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 Tricia Skinner
Tricia Skinner is an Associate Agent working with Fuse Literary co-founder Laurie McLean. 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.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Tricia Skinner: As an author myself, I’ve had similar experiences to the writers I interact with and consider for representation. 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”). I also like to understand what’s happening in an author’s life that may impact the work they’re doing with me. For example, a stay-at-home parent may homeschool their children. If that’s the case, I want to give them plenty of time to schedule meetings with me, or I try to get as much flexibility in their manuscript deadlines as possible so they aren’t overly stressed.
I read all manuscripts from my clients, send back edits, etc. It’s a very hands-on approach, but I’ll never be intrusive. The goal at the end of the day is for us to sell a project together. I want my authors to see they’re not alone in the process.
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 Even if a writer is unpublished, I want to see that they have a website and a developing social media presence.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 (no, I can’t get you a lunch with Oprah).
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. Writing 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 first book deal doesn’t let you retire from your day job, don’t put away your writing instruments.
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.
I was contacted by Tracy St. John, a self-published author of erotic science fiction romance. Her work was already known to me because I was a fan. I had been reading her Clans of Kalquor series for a while, so when she reached out, seeking an agent, I couldn’t believe it! I wanted to work with her because I truly love her work. That was one of the first incredible moments of my agent career. To have an author I admired choose me to be her business partner was an incredible feeling.
— Thanks, Tricia!
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.