Don’t you love how small the world is? I was raving about Truly Madly Guilty this summer, and the next week Ken discovered that his friend’s wife, Faye Bender, is the literary agent for Liane Moriarty (not to mention a number of other authors). I had the privilege of interviewing Faye and finding out more about literary agents and the writing world. Take a look!
What is a literary agent? How does it work?
As a literary agent, I represent authors. The essence of my job is to sell an author’s novel to a publisher, but it actually goes far beyond that in scope. I work with authors editorially, often over the course of many drafts until we agree that it’s ready to be shared with editors. I connect the right material with the right editors – it’s a bit like matchmaking since responses to fiction are so subjective! – and then negotiate the best deal for my author. Once the publisher is on board, I brainstorm marketing and publicity ideas, authors to approach for blurbs, cover design options, etc. And concurrently, I work with co-agents around the world to sell translation rights and film rights to my authors’ books. The size of an agent’s client list can vary widely, but I represent around 35 authors.
Liane Moriarty cranks books out every year and they are always best sellers — do you help her with the ideas? Discuss them with her? How does ONE person have so many ideas?
Liane is actually on an every-other-year publication schedule, but paperback editions are typically published about one year after the hardcover has come out, so perhaps it might seem like she’s got new books more often?
Liane has a brilliant mind full of terrific ideas and funny stories – in fact, every time I see her, I learn something new and unexpected about her, and I’ve known her for 12 years! – and I never know much about what she’s writing until she’s more or less written a complete draft. Some authors want feedback or a back-and-forth or brainstorming help but it’s an entirely personal thing to do with one’s creative process.
Liane is Australian — does she live there now, and do you travel there frequently?
Liane is Australian and lives in Sydney. I’m sad to say I’ve never been to visit her, but we’ve been lucky to have her here in the US several times.
Do you read for fun outside of your job? If so, who is your current favorite author and what is your current favorite book? (or top 3 books you would recommend this fall)
I do read for fun outside my job, though to a certain degree, it’s always still something to do with my job (I can’t help but know the editor or agent, or think about the decision behind the cover art, or season of publication, etc.). The best book I’ve read recently for pleasure is Colson Whitehead’s THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, which is magnificent and a book that my children’s children’s children will read. Colson is married to my business partner and dear friend, Julie Barer, so we at The Book Group have been extra excited to watch it succeed in such a significant way.
Where do you buy your books? Do you support local small bookstores? Mega Amazon.com? Or are you shipped any book you want under the sun?
I am lucky to live close to the fabulous BookCourt in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and as a family, we do all of our book buying there. A trip to the bookstore is a huge thrill for my kids and we easily spend two or three hours in there without realizing more than 30 minutes have passed…
Do you watch any TV shows or movies to counter balance reading? If so, what shows do you like and why?
I love television and there’s so much that’s great right now! I love Catastrophe, Silicon Valley, Game of Thrones (this latest season got me back on board), The Night Of…and of course, I will be watching the HBO limited series Big Little Lies based on Liane’s runaway bestseller, set to air early in 2017!
Thank you so much, Faye! We can’t wait to check out your book and TV recommendations.