Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Agent Matchmaking – with Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown Ltd.

(I'm sorry about the broken links! I'm trying to fix 'em.)

The search for a literary agent who’s right for you starts here. Meet San Francisco-based Nathan Bransford of the well-respected Curtis Brown Ltd literary agency. His clients include Rebecca S. Ramsay and Brad Geagley. He’s professional, smart, gracious, responds to queries promptly, knows the market, and he just might be your perfect agent match. (Just don’t accidentally send him private emails that were meant for your sister.)

1. What was the first project you sold and to which publishing house?

The very first book deal I handled was a reprint deal for four of John Preston's books, which I sold to Cleis Press. Preston was a pioneer in gay fiction. Curtis Brown had represented him until his untimely death, and continues to represent his works on behalf of his estate. Young agents are often given the responsibility of handling reprint deals, and this is the first one that came my way.

2. Please list the types of projects you specialize in.

I am a bit of a generalist, and I'm interested in a wide variety of genres, including literary fiction, commercial fiction (including mysteries, suspense, science fiction and historical fiction), narrative nonfiction, sports, politics, current events, pop culture and, if that's not broad enough, I also include a caveat for anything else I happen to like.

3. On average, how many new clients do you take on each year?

I'm a young agent and am actively building my list, but I am also very selective about who I take on, so this complex formula results in two or three new clients a year.

4. What's your average response time for queries, partials and fulls?

I almost always respond to queries within a day, sometimes quicker. Partials usually take me a week or two, and fulls can take between two and three weeks.

5. Tell us about the wackiest query you've ever received? If you haven't been lucky enough to get such a query, how about the best query ever?

I have definitely my share of wacky queries, although I'd hate to make fun of an aspiring writer so I'll dodge that question and go for the "best" one instead. The best one I received was from an LA Times bestselling writer, and let's just say when I saw "LA Times bestseller" in the subject line I was extremely excited. I was even more excited when I opened up the email and saw that his work was right up my alley.

6. Are you in favor of lower advances/higher royalties?

This depends a great deal on the particular project and publisher, so I don't know that I have a standard opinion on this one.

7. How often do you keep in touch with your clients?

It depends on the needs of the clients. I'm always available when my clients need to reach me, but how often I speak with them depends on whether there are submissions or negotiations underway, or if things are quiet.

8. Have you ever taken on an author whose work you adore, even though you know there's no market for their book...yet?

No, I only take on clients with projects I think I can sell.

9. You have a soft spot for clients who...

Are as professional as they are talented. Luckily all of my clients fit this description.

10. You shriek when authors...

I shriek when aspiring authors don't take the time to research the agents they are querying. There is a wealth of information online, and you would be very surprised at the number of authors who don't take the time to Google the agents they are querying and personalize their query letters.

11. I don't have time to........, but I'll roll up my sleeves and do it if.....

I don't have time to read all of the manuscripts on my desk and in my inbox, but I'll roll up my sleeves and do it if I work a few twelve-plus hour days.

Thank you for your time, Nathan!

If Nathan sounds like a good (professional) match for you, please head to his MySpace profile for details on how to query him. I recommend reading his witty, insightful blog first, which you’ll find here.

Okay, I'm at a complete loss. Blogger wins again. Try these:


Anna Campbell said...

Brilliant interview, Vanessa. Thank you, Nathan!

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