Before joining the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency as an Associate Agent in 2011, Linda Epstein read manuscripts, book proposals, and queries at Folio Literary Management; was Submissions Manager at the McVeigh Agency; and interned at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and also Meryl Zegarek Public Relations. A very active member of the NYC Chapter of the WNBA, Linda co-edits The New York Bookwoman, and is the editor of this blog! She graciously agreed to be our guinea pig for the blog’s first member interview:
Erica and Hannah: You’ve recently become a literary agent! What lead you to make this career change and how has it impacted your life so far?
Linda: Well, I’ve been working toward my goal of being a Literary Agent for quite a few years now, reading slush for other agents, interning at some great agencies, writing reader reports, editorial letters and submission letters, so it’s a natural progression to finally be an agent. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to begin my career as an agent at The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. Jennifer is absolutely fantastic, so encouraging and supportive.
Being an agent has impacted my life in a bunch of ways, but the most dramatic, I think, is that I don’t really have the leisure to just pick up a book that I heard about and I might want to read. Between screening queries, reading submissions, reading and editing my client’s manuscripts, and making sure I’m familiar with other books similar to that of my clients’, I don’t have a lot of time left to just read for pleasure. Honestly though, I kind of love it. I’m pretty happy reading all the time!
Erica and Hannah: What is your favorite part about working with the WNBA?
Linda: My favorite part of working with the WNBA is the camaraderie with the other members. I’ve met some fairly fantastic people and I’ve really enjoyed the events that I’ve helped put on and the ones that I’ve attended as a participant. It’s great to be able to hang out with other women who love and work with books in one way or another. I also feel very proud knowing that I’m a member of an organization that came directly out of the Women’s Movement of the early 20th century. The Women’s National Book Association was formed in 1917 by 15 women booksellers who were excluded from the all-male Booksellers League annual convention. I think that’s pretty cool.
Erica and Hannah: What has been your favorite project to work on throughout your career?
Linda: Whatever I’m currently working on is my favorite project. I don’t take on anything lightly. I jump all the way in. So I have to love whatever I’m working on to be working on it. That would make it my favorite project.
Erica and Hannah: What is your biggest guilty pleasure book?
Linda: I’m not sure what a guilty pleasure book is, because I think just about anything is fair game to read. I guess I feel guilty when I’m reading something that’s not for work. So recently I read A Game of Thrones, and I don’t represent fantasy books like that, but I totally enjoyed it, even though I felt like I shouldn’t be taking the time to read it. And that definitely does NOT mean I want people to start querying me with fantasy books like A Game of Thrones. Please don’t.
Erica and Hannah: What’s the most common mistake you find authors make when submitting manuscripts and query letters?
Linda: Authors make quite a few mistakes when querying and submitting manuscripts. The most common is submitting to an agent that doesn’t represent the genre that they write in. I have unequivocally stated that I don’t read thrillers, and it’s just that I don’t connect to them, I don’t care for that type of a story. But people keep sending me thrillers. I don’t like having to reject people, but I really, truly don’t like or represent thrillers. So that’s a mistake. With query letters, authors need to remember that a. it’s a business letter, they’re not writing to a pal, and b. if it’s too long, I stop reading. There are about a million places on the internet that give advice on how to write a good query, so they really have no excuse for not writing one.
Erica and Hannah: We all know you love books, but what’s your favorite TV show or movie?
Linda: I’m very selective in my television viewing. Currently, my favorites are Downtown Abbey, Mad Men, True Blood, A Game of Thrones, Bill Maher and The Daily Show.
Erica and Hannah: If you could go on tour with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?
Linda: That would be the Grateful Dead. Yup. Un hunh.
Erica and Hannah: Do you have any hidden talents?
Linda: That’s a secret.
Erica and Hannah: What is your favorite word?
Linda: penultimate or clandestine or slurpy
Erica and Hannah: What inspires you creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Linda: That is such a complex question to answer. I think I’m most inspired creatively by extremes. Sometimes that’s emotional extremes, like passion, hate or love. Sometimes it can be extreme circumstances or extreme beauty or poverty. Spiritually, I become inspired when I get present to the present. Emotionally, I’m very inspired when I witness people overcoming adversity, whether that’s on a personal level in their daily lives or on a grander scale, like for communities and the planet. I think that basically I love people and I have hope that as a species we can get our act together before we destroy ourselves. That carries over into the kind of books I like to read, the kind of art I like to look at, the movies I watch, the music I listen to.
If you want to read more from Linda, visit her blog, The Blabbermouth!
To find out what Linda is looking for in a manuscript, go to jdlit (dot) com.