Interview with Carly Watters

Q: How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?
I have been an agent at the P.S. Literary Agency since 2010 and was an agency assistant at the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency from 2009 to 2010.

Once I knew that I wanted to have a career in publishing I started to research the different aspects of the industry and fell in love with the idea that I could do a job that was a combination of all the things I loved about publishing: editorial, licensing rights, sales, marketing, and working closely with authors. During my MA in Publishing Studies degree at City University London, I worked as an agency assistant and started to learn the ropes. I've been head over heels for it ever since.
How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?
My agent philosophy and style is one of a project manager. I like to be in the loop on all conversations from editorial to production to promotion. I like to be hands-on when editing client manuscripts. I'm proactive, resourceful and available to my clients every day of the week. I closely manage my authors' career with their best interests at heart. I want to be the person they can lean on for everything from writing proposals to crafting first drafts to making decisions about cover design.

I expect my author-agent relationships to be a partnership built on trust, full of two-way communication, and having my vision for my clients' careers match their own.
What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?
In Spring '13 THE HOLDERS by Julianna Scott came out with Angry Robot.

This is an author who I have sold multiple projects for. Julianna Scott is a wizard at coming up with commercial plots that have great depth of emotion and draw readers in. This YA series is about two teen holders of supernatural powers, pawns in a rivalry between the good and evil of their kind, and the fight for knowledge, love, and their own lives set against the backdrop of their Irish boarding school community. I love its romance, drama, and suspenseful intrigue!

In Summer '13 FOREVER, INTERRUPTED by Taylor Jenkins Reid came out with Atria/Simon & Schuster.

FOREVER, INTERRUPTED is an amazing women's fiction story by the talented Taylor Jenkins Reid. I describe FOREVER, INTERRUPTED as P.S. I LOVE YOU meets THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING. It's an emotional novel about a young widow struggling with how to grieve the loss of her nine-day marriage and forge a relationship with a mother-in-law who doesn’t know that she exists. The novel has been sold in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands already. It's connecting with women all over the world and had me hooked (and teary eyed!) from the beginning. Part love story, part women learning how to forge new friendships--it's a clear winner and I can't wait for the release.
What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?
Fiction: picture books, young adult novels, women's fiction, contemporary romance, memoir, literary mysteries and thrillers. Non fiction: health, wellness, lifestyle, and select humour projects.

I don't represent middle grade novels, history, politics, poetry, or screenplays.
What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?
Avoid taking your time getting to the hook. I like to know the elevator pitch, word count and genre right at the top of the query.

Avoid telling me about your gender, age, pets and other information that doesn't help me make a decision about your query.
What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?
I am looking for emotionally gripping women's fiction, memoirs, and YA. I want to be whisked away from my desk and planted in the story. I want characters that are compelling and complex. I want to read a story that I will fight to represent and can't wait to tell my editor friends about.

I am looking for topical and original non fiction. I look for non fiction authors with terrific platforms and who are experts in their field: comedians, TV hosts, chefs, journalists, and more.
What’s the best way to query you?
Please query me via e-mail only, no attachments, at query(at)psliterary(dot)com with the subject heading: QUERY: BOOK TITLE. Our agency does not accept queries in the mail.
What's your favorite part of being an agent?
Everything. From discovering new talent, to being the biggest literary advocate in your author's life, to selling debut fiction, to building author brands--agents have a special relationship with the clients and within the publishing world.
What would your ideal client be?
A bestseller. (Is that too cheeky?) Let's try that again… Someone who is talented, understands the art of revisions, is willing to promote and market their book, is resilient, has many books in them, and has excellent communication skills whether it's talking with me, their editor, on social media or their ability to communicate their ideas within their book.
Why did you write this book?
Agents are full of information about how to get published, what it takes to have a long career in the writing business, and how things have changed in the 21st century for the publishing industry and sometimes they aren't able to share it because we're too busy taking care of our clients.

This book covers everything from the writing craft, the querying process, the agent/author relationship and how the digital revolution is affecting the process of getting published. I share my tips for getting the reader’s attention and how to keep it, teaching yourself to self-edit, how to write a query letter, how to pitch an agent in person, what to do while your book is on submission, and how to manage social media to the best of your ability.

You’ll glean some helpful advice, gain some perspective, and have a book of tips and resources at your fingertips. Anything you want to know about publishing from the debut writer’s perspective is on these pages. It’s as if we’re sitting down for coffee and you’re picking my brain.
Published 2013-10-02.
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