“I’m so happy to see trade publishers actively seeking out stories from perspectives that have been underrepresented in mainstream publishing up until now, and particularly, some great book deals for BIPOC and queer, trans, and nonbinary writers whose work I can’t wait to see reach a larger audience.” -Maggie Cooper
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 28th Annual A&E Conference, taking place September 17-19, 2021, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Maggie Cooper
Maggie Cooper is an agent with Aevitas Creative Management, representing adult fiction and select nonfiction projects. Based in Boston, Maggie joined Aevitas in 2018. She holds a degree in English from Yale University, attended the Clarion Writers Workshop, and earned her MFA in fiction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she served as an editor for The Greensboro Review. Prior to becoming an agent, she worked in the world of independent and university presses, as a bookseller, and as a teacher to students ages 10 through 85. Maggie is actively seeking imaginative, genre-bending literary fiction; capacious historical novels; beautifully told queer stories; and smart, feminist romance. Her other loves include epistolary novels, well earned happy endings, and narratives that disrupt cisness, whiteness, and the heteropatriarchy.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Maggie Cooper: My biggest priority is communication: nine times out of ten, I’m doing deep editorial work with my authors, which means that we need to build a relationship of trust from the get go, and my hope is that will translate into a long and beautiful collaboration where they feel comfortable coming to me with new ideas, concerns, or questions from the very beginning of our relationship through the publication of their first book and far beyond it.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
MC: I’m eager to work with authors who have done the work to learn about both their craft and the publishing industry. You don’t have to be an expert or spend hours researching editors online, but I’m looking for a baseline familiarity that indicates to me that a writer is ready not just to write, but also publish, a first book. That means that the writer is reading widely and connecting with fellow writers, in addition (of course!) to doing their best work on the page.
Scribe: What’s one piece of advice you find yourself giving to others time and time again?
MC: Patience! Writing and publishing take time, and I’m often talking to writers about how we can prepare for the long game, whether that is putting in the extra time to really polish a manuscript before querying or submitting, holding out for the right editorial match, or giving ourselves grace when things aren’t going exactly the way we want them to. That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be actively seeking out opportunities or working to make a book happen—but it does mean acknowledging when we need to adjust our timeline or expectations in order to make for the best possible outcome in the end.
Scribe: What excites you the most about the publishing industry today?
MC: I’m so happy to see trade publishers actively seeking out stories from perspectives that have been underrepresented in mainstream publishing up until now, and particularly, some great book deals for BIPOC and queer, trans, and nonbinary writers whose work I can’t wait to see reach a larger audience. At the same time, I’m energized by the ongoing work of small and independent presses to publish books that trade publishers shy away from—whether that means formally innovative, political, or otherwise boundary-pushing work.
Scribe: Tell us about a recent book/project that you worked on that excited you and want everyone to know about?
MC: I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on Marisa Crane’s debut novel, EXOSKELETONS, coming January 2023 from Catapult. I pitched it as BLACK MIRROR does THE SCARLET LETTER with a prose style reminiscent of Jenny Offill, and it’s an intoxicating blend!
In a totally different vein, I’m also so excited for Jessica Martin’s debut rom com, FOR THE LOVE OF THE BARD, which Berkley will publish next year—a witty tribute to Shakespeare, theater, and second-change romance that will be the perfect summer read.
Click here for more information on the 2021 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (September 17-19) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.