An Interview with Literary Agent John Rudolph
John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management will be one of our many amazing featured agents at this year’s upcoming Agents and Editors Conference. Find out more about John, as well as what he represents, by visiting our Featured Agents page and reading our Q&A below.
How would you describe your personal approach to working with a writer/client?
John Rudolph: While every client relationship is unique, I’d say I try to take a professional approach more than a personal one. I know some agents become besties with their authors, and that’s fine, but that’s not how I typically interact with my clients. That said, I do work closely with all my clients to prep their work for submission and I strongly believe in transparency throughout the submission process. And, of course, I’ll fight to the death for their rights.
If a potential client could do one thing to make the experience of working together even better, what would it be?
JR: Send cookies. Lots of cookies. Brownies, too.
What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to receiving submissions, reading work, etc.?
JR: My name is spelled Rudolph, like the reindeer. Not Randolph, Rudolf, Rudloph, or any other permutation. I know, it’s petty, but misspelling an agent’s name in a query shows a lack of attention to detail and/or copyediting, which are key assets for a good writer.
You often hear that it’s the first ten pages – or even the first page – that sells a story. Is there something particular that you look for in those first few pages?
JR: I don’t think there’s any one thing. Strong, active storytelling is always attractive, as is a sense of characterization right off the bat. And of course, a killer first line can go a long way.
If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
JR: Remember that publication is a very long process and typically involves a lot of rejection along the way.
Tell us about a project you took on, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on, because there was something special or unique about it that you couldn’t say no to. Or, tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an editor or agent.
JR: I’m about to shop an adult literary novel that grew out of a collection of connected short stories. Now, I haven’t read short stories since high school, nor have I shopped any fiction on the adult side that would be considered literary. But the author was referred to me by a client, and as soon as I dug into the MS, I was blown away by the gorgeousness of the prose and the stunning variety of characterization. And while it’s taken the author a long time to complete the transformation from collection to novel, the result has definitely been worth the wait. I’m so excited to see where it will end up!