A Special Interview with Agent Adria Goetz!
It's August and we're officially kicking off our annual Awesome Openers Writing Contest! A portion of the proceeds is going to benefit the charitable organizations Room to Read and the Ecological Society of America.
One of our top prizes this year is a chance to skip the slush pile with literary agent Adria Goetz at Martin Literary Management! She was kind enough to stop by for an interview to share some fun insight on what she's looking for in a client, what her agenting style is, and some publishing inspiration in general! So, without further ado, here's her wonderful interview!
Q: Thanks for visiting with us, Adria! We’re happy to have you and learn a little more about you. We’d love to know what brought you to agenting.
A: I had a pretty boring, linear path toward agenting, to be honest. I applied for an internship with Martin Literary when I was 19 because I wanted to see the publishing industry from the agenting side of things, and I basically haven't left since. I interned for two years, was hired on as an assistant, and then was promoted to associate agent, and now agent. This agency is home to me!
Q: What is your client/agent relationship style like? Do you consider yourself a "hands-on" or an editorial agent?
A: I do consider myself a hands-on, editorial agent. I go through several rounds of edits with my clients and we'll do a bit of back-and-forth with a manuscript while we polish it up. I try to create a warm, communicative relationship with my clients so they feel comfortable asking me questions, and sharing their true thoughts and feelings. I also really value transparency, and err on the side sharing too much information. When a project is out on submission, my clients have access to the full list of publishers I've sent their project to—they'll know the name of the editor, the date I submitted, the date I followed up, what feedback the editor had.
Q: What are some of the things you look for in a potential client?
A: I always say I want to work with people who are kind, savvy, and patient. These character traits are of course hard to thoroughly suss out in the querying process and I won't really know what a person is like until I begin working with them, but I like to think I have a pretty good nose for it. Are they bashing other writers/books/agents in their query letter? They're probably not kind. Are their comparison titles all from the 90s? They're probably not savvy. Are they following up on their submission after only a few days? They're probably not patient. Some other tangible things I love seeing in a potential client: SCBWI member, in a critique group, engaging with and cheering on other writers on Twitter, showing me their personality in the author bio section of their query, the ability to write a great hook for their project.
Q: What are a few of your favorite books and do you have any special requests on your wishlist right now?
A: Right now I am particularly dying for mermaid books. I also have three types of books I'm always looking for:
1. Delightfully diverse books like Hair Love, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Julian is a Mermaid, Alma, Under My Hijab, and Honeysmoke.
2. Funny books like The Bad Seed, Dragons Love Tacos, and Maria the Matador.
3. Magical books like The Night Gardener, Ocean Meets Sky, The Antlered Ship, The Bear and the Piano, How to Make Friends with a Ghost, and The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.
My policy is always: when in doubt, send it to me! I'm always happy to take a look.
Q: Would you like to share any advice for querying writers out there?
A: Be patient, hang in there, let your work sit in a time marinade, read as many books as possible, keep writing new stories, pay attention to what kids talk about, and remember that you are loved and valued, even if you don't yet have an agent or a book deal.
Thanks SO much for sharing this, Adria!