Where does a literary agent find new author clients? What are specific examples of query letters that really catch an agent’s attention? We get into all of that (and so much more) with today’s special guest: Eric Smith.
He’s an author, blogger, podcaster, and literary agent for P.S. Literary. As an author, his first humor book, The Geek’s Guide to Dating, was an Amazon 2013 Best Book of the Year selection in Humor, as well as a Best of the Year pick by PopSugar and Wired’s GeekDad. He’s also the author of the young adult novels “Inked” and its sequel “Branded”. Eric’s newest Young Adult novel “The Girl and the Grove” was just released this month.
You know I love picking our guests’ brains, and I give Eric a million and one brownie points for being so transparent, genuine, and generous during our conversation.
Get ready to dive into the nitty-gritty and happy listening!
Books & Resources Mentioned in Eric’s Episode:
Across The Universe by Beth Revis
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Internment by Samira Ahmed
When the Beat Drops by Anna Hecker
Meet Me Halfway by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson
#DVPitch: Twitter pitch event that encourages marginalized diverse voices to tweet about their books
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Check out these highlights:
- Flashback: Eric’s earliest memory of when he first fell in love with storytelling [6:00]
- The light-bulb moment when Eric discovered his immediate connection to the YA voice and audience [11:23]
- How his job at Quirk Books led to his first book deal for “The Geek’s Guide to Dating” [12:43]
- How to approach opportunities working in different areas of the literary world [13:41]
- Is it necessary for our listeners to build a digital platform for ourselves? [15:06]
- Fun random side note in the episode: We talk about my big road trip move from California to New York and how we were hearing about each other through the community meetups in Chicago and Ann Arbor! [17:34]
- What prompted Eric to look into being a literary agent [19:05]
- Cameo featuring the one and only Auggie [19:50]
- Eric’s early days as a literary agent, learning how to negotiate for his authors, and how negotiations are made [21:37]
- Where Eric finds new author clients to bring on [23:26]
- What kinds of stories attract him most when bringing on new representation [24:55]
- Example of a great hook used to describe a novel to editors [30:39]
- Eric unpacks the “hook, book, cook” idea of writing query letters and grabbing the attention of literary agents [31:15]
- Two specific exemplary examples of query letters that caught Eric’s attention [32:27]
- What comp titles are and why they’re important to include in your query letter [35:10]
- How Eric develops and guides his authors’ careers and his role as an agent [38:38]
- We dive into our listeners’ Q&A segment of the episode (If you’d love to submit your questions for upcoming guests, join our private Facebook group):
- As a disabled writer working on an #ownvoices YA novel I would love to know: What does he feel is the most important part of a novel that is written by someone who shares their character’s marginalization?
- As a white cisgender person, I have a hard time writing outside of my lane mainly because I’m worried it isn’t my place. Is there any advice he can give about writing diversely, while also being respectful of the fact that you are not part of those marginalized groups?
- Who is more helpful as an assistant: Langston or Auggie?
- Positive voices can be so hard to find in the confusing, tortuous, and anxiety-riddled labyrinth that is publishing. How do you stay human in an industry that can feel at times so dehumanizing with goal posts always moving and the only certainty is uncertainty?
- I would love to know a little about anthology editing: How do you go about finding the authors to write the stories on the theme; where does agent representation come into it; and how you find an editor to publish the work?
- Does he have any tips for writers balancing full-time jobs?
- Please ask him how his corgi is doing for me because I am very invested thanks.
“The way you promote yourself is the way you promote other people.”
Say ‘Hi!’ to Eric!
Learn More About “The Girl and the Grove”
Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve. But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park.
Learn More About Eric Smith
Eric Smith is an author, blogger, and literary agent in Ann Arbor, Michigan. By day, he can be found working as a Literary Agent for P.S. Literary. Curious about what he’s looking for? Check out his wishlist. What he’s worked on? Here are his recent deals. When he isn’t seeking out new voices and their writing, he fusses over his own.
His first humor book, The Geek’s Guide to Dating, was published by Quirk Books in December 2013, and was an Amazon 2013 Best Book of the Year selection in Humor, as well as a Best of the Year pick by PopSugar and Wired’s GeekDad. He still can’t believe that happened. It was an IndieBound bestseller and has since sold into eight languages.
His debut Young Adult novel, Inked, published with Bloomsbury’s digital imprint, Bloomsbury Spark in January of 2015. The sequel, Branded, was published in May 2017.
He also occasionally dabbles in short stories, and his anthology, Welcome Home, was released in September 2017 with Flux Books. It features a number of amazing authors, like New York Times bestselling rockstars C.J. Redwine and William Ritter.
His next novel and first print Young Adult book, The Girl and the Grove, will be out with Flux in May 2018.
You can listen to him twice a month on Book Riot’s HEY YA podcast, co-hosting with Kelly Jensen. He’s also occasionally blogs for Book Riot, Barnes & Noble’s Blog, Publishing Crawl, and Paste Magazine, writing mostly about YA books.
Before he became a literary agent with P.S. Literary, Eric could be found at Quirk Books, an indie publishing house in Philadelphia. Here he had the honor of working with a number of awesome people, New York Times bestselling authors, and scores of wonderful books, like William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Last Policeman series, and the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies series.
Eric holds a B.A. in English from Kean University and an M.A. in English from Arcadia University, two schools he adores. He uses those fancy degrees to teach composition and mentor MFA students at Arcadia University from afar. His Mom keeps his degrees hanging in his childhood home, and won’t give them back.
In another life, he used to photograph and tour with rock bands. He was a serious scene kid and even once won a photography award from Alternative Press. Don’t believe the scene cred? Check out this Silverstein music video. See someone familiar? That should tell you enough. A native of New Jersey (don’t hate), he currently lives in Ann Arbor after ten years in Philadelphia and one year in Richmond. His writing is represented by Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary.