“I think of the author/agent relationship as a marriage…we’re in it together, and if there’s no trust there, it won’t work.”
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 26th Annual A&E Conference, taking place June 28–June 30, 2019, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Rayhané Sanders
Rayhané Sanders is a literary agent at Massie & McQuilkin and an independent book editor with over 10 years of industry experience. She began her career at Newsweek Magazine, before moving to book publishing, working for Penguin’s Dutton and Gotham Books and then for William Morris Endeavor, where she worked closely with veteran agent Dorian Karchmar. Rayhané began to represent authors at WSK Management, adding a New York Times bestseller to her list, before moving to Massie & McQuilkin in 2015. She represents literary, historical, and upmarket book club fiction; narrative nonfiction; and memoir. Her clients include bestselling, award-winning authors Lidia Yuknavitch, Janet Beard, Devin Murphy, Jonathan Weisman, Margaret Malone, and others. As an independent book editor, she offers a wide range of editorial and consulting services to help emerging writers polish their fiction and non-fiction projects to attract agents and publishers.
Scribe: What is your approach to the author/agent relationship?
Rayhané Sanders: Ideally, I will sign a client on for the long term, which is to say, over multiple books. Even if I love a single book, I like to know what an author is working on next, what their ideas are. I think of the author/agent relationship as a marriage…we’re in it together, and if there’s no trust there, it won’t work. I’m very honest with my authors—and blunt as well. If something’s not working in a manuscript, it’s no use to beat around the bush about it. We have to roll up our sleeves and address the problem—I’m a very editorially hands-on agent.
Scribe: Are there specific elements that draw you to a project?
RS: I love an immersive story that transports me into a fully realized world. I love a strong, assertive voice from page 1—one that makes me laugh or chuckle with its wry, keen observation nearly always draws me in.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent project you’re excited about!
RS: Lidia Yuknavitch’s story collection, Verge, will be coming out with Riverhead in Spring 2020. She is so talented at delivering us right into what may be an average quotidian scene—in one story, a line of cars at a fast-food drive-in—and animating the depths of a person’s internal world, which are as complex and dramatic as any fantasy realm.
Scribe: And also, what’s a novel that you recently fell in love with?
RS: Jamie Weisman’s debut novel, We Are Gathered, comes out in paperback with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in June 2019. Longlisted for the JQ Wingate Literary Prize and nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award, the book takes place over the course of a hot, humid afternoon wedding in Atlanta, told from the perspectives of the various guests…it’s such a great conceit, and peopled with delicious voices.
Click here to read our 2019 A&E Conference agent bios.
Click here for more information on the 2019 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 28-June 30) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.