Paul Lucas

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 Paul Lucas

From his first days with books, Paul has loved the feeling of getting lost between the covers. He remembers reading in his closet with a flashlight after bedtime so his parents would think he had gone to sleep.

As an agent at Janklow & Nesbit Associates, he is actively looking for upmarket commercial fiction, specifically historical, thrillers, science fiction and fantasy. On the literary side, he likes reading narratives about immigration, ostracization, class, family and race. For non-fiction, he is drawn to narratives, learning new things and the occasional humor project.

Paul Lucas_Janklow (280x238)Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

Paul Lucas: It really depends on the author. Some are very engaged and personal, some are arm’s length and professional. There’s no right or wrong structure to the relationship. My goal is to find great and fun books to sell to publishing houses. Occasionally, they are ready when I get my hands on them. More often, they require revisions. This can happen either because the author has been sequestered and lacks distance/perspective from her work, or because she has been working with too many people (all those agents asking for different revisions! or beta readers, etc) and the manuscript has lost its focus.

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

PL: Strong writing, interesting story. I want my initial reading experience to be immersive. We can work on the rest.

Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?

PL: It’s not imperative and when it only consists of follow/follow-backs and advertising/promotion, it is pretty ineffective. No one likes subscribing to a channel of self-promotion. I think it works best when the writer has an active conversation with both the people who admire her and the ones that she admires. That’s organic, fun, and productive.

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

PL: Strive to avoid cliché. That means figuring out what to cut, improving your craft, seeking critical readers and making your book the best it can be. So many projects come across my inbox that the writer describes as unique but, with only a glance, it turns out to be (using polite terminology) derivative.

Scribe: Tell us about 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; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an agent.

PL: I do want to say first that many agents choose to specialize which allows them a greater depth of knowledge. There’s no sin in not straying from that and some of my attempts have led me in weird directions. With that caveat in mind, I did take on a project that was tremendously fun and had a great voice. That said, it falls into a category that never really broke out and has publishers a little skittish. Ultimately, we found the right editor for it and it has a great home. Maybe that’s a good example – taking on something that has supposedly crested a wave. I guess I feel happiest when editors and readers see past a book’s placement or genre and find themselves reading it for pleasure.

Thanks, Paul!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

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.

Meet the A&E Conference Faculty: Jenni Ferrari-Adler

“Above all I look for talent, a unique and compelling voice and story, a way with words, humor, authority, and insight into the human condition.”
-Jenni Ferrari-Adler

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 Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Jenni Ferrari-Adler is an agent at Union Literary. Jenni represents exciting novelists including Mo Daviau (Every Anxious Wave), and Brittani Sonnenberg (Home Leave); the agency’s award-winning food writers and food shops; YA and Middle Grade; Narrative Nonfiction, and other categories. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan and a BA from Oberlin. She edited the anthology Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone. She has taught Fiction at the University of Michigan and the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, and worked as a reader for The Paris Review and as a bookseller at Housing Works. Jenni is on the contracts committee of the AAR and is a member of The IACP.  Follow her on twitter: @jenferrariadler or contact her at jenni@unionliterary.com.

Jenni Ferrari-AdlerScribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?

​Jenni Ferrari-Adler: I work differently with different authors, depending on their needs and preferences, but I love to work closely and collaboratively. I like to edit and to work with the author to figure out how to best position their project. I’m transparent about the submission process. ​

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

JFA:​ Above all I look for talent, a unique and compelling voice and story, a way with words, humor, authority, and insight into the human condition. I also appreciate drive, the ability to revise, and kindness. ​

Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?

JFA: ​I’m going to say no … despite the many advantages it does give to writers who use it well. ​

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

​JFA: Be relentless about the work and patient too. ​Read widely.

Scribe: Tell us about 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; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an editor.

​JFA: A lot of projects feel like this; it’s part of the fun. I recently took on my first graphic work, Amy Kurzweil’s Flying Couch, and it will be published this October by Black Balloon. It’s a memoir, and the story and voice were up my alley but the format was new for me, so figuring out who to submit to, and how to talk about it, and even how to get the file not to be too unwieldy for editors was all new. Amy has recently gotten two comics accepted to The New Yorker; I am very proud.

Thanks, Jenni!

Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.

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.