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DECEMBER 2014 SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

Linda Scalissi,
3 Seas Literary Agency

 

Scalissi WG:      Welcome, and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month.   To start off, please tell us a bit about yourself.  

 

LS:      This past October, I joined Three Seas Literary Agency! I am fortunate to be mentored by two amazing agents, Michelle Grajkowski and Cori Deyoe! My comfy home office is located in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, just five minutes from the beautiful capitol of Madison.

WG:      Can you tell us why you decided to pursue a career as an agent and what steps you took to get you where you are today?

LS:      I've always been a voracious reader. My favorite summer outing as a child was walking to the library and checking out books. Such a thrill to have a library card. The neighborhood kids and I would grab blankets, spread them under the shade of a tree and read our summers away.

Years later, my best friend Cori became a published author. This spiked my interest in the publishing industry. She went on to become a successful literary agent. I loved listening to her tales of agenting, intrigued by the process she described. When I heard 3 Seas Literary Agency was expanding, I asked her more about the role of an agent as it was something I wanted to be involved with. It seemed the perfect fit as it brings together all my strengths - business, writing, relationship building and networking!

WG:      Are there any genres you have absolutely no interest in representing at this time?

LS:      Poetry and erotica

WG:      Do you represent any authors of non-fiction? If so, have you been successful in selling their projects? If not, is this a market that interests you?

LS:      I do not, but would definitely consider representation if the topic appeals to me.

WG:      What genre(s) do the majority of your recent sales fall into? Has this changed over time? How so?

LS:      3 Seas primarily represents romance, women's fiction, genre fiction (mysteries and thrillers) and children's books. We would love to expand into more non-fiction as well.

WG:      What publishing houses/lines have you sold to in the past 12 months?

LS:      We have sold into all the major publishing houses, as well as smaller, niche publishers.

WG:      Approximately how many clients do you currently represent and what is the ratio of published to unpublished?

LS:      3 Seas represent more than 60 authors. Personally, I signed my first!!

WG:      Are you actively seeking out new authors, and if so, what would it take to catch your eye?

LS:      Yes! I'm looking for a compelling story, that hooks me from the start and characters I can root for.

WG:      How would you describe your agenting style? What is your involvement with the author's creative process? With his/her career planning? Or is your relationship strictly the business side of contract negotiation and as author/editor interface?

LS:      I intend on being a very hands on agent, helping my clients will all of their needs. I love to analyze manuscripts and brainstorm plots. Career planning is key! I've learned a lot talking to Cori and to Michelle about the business. I can't wait to share my knowledge with my authors and to sell their books so together we can build their careers.

WG:      Do you enjoy one of these roles more than the others?

LS:      I love it all!

WG:      Given that you feel an individual author's manuscript is marketable, how important is it that you personally like the work in order for you to pursue acquiring it?

LS:      It is so, so important that I connect with the author's voice. In order to successfully sell a project, I feel I need to be 100% engrossed in the project. For example, if you are an ice cream salesman, but hate ice cream, when a potential buyer asks which flavor is the best and you can't answer honestly, you are not doing anyone any favors. I want to love the works that I'm selling!

WG:      How often do you provide feedback to your clients on the status of their submissions?

LS:      Since I don't have any clients on submission yet, this is a toughie to answer. But, I can say that I will do my best to keep my authors in the loop every step of the way. Michelle has taught me that every author is different - some like to talk on the phone, others prefer email. I am very flexible and will work with my clients however it works out the best for them.

WG:      What is your process for submitting work to editors? Is this different if the editor is one you've had no prior contact with as opposed to one you've already built a working relationship with?

LS:      Thankfully, Cori and Michelle have my back! When I'm ready to submit, they will introduce me to the editors they believe I should approach. I also plan on attending RT and RWA Nationals this year so I can meet editors in person as well.

WG:      How do you feel about sending a particular work to multiple houses simultaneously?

LS:      It really depends on the project. If something is super-special and really fits best with one editor, I may suggest we send to that editor exclusively. But, in most cases, I believe I will be submitting to multiple houses at once.

WG:      Once a work has been sold, do you provide any input to the author and/or editor in the area of marketing and promotion for the book?

LS:      Yes, communication is key in this business, and I will make sure that I'm kept in the loop on all marketing conversations between my author and the publisher. I also would love to help brainstorm new marketing opportunities.

WG:      What do you see as the personal strengths you bring to the table in the agent/author relationship? In the agent/editor relationship?

LS:      I love to build strong relationships. I'm so excited to dive in!

WG:      Do you feel that writers' conferences provide significant value to you in the way of networking with authors? With editors?

LS:      Absolutely! Cori and Michelle have told me that it's really important to attend conferences - it's a great way to meet with authors in a low key setting, and also to sneak away time with the editors as well.

WG:      Have you ever been involved in the sale of movie rights? Foreign rights? If so, did you handle this yourself or did you work with someone more specialized in this field?

LS:      My agency has - we work with various co-agents to help sell subsidiary rights.

WG:      Realistically, what is the normal timeframe for your response to queries? Partials? Fulls?

LS:      Our goal is to reply to queries within 2 months.

WG:      Do you feel an agent based in New York has a significant advantage over one who is not? Why or why not?

LS:     Not anymore. With phones, emails and travel, we are able to maintain strong relationships with editors no matter where we live.

WG:      What sort of misconceptions/ unrealistic expectations have you encountered from authors about what an agent's role is?

LS:      Personally, I haven't experienced this yet, but I think that open, two-way communication is key. Things often begin to feel messed up if everyone isn't on the same page!

WG:      In your opinion, when is the right time in an author's career for him/her to start actively looking for an agent?

LS:      When they feel their manuscript is ready to be published. If authors send too early and their manuscript is unedited, they aren't really putting their best foot forward. We receive more than 1,000 queries a month, so to really stand out, an author needs to be armed with a strong, polished project.

WG:      What piece of advice or 'pearl of wisdom' would you like to offer authors who are considering approaching you (or any agent) for representation?

LS:      I think the most important thing is to be genuine and professional. In order to help writers, I need to really understand who I will be working with.

WG:      Do you think contest credits help authors further their career before and/or after making that first sale? Have you ever acquired a client that you discovered via a writing contest?

LS:      Funny you should ask! Michelle just took on a new client a couple weeks ago she discovered in a contest. She's also let me help her read a contest so we were able to discuss the entries. It was a really interesting activity! I think that contests are a great way for writers to get in front of an agent or an editor.

WG:      Do you visit the websites and blogs of authors you work with or of authors you are considering working with? If so, is there something in particular you look for that potentially impacts your view of the author and their work?

LS:      Yes - social media is so important! It's always nice to put a face with a name before you offer representation. A good website/blog/Facebook page is professional and engaging.

WG:      How important do you think self-promotion is to a writer's career? Is there a particular area of promotion that you feel is most effective?

LS:      Getting your name out there to increase discoverability is key in today's marketplace. It used to be so easy to find books - you would head to your local store, and the shelves were plump full. Now, with electronic publishing at the forefront, it's getting harder and harder to be "visible" without strong marketing support from your publisher. So, yes, anything an author can do to be found online is important. Facebook, Twitter, websites, blog posts, reviews, Instagram and Pinterest are great ways to interact with readers.

WG:      When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

LS:      My goal was to have large home with an even larger yard so I could take care of any unwanted animal.

WG:      What do you do to relax and have fun?

LS:      Read! How much more fun could one have than incorporating their favorite pastime into a career! Other than that, I enjoy spending time with my husband and dogs. We relax by hanging out at home, observing activity at our many bird feeders and competing as we watch "Wheel of Fortune" or playing pinball. I love hosting family gatherings for our kids and spending as much time as possible with good friends!

WG:      Other than your client's work, what do you enjoy reading?

LS:      I gravitate toward women's fiction, but enjoy most all genres. The most recent book I read was Gone Girl - loved it!

WG:      What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?

LS:      I'm currently hooked on Resurrection. It has interesting characters as well as an interesting story line. Otherwise, I love to laugh when being entertained. My top TV comedy choice of this season is The Goldbergs.

I have many "favorite" movies, but I'll go with one I've loved since childhood, It's a Wonderful Life. I haven't seen it in a couple years now, but pretty sure I can recite nearly every line as I watch it. It's endearing, humorous at times and includes a bit of fantasy. The themes I treasure from the movie are each person's life is significant in more ways than they realize, the less fortunate can prevail over the well-to-do fiends and of course "No man is a failure who has friends." We could all use a Clarence to show us the way, at one time or another.

WG:      Before we close, is there anything else you'd like to mention about yourself or the agency?

LS:      I'm so excited to be part of the blog. Thank you Winnie! I can't wait to bring on more amazing writers.

WG:      Is there a website you can point us to where folks can go to learn more about you and/or your agency?

LS:      http://threeseasagency.com/

WG:      Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit in this month's spotlight. It was delightful 'visiting' with you here.

 

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