“If you can hook me on page one and make me regret every time I have to put the book down, chances are I’ll want to work with you!”
-Lauren E Abramo
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 Lauren E. Abramo
Lauren E. Abramo joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2005. As VP and subrights director, she maintains a small client list and sells foreign and audio rights for the agency. Her interests include humorous middle-grade, contemporary young adult, and upmarket commercial fiction and well-paced literary fiction on the adult side. She’s also interested in nonfiction, especially pop culture, psychology, pop science, reportage, media, and contemporary culture. Her list has a strong focus on books that engage in some way with social justice. In all categories she’s especially seeking authors from marginalized communities traditionally underrepresented in publishing.
Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?
Lauren Abramo: In general, my goal is to support my clients in whatever ways they need to do their best work. Some clients love the phone, others hate to feel like they’re on the spot. Some need space to develop their ideas without pressure or outside influence, others want me to set deadlines for them or give them feedback as they go. Some want to know as much as possible, some prefer having fewer details to stress about or want to focus on craft rather than business. So my approach is to be as flexible and adaptable as possible. My relationships with clients vary based on what the authors need from me to accomplish their goals.
Scribe: Are there specific elements that draw you to a project?
LA: Lots of things, but the key for me is voice. If you can hook me on page one and make me regret every time I have to put the book down, chances are I’ll want to work with you! There are so many things I can constructively edit, but the voice is really something the author needs to find for themselves, so it’s always a high priority.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!
LA: One book that I’m working on selling now is the story of a man who has the perfect life on paper, but he has a tenuous grasp on his mental health, his marriage, and his relationship with his daughter that’s buoyed only by the support of his best friend. That support leads him to ignore some pretty bold red flags about that friend, and when she winds up in prison and in debt to him and his husband for more than $20,000, both their lives come crashing down around them. It’s a wry and clever debut novel that nonetheless carries a lot of emotional weight and explores some complex ideas—the perfect combination in my book.
Scribe: And also, in your bio, you mentioned that you’re interested in novels that have a strong focus on books that engage with social justice. What’s a recent example you’ve fallen in love with?
LA: In nonfiction I represent authors like Ijeoma Oluo, Dylan Marron, Rabia Chaudry, and Robin DiAngelo, whose work either directly engages social justice concepts or simply incorporates them into the perspective with which they tackle other things. In fiction it tends to be more indirect. For example, Mason Deaver’s YA debut I Wish You All the Best, which comes out this May, is a novel about a non-binary teenager falling in love and coming to terms with being rejected by their parents. It’s both heartbreaking and joyful. It’s a story–and character-driven, not didactic, but the author made a conscious choice to center a non-binary protagonist in a love story with a happy ending.
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.