Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 23rd Annual A&E Conference in June, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Agent Ann Collette
Ann Collette was a freelance writer and editor for 15 years, regularly contributing to over 30 publications, before joining the Rees Literary Agency in 2000. Her list includes books by New York Times bestselling author B. A. Shapiro, Edgar nominee Ashley Weaver, Oprah’s “Unputdownable Mysteries” author Mark Pryor, Anthony Nominee Vicki Lane, RT Award Nominees Clay and Susan Griffith, and Steven Sidor.
She likes thrillers, literary, upscale commercial women’s fiction, historical and mystery; in non-fiction, she prefers narrative non-fiction, military and war, work to do with race and class, and work set in or about Southeast Asia. She also represents pop culture, humor and memoir. Ann does not represent children’s, YA, sci-fi, or high fantasy (Lord of the Rings-type books).
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Ann Collette: When it comes to my clients, I’m very hands-on. I read all queries myself, and if something interests me, I request to see chapters two and three. If two and three also work, then I ask to see the entire novel. When I love a novel, I’ll work on editing it, which sometimes include line editing. All of my authors are kept 100% up-to-date on the status of the submission process–I celebrate with them if they get an offer and commiserate with them if they don’t. No question is too small, and most get a response the same day. I’m always open to going over anything that’s concerning my author and try to be a constant source of support and encouragement to them!
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
AC: Talent’s only part of it. There needs to be well-crafted prose, strong voice, intriguing subject matter, and a basic understanding of how the publishing industry works. By that I mean someone who understands what an author, an agent, and an editor’s job is comprised of. No inflated egos or refusal to listen to advice, please!
Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?
AC: Definitely. Authors need to know how to promote themselves. In a query, I like to see the author is on Twitter or Facebook and, ideally, also has a website or blog because that’s what an editor would be looking for.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
AC: From an agent’s perspective, I would say that writers need to know if their work is a good fit for the agent they’re querying. It’s also important they know the genre of the book they’ve written. From my personal perspective, over-the-top self-promotion (“My book is the most hilarious, laugh-out-loud, pee-your-pants funny fictional novel you have ever read in your life, one that’s bound to become a New York Times bestseller!”) is the biggest turn off of all.
Scribe: Tell us about a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an agent.
AC: B.A. Shapiro’s novel The Art Forger didn’t sell on the first round, but Algonquin eventually bought it. When it debuted in the number eight position on the New York Times bestseller list, I felt a sense of pride and a deep satisfaction that I’d kept my faith in this work.
— Thanks, Ann!
Click here and here to read our 2016 A&E Conference agent & editor bios.
Click here for more information on the 2016 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 24-26) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.