Today, we are lucky enough to have Lisa Rodgers on the blog. Lisa is a literary agent at JABberwocky Literary Agency. Thank you, Lisa, for being here today!
Lisa: This is a slightly long answer… I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to build my skillset, since I lived in California, so did what I could to show my interest in the field (worked at a book review after college, volunteered as a submissions reader for a short story magazine, attended book conventions in my area, etc). I recently moved to NYC to attend NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute. I met a number of great people in the industry there, which is how I ended up interning at a (different) literary agency and that lead to my current position at JABberwocky.
Me: Many of my readers are aspiring authors and are actively looking for their first agent. Can you tell them a little bit about what the author/agent relationship is like? What can they expect after they sign with an agent?
Lisa: I think it’s fair to say that, generally, it’s a close relationship. How close depends on the specific author and agent involved, which will affect what you can expect. You may be asked for a round of revisions (or two) before the agent thinks it’s “ready” to go out on submission. Your agent may also be looking for other places to sell your manuscript (like audiobooks or foreign translations), but that depends on a variety of factors and may not apply equally across the board.
You can expect your agent to be your biggest fan and advocate, someone who works hard to make sure you and your manuscript are taken care of. Your agent is also the person you can go to for questions about your current (and future) manuscript ideas, or anything else related to your writing career.
Me: What are you looking for right now in fiction submissions and not getting? Are there any subjects or genres that are near and dear to your heart? And on the flip side, what are you getting too much of?
Lisa: I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, and JABberwocky specializes in those genres, so they’re quite near and dear to my heart. I’m always looking in those genres. Specifically, I’d love to see some more space opera.
I didn’t realize for a long time, but I really love stories that blend the science fiction and fantasy genres. For example, C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy seems like your general fantasy-with-magic, but the backstory includes a colony spaceship crash-landing on the planet and the survivors adapting, or some other science fiction-based backbone (ditto for Tarah K. Harper’s Wolfwalker, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, and Melanie Rawn’s Exiles series). I’m not seeing a lot of this in my submission box, and I’d love to see more. I’d also love to see the reverse, where it’s a science fiction story with a fantasy backbone. I can’t think of examples of that, though, alas.
Things I’m getting a lot of include mysteries/thrillers, and things with angels. I don’t explicitly state what I’m *not* looking for, but those are two things that haven’t really clicked for me yet.
Me: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?
Lisa: I love to knit and crochet! I’ve been knitting for 10 years (oh my, where has the time gone??) and crocheting for about 3. I will not admit to purchasing that spinning wheel, or making wool into yarn, or knitting that yarn into hats. I definitely did not do that.
Me: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?
Lisa: Read widely in the genre you’re writing in, from many different decades. You not only need to know what’s out there currently, but you also need to know what’s been done before.
Me: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?
Lisa: I’m currently closed to unsolicited submissions. I’ll be re-opening on January 6th.
You can find Lisa on the web here:
Agent Page: http://awfulagent.com/agents/lisa-rodgers