“I want writers to know that it’s often better to wait for the right thing than to jump for the first thing, and part of my job as an agent is to empower them to do just that!” –Maggie Cooper, Aevitas Creative
In 2023, the WLT is launching a new year-long virtual program, the Agents Symposium. As we look ahead to the year of monthly events with literary agents – taking writers step by step along the journey to publication – we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our featured agents here. To register for Maggie Cooper’s presentation, click here.
An Interview with Maggie Cooper
Maggie Cooper is an agent with Aevitas Creative Management, representing fiction and select nonfiction animated by imagination, empathy, and joy. She is actively seeking genre-bending literary fiction; beautifully told queer stories; and smart, feminist vacation reads. Her other passions include unclassifiable book projects, food and cookbooks, and well earned happy endings—particularly for characters underrepresented in mainstream publishing.
After working in the worlds of small presses, academic publishing, and literary journals, Maggie came to Aevitas in 2018. Based in Boston, 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.
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 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. I want writers to know that it’s often better to wait for the right thing than to jump for the first thing, and part of my job as an agent is to empower them to do just that!
Scribe: What excites you the most about the publishing industry today?
MC: It sometimes feels like we are living in a golden age of queer fiction, and I’m so happy to be in a world where writers are being given room to explore the fullness of their experiences and the experiences of their characters. There is still lots of room for improvement, especially in trade publishing, but it’s heartening to see a greater number and a greater variety of queer books on shelves!
Scribe: Tell us about a recent book/project that you worked on that excited you and you want everyone to know about?
MC: I love all of the books that I work on, but I’ll highlight a new release: Mac Crane’s I KEEP MY EXOSKELETONS TO MYSELF (Catapult), a gorgeously written debut about a queer mother raising her child in a dystopian surveillance state. The book was a January Indie Next pick, and I’ve been so delighted to see it connecting with readers!
Looking ahead, Jessica Martin’s enemies-to-lovers rom com THE DANE OF MY EXISTENCE (Berkley) comes out this July, and I’m excited for readers to get to return to Bard’s Rest, New Hampshire, which also featured in Jess’s debut FOR THE LOVE OF THE BARD, and which we’ve been describing as the Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow ~plus~ a town-wide Shakespeare obsession that makes for lots of comedy and romance!
Click here for more information on the 2023 Agents Symposium, an event that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.