Full disclosure: Literary agent Lucy Childs Baker and I don’t just share the same first name. We also share . . . a family! Lucy, an agent at the Aaron M. Priest Agency, is my cousin. She’s actually the person for whom I was named! Since I started working in publishing, I’ve relied on her analysis, her advice, and her good taste in books. Lucy is looking for new writers to represent in several literary categories workshopped here on Book Country. Read on to find out more about Lucy’s literary tastes and how to query her with your manuscript.
LS: Tell us how you got into the business of agenting.
LC: I was an actress in a previous life (for 25 years). I wanted to change careers for a variety of reasons and my cousin suggested agenting since I’ve always been a voracious reader with eclectic taste. I had to start somewhere, so I began managing the office at the Aaron Priest Agency. After learning everything I could about publishing – a completely different world from the theater! – I became an agent after four years.
LS: What kind of books do you really connect with as a reader?
LC: Mostly literary fiction, and although it’s a cliché, really anything that’s well written with a juicy story. Just finished THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt which I loved. Ruth Ozeki’s novel, A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING is also a recent favorite.
LS: You represent Women’s Fiction—one of my favorite genres, and one that can sometimes be tough to define. For you, what does “Women’s Fiction” mean?
LC: Of course, there’s Romance, which I represent, but there’s also that other category – those books that hover between Romance and Literary Fiction with a strong woman’s voice. I’m always looking for terrific fiction in that specific area. Tougher than you think!
LS: What kinds of books and authors are you looking to represent?
LC: Women’s fiction, as mentioned above. No more romance, thanks. I would also love to see a brilliant memoir. But more than the subject matter, the voice has to be outstanding.
LS: What is the number one thing about a query that you cannot stand?
LC: Overly long query letters that don’t get to the point. As agent-extraordinare Molly Friedrich always says, “Write the best letter of your life.” Don’t be cute. Don’t be funny. Don’t be long-winded. SPELL CORRECTLY AND BE GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT. And never say “fiction novel.”
LS: You’ve been agenting for a long time, though a lot of changes in the publishing industry. What is the thing that has most changed for you in your role? What is something that has endured?
LC: There are several things – fewer publishers, fewer imprints, eBooks. Simple answer for a very complicated question. The bottom line is that publishers seem to be buying fewer books for less money.
LS: How should Book Country members query you?
LC: Through The Aaron Priest website. Please read the information there!
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