Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pub Talk: Rita Rosenkranz

Literary Agent Rita Rosenkranz

Agent Rita Rosenkranz met me at her spotless Upper West Side home office at the ungodly hour of 8:15 a.m. (the only time I had left) on the day I left New York. Rosenkranz was an assistant editor at Random House and then an assistant managing editor, after which she was a managing editor at Scribners, then editor-in-chief at Outlet (then part of Crown, which is now part of Random House).

I started off by asking her what mistakes authors tend to make. Her response:
Relying on their publisher in old-fashioned ways: assuming they can depend on their publisher fully steering their campaign. They can spend too much energy being frustrated with the publisher and losing traction. Then it's too late to go to Plan B--which should have been Plan A.

If I have to spend too much time giving pep talks to authors, it means they don't have a fire in the belly that I can trust. Publishers are attracted to authors whose projects have built-in momentum. One of my business writers estimates that she spends 30% of her day on marketing [which is about right].

The agent's job has magnified on a macrocosmic and microcosmic level. I have a lot more to do now. I have many first-time authors for whom there is a longer learning curve, as I need to introduce them to the basics of the industry. When an author is naturally media savvy, I know the book stands a chance. I’m attracted to the content, of course, but an author’s marketing savvy plays a significant part too.

My work brings me joy. I do a lot of editing before a book goes out to publishers--sometimes multiple rounds. My reputation is based on it; I want to make a sale. I also want the author to appreciate the need to upgrade their work, and, where needed, to learn the mechanics of good writing.

1 comment:

Lisa Plumley said...

Interesting post, Bella! Rita Rosenkranz's perspective is one I'm hearing more and more from agents these days. Definitely something to think about!