Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Q&A with Michelle Wolfson, Super Agent

Remember that Question and Answer I promised you with Michelle? She's such a good sport, she got right back to me with answers to your very deepest questions. At least as far as agenting is concerned. If she knows the meaning to life, she hasn't told me yet. Maybe I should go call her about that one...

Without further ado, your questions and Michelle's answers.

Do you realize how lucky you are to be representing Laptop's captive?
Note from Kiersten: Michelle initially signed Laptop as a client, and we met through him.) What first attracted you to Kiersten's work?

Yes, I definitely realize how lucky I am to be representing Laptop’s captive. And while I am eternally grateful to Laptop for introducing us, I have noticed that Laptop can be a little, ahem, cranky sometimes, so I’m glad that Kiersten is my actual client! As for what first attracted me to Kiersten’s work, obviously she wrote a great query letter which grabbed my attention, but as for the work itself, I guess I would say that I was very drawn to the premise (this is Flash we are talking about). I have always had very commercial taste and I think that it was just an incredibly well written, interesting read. However, regarding Paranormalcy, I think that first and foremost, Evie’s voice just shines and makes it an unbelievably fun read. Add to that a whole host of fabulous characters and an intricate plot (I just love the International Paranormal Containment Agency) and you have an incredible read. It’s really been amazing to watch the positive reactions from virtually every reader.

(Note from Kiersten: As Michelle put it, we have something of a mutual admiration society going on. Can you blame me for loving my agent so much?)

What made you want to be an agent?

Well, I have always loved to read, but as you may know there’s quite a bit more to it than reading. But I went through several jobs/careers on the way to being an agent, picking up skills left and right, and agenting is finally the career where I was able to apply all those skills towards something I love—books! I started to list everything I’ve done but it took up enough space for 6 posts so let’s just say that I have a little experience doing a lot of different things which is the perfect background for agenting since every day is different and you never know what’s going to come up. But the challenge of new and different issues is one of the things I love most.

Do you wear a cape while agenting? Because the way Kiersten raves about you, her readers kind of think you do.

So, I work from home and tend to be pretty casual (Michelle’s laptop is calling this a gross understatement) when I don’t have meetings. A cape sounds nice, so sure, let’s say I wear a cape. I like that. I liked those sparkles too, so yes, please imagine that those follow me everywhere I go.

How would you recommend a newbie writer choose a good agent?

Well, if you are in the lucky position of having a choice of agents, I think that, to some extent, you should go with your gut (assuming you have done some initial research and you are talking about a choice between reputable agents). You should ask questions to get a sense of each agent’s style and ask about his/her methods and plans for your book and/or career. The agent-author relationship can be a very close, important, and long-lasting relationship. Editors can move around from house to house, your books may move from house to house, but if you are lucky, you may be with the same agent throughout the course of your career (hint hint Kiersten, you are stuck with me!). I think that it’s most important to have someone who understands what your goals are and then will go to bat for you again and again to help you achieve them.

(My book was out with two other agents when Michelle offered to rep me. After talking with her on the phone, I felt like we really clicked and definitely had that gut instinct that she was the agent for me. And trust me, she's NEVER getting away from me...)

Is it more difficult to sell a series than a stand alone book? Should writers try to leave the story open so it can be turned into a series/trilogy if requested?

No, in fact I think it is usually easier to sell a book that can be a stand alone but that has series potential. And if yours is like that, you should definitely say so up front. However, not all books need to be part of a series.

How long does it take you to read a client manuscript if working on revisions?

I double checked with Kiersten to make sure I wasn’t about to lie on this one, but she confirmed that I usually respond pretty quickly. As a rule, I prioritize client reads above all other reads, so when you email me to ask why I haven’t gotten back to you on that requested partial from a few (or more) months ago, this is why. If I had to give an actual timeframe, I’d say it would depend on what else I had going on at the moment (somehow everyone always seems to turn in revisions at the same time and then I have to prioritize even within clients based on what’s going to go out first or who might have something currently on submission, etc.), but I would say it could be anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks, with the absolute longest usually being about a month.

Are you seeing a lot of YA manuscripts? What changes are you seeing in this genre? Are certain genres--for example, Urban Fantasy--oversaturated?

Well, since Kiersten’s deal was announced I’m seeing an overwhelming number of YA queries--thanks, Kiersten! And by far the majority of them are paranormal. I would say that there are fewer vampire queries, although I’m not sure if that’s because vampires are finally slowing down or if my distaste for them has become well known enough. There seem to have been a bunch of angel books lately and just more unusual paranormal ideas floating around I think. And no, I don’t think Urban Fantasy is oversaturated quite yet.

Are you finding it harder to sell with the economy and cutbacks?

I’ve been finding that I have to work harder for my sales as a general rule. And I am finding that, in some cases, books that I think would have sold a few years ago are either not selling or are having a much harder time selling. But you are all here through Kiersten’s site, and she is proof that if you write a kick-butt (see Kiersten, I cleaned up my potty mouth for you) book, it will sell no matter what the “hot” genre is now or what the economic forecast is. So stop reading these questions and get to work writing! Oh but wait, make sure you read the next question because that one is super critical for success.

Can we be friends if I bake you cookies? (Note from Kiersten: Any cookies offered to my agent must also be sent to me. It's part of our contract. Right, Michelle?)

I’ve always been more of a brownie fan, the gooey-er (how the heck (again note clean language) do you spell that word???) the better. And yes, Kiersten, you get 85% of the brownies—and the calories! HA!

(I'm not sure whether to be pleased or suspicious... Also, can you see why Michelle and I clicked?)

What books/genres would you really like to see right now?

See economy question, but to sum up, I want to see amazing books. Great writing is the key. So get out there and write great and good luck to you all!

I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say thanks, Michelle! And isn't my agent just so freaking awesome?


Natalie said...

Aw, Michelle is so cool. Not that I'm surprised, since you hang out with all the cool people.

DebraLSchubert said...

You two sound like twins separated at birth! I SO hope I find an agent I click with like you and Michelle (The Dynamic Duo). And thanks, Kiersten, for posting my question first. It's good to see you've kept your priorities straight in light of your recent fame and fortune.;-)

Also, thanks, Michelle, for your great answers. It's easy to see you two are having FAR too much fun together! I'm happy for you both. Enjoy!

Nick said...

Kiersten, in a future post will you please provide a diagram of the relationship between you, Laptop, Hot stuff, Michelle, and anyone else that is interconnected enough to necessitate being in the diagram? I think that would help us a lot.

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

She sounds like she's an absolutely perfect fit for you, Kiersten. Congrats again on the book deal. Can't wait for the book to hit shelves. I'll definitely be buying it when it comes out.

Thanks for the Q&A. It's always helpful to read these sorts of things. Gonna bookmark this one for sure.

Marsha Sigman said...

Thanks Michelle for answering all our questions and thanks Kiersten for posting all of it and giving us the chance to pick your agent's brains!

She is freaking awesome and I see why you love her!

Kristi said...

Thanks Kiersten and Michelle. When I'm ready to query, I think I'm going to have to add a question for potential agents - "Do you like brownies?" I really don't think I could have a long-term relationship with someone who didn't. :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Nice chemistry, you two.

Stephanie Perkins said...

What a fun interview! You're both so sparkly. I'm happy that you and Michelle have such a great bond :)

Renee Collins said...

Fun interview! Michelle seems as awesome as you've always said. :)

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

great interview...michelle is very open and personable. gotta love that in an agent. :)

Where Romance Meets Therapy

Lisa said...

Thanks Michelle!

Jessie Oliveros said...

That was fun to read. I wanted it to to keep going and not stop. Maybe she will come back. Do Michelle's laptop and your laptop get along, too?

Nadine said...

Loved reading this! Thanks Kiersten for doing this, and thanks Michelle for answering!

*goes to buy a gooey brownie mix*

Amanda The Semi-Published said...

Fascinating interview. I want an agent with sparkles and a cape. :)

Rachel said...

Thanks so much, Michelle (and Kiersten, of course)! That was very thoughtful and thorough, and I really appreciate everything you said. Especially the part about brownies.

Megs said...

Your agent IS awesome. The end. No doubt about it. Thanks Michelle, for letting us get to know you a little better!

Whirlochre said...

Venn diagram of mutual zest — or two-woman two-hoop hula?

Laura Martone said...

Thanks, Kiersten! That was a wonderful interview - both hilarious and informative. And I can definitely see why you and Michelle mesh so well. Like Debra, I hope to find an agent that clicks with me like that.

Congrats again for all your success! And, thanks, Michelle, for being so personable!

lora96 said...

You two are just effervescent together!!! Congrats on such a positive collaboration.

Thank you for the answers. Very encouraging.



Liam said...

We love Michelle!
And laptop. My laptop is jealou,s which is why I don't do this on her...

CKHB said...

I think I would spell it "gooey-er" as well, because "gooier" just looks so wrong.

You two are obviously perfect for each other. Congrats to both of you!

candicekennington said...

I love hearing from people who know of what they speak. Thanks, Michelle!

c.n.stephens said...

That is some very useful advice. What a thoughtful agent. I wish I could have thought of a really clever question.

lotusgirl said...

Michelle, it's so nice to finally meet you. We've heard so much about you! I'm gooey brownie girl myself and I can seriously make some kick-butt (note the clean language) brownies. Kiersten, thanks for sharing a small glimpse into your relationship with Michelle. She sounds like someone I might have to query someday.

Tara said...

Great post! Thanks for the fun Q&A.

CMOM Productions said...

I love the great banter between you two!

Living, Learning, Eating said...

Michelle is too cool! I wish she was my agent, too :) Brownies, sparkles, books - I have to agree! I'm crossing my fingers on a partial right now *hopes, hopes, hopes*