“If your first book deal doesn’t let you retire from your day job, don’t put away your computer.”
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 24th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 30 – July 2, 2017, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Tricia Skinner
Tricia Skinner is an agent for Fuse Literary. She began her writing career as a newspaper reporter and wrote for The Detroit News, Investor’s Business Daily, MSN, and The Houston Chronicle. Tricia has 20 years of experience working with the video game industry in various roles, including public relations, industry relations, and writing/editing. She is also a hybrid author of passionate urban fantasy (represented by McLean). Diversity in genre fiction is dear to Tricia’s heart. As an agent, she wants to represent authors who reflect diversity and cultures in their work.
Tricia Skinner: I prefer to communicate frequently, touching base on projects and providing updates when I have them (even if the update is “no new info yet”). My clients will tell you I’ll pick up the phone or send an instant message just to say “Howdy.” Writing is so solitary. It helps to know your agent hasn’t forgotten you!
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
TS: Drive, career goals, and a sense of the business of publishing books. Even if a writer is unpublished, I want to see that they have a website and a developing social media presence. It’s easier (and more helpful) to find a debut author who “gets it.” The most important thing I look for is someone I can truly partner with. I don’t want divas, and I don’t want anyone lazy. I don’t want to have to drag someone along (this is their career, after all), but I also don’t want someone who’s harboring too many unrealistic goals. I prefer to work with authors who are open to new ideas and different perspectives.
Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?
TS: Yes, I do, but social media should be used in a smart way. Spamming people to buy your book is never a good idea. Neither is never updating your social media. Authors should understand the balance.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
TS: Think in terms of years. Publishing books is always going to be the first goal, but so is growing your career over time. All the quick fixes you’ve heard about, or mega deals, don’t happen to everyone. If your book deal doesn’t let you retire from your day job, don’t put away your computer.
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.
TS: This year, I was promoted to a full agent role at Fuse Literary. I had closed two new book deals, and I had planned to reopen to unsolicited submissions when it happened. For me, it was a formal acknowledgement of this career path being a great fit for me. I love what I do.
Click here for more information on the 2017 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 30 – July 2) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.