“Just try to stay on brand, whatever your brand is.”
-Kristin van Ogtrop
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 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Kristin van Ogtrop
Kristin van Ogtrop is the former editor-in-chief of Real Simple and an agent at InkWell Management. Under her stewardship, Real Simple became the #1 American women’s lifestyle magazine brand with a print and digital reach of 25 million and was nominated for 15 National Magazine Awards. Kristin’s blog, “Adventures in Chaos,” was nominated for a Media Industry Newsletter “Best of the Web” award, and in 2014, she was named by Fortune magazine as one of the “55 Most Influential Women on Twitter.” She is a contributor to the New York Times bestseller, The Bitch in the House and the author of Just Let Me Lie Down, published by Little, Brown. As an agent, she will represent memoir, commercial women’s fiction, humor, lifestyle and big idea books driven by counterintuitive thinking.
Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?
Kristin van Ogtrop: It really depends on the author. Sometimes I am the conductor and sometimes I’m head cheerleader. But in all cases I am here to support, encourage, advise, edit (early and often) and offer gentle course correction when needed.
Scribe: Are there specific elements draw you to a project?
KO: It always helps when I have a personal connection to an author or an idea. Right now I find myself working on three projects (two narrative nonfiction and a memoir) about upstate New York, which I know I sparked to initially because I love the Adirondacks. I’m working on a memoir about service dogs, and I happen to have two released service dogs as pets. I love anything that stands out from the crowd: either a really unique idea, a unique treatment of an old idea, or a really distinctive voice.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!
KO: I am about to send out a memoir in verse about a writer’s lifelong struggle with food addiction. It came to me as a blind pitch, and it’s clever, a bit funny, and a bit sad. Sort of a perfect combination of weird and wonderful.
Scribe: And also, what advice do you have for writer’s using social media?
KO: Oh, I don’t know. Don’t post anything that will make people hate you, unless that’s your method of getting eyeballs and the reason people might want to buy your book. Just try to stay on brand, whatever your brand is.
Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.
Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.