Today, we’re interviewing literary agent Beth Phelan of The Bent Agency. Thank you, Beth, for being here today.
Me: How did you become an agent?
Beth: I was a late bloomer. I knew I wanted to work in publishing, but I didn’t really know how to get started or what I wanted to do. A friend of mine worked on the same floor as Levine Greenberg Literary Agency and scored me an internship. I fell in love completely, and have since worked at the Scott Waxman Literary Agency (now Waxman Leavell Literary) and Howard Morhaim Literary. As a full agent at the Bent Agency, I couldn’t be happier.
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?
Beth: It really depends on the state of their work. Authors should be prepared to revise. I’ve seen author/agent relationships crumble because some authors are unwilling to make changes that an agent thinks are necessary or they take it too personally.
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?
Beth: I’ll always love YA. I’m dying to see a YA novel about a family of Doomsday preppers and the fallout after the Rapture doesn’t happen. I would also love to see more magical realism. These days, I also don’t get enough cookbook or food-related submissions but am flooded with middle-grade submissions, though I’m not really looking for that right now.
Me: What is one thing about you that a writer would be surprised to learn?
Beth: This is really tough to answer. I think anyone, writer or otherwise, would be surprised by just how much I love dogs.
Me: Best piece(s) of advice you can give a writer we haven’t talked about yet?
Beth: Hone your writing and use critique partners. Polishing your manuscript before querying can make a world of difference. You don’t want simple errors to deter an agent from signing you up. Perfect your work to the absolute best of your ability.
Me: Are you open to submissions? If so, how should a writer go about submitting?
Beth: Yes, I am open to submissions! Authors should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a query letter and 10 pages embedded in the email.
You can find Beth’s agent bio here. You can also follow Beth on Twitter: @beth_phelan