Thank you for stopping by Heart of Romance. You all know that I am a pre-published author. As with anyone, part of my job is to research all aspects of this career. We all have questions we would like to ask an agent and I have been given the opportunity to do just that and I wanted to share this interview with you.
I would like to introduce to you, Literary Agent, MARISA CORVISIERO, of The Corvisiero Literary Agency, New York.
SARAH- Marisa, Thank you for coming to Heart of Romance today!
MARISA- Thanks for having me!
SARAH-Let me start off with asking what exactly is the job of a Literary Agent?
MARISA- A Literary Agent’s job is to represent an author and his/her work for the purpose of selling it to the best suitable publisher and get the best possible deal. Although the relationship continues, especially when the client writes anther book that the agent agrees to sell, the agent will guide and advice the client and look out for the client’s best interest for as long as that person is a client. Contrary to popular misconceptions, that’s about it. Some of us are more active in our client’s lives and careers, but the agreement is basically that the agent will sell the author’s book.
SARAH- Not only are you a Literary Agent, but you are also a Lawyer. How do the two go hand in hand and does it give you an edge over other agents?
MARISA- My knowledge base, experience, and skills as an attorney come to play every single day in many facets of agenting. My legal knowledge and contract experience helps me with drafting, editing, and negotiating contracts. The analytical and active reading skills make me a good reader, and an organized problem solver. I also have a Bachelors in International Business and Marketing. I feel that part of my education and business experience also give me an edge in making deals, seeing opportunities, helping my clients with different ventures and ideas for placing them into the right markets with the right editors at the right time; and also to help them market and promote their work, expand their platforms, and build their brand.
SARAH- What constitutes a good query letter?
MARISA- A query letter is the cover letter that is sent to Agents to introduce their work and offer their work to the agent for consideration. A letter should be professional and well written. It should contain the genre and word count of the finished work (rounded off to the nearest K); a brief description of the work in one or two paragraphs of 4-5 sentences each at most. The last paragraph should contain relevant information about the author that shows their qualifications or formal writing training, involvement in the industry (conferences, publications, awards, associations, critique groups, etc.), and their platform if it is significant and relevant to the work they are pitching.
SARAH- What tips would you give to a writer starting the querying process?
MARISA- Do your research. Knowing that the agent is taking queries, how they want submissions made, likes the type of work that you are shopping, and is a reputable agent, are key items that you must know to avoid wasting your time. Give your self the best probability of receiving a favorable response.
SARAH- What seems to be the new trend coming in the next year? Werewolves? Pirates?
MARISA- Editors are tired of the Werewolves, Fae, Vampires, cliché superpowers, etc. They are searching high and low for really creative ideas, high concepts, and well developed character driven stories.
SARAH- What do you expect from an author who signs with you?
MARISA- Any author who signs with me needs to be responsive, open minded, professional, respectful and willing to communicate. They need to understand that we will be partners and that together we will have the best chance of achieving success. They need to be willing to do revisions and at least listen to advice and discuss options in a flexible manner. And they need to be willing and able to work their butts off to meet deadlines and do whatever it takes to promote their work.
SARAH- Okay, let’s switch it around. What can an author expect who signs with you?
MARISA- Any author that signs with me can expect to always get my honest opinion, and someone who will be in their corner always looking to propel their careers forward. We will be business partners in this endeavor and both of our goals will always be to get as many books sold as possible. However, they need to understand that as with any other business, a huge part of being successful is to build relationships. So we need to communicate with each other and foster a bond that will help us present a unified front and a professional image. This will help us to create better relationships with our editors, publicists, and readers.
SARAH- With the trend of authors self-publishing, do you see this as a negative for the author who may later decide to try traditional publishing?
MARISA- Although some still believe that self publishing is a negative or a deterrent to becoming a successful author, I will say that the trend has changed a lot in the past few years, and it continues to change. In the past, vanity press was frowned upon. Now, with so many resources and the ease of self publishing in contrast with the time delays and decreased acquisitions by traditional publishers, many more authors have turned to self publishing. Being self published no longer means that the book is just not good enough or that the author is difficult to work with. It may just mean that the author is willing to spend time and money to sell their book and that they are eager to create a following. So the old perceptions are shifting into a more neutral and acceptable plane. I have recently sent out questions to some contacts at NYC top ten traditional houses and all ten told me that if they love the work and the book has been doing well, they will try to acquire it. The magic number for “doing well” is about 5K book sales! That is not an impossible number to achieve today with all of the social marketing and e-book opportunities that cost almost nothing! I always say, “the work speaks for itself”… when the editors love the book, they will usually not turn it down.
SARAH- Jo Ann Kairys and you started a new company called Literary Powerhouse. Please tell us about this new endeavor.
MARISA- Literary Powerhouse is an entity that Jo Ann and I created for authors. The idea of starting this business was an evolution of a demand that each of us was experiencing separately in our jobs. Jo Ann is a children’s book award winning author and a publisher, and like me, she would be constantly approached by people in the industry for advice. So one day during one of our extensive chats about the industry and trends and the lack of homogeneity, consistency, quantifiability, accessibility, and overall practical availability of information that is available in this industry, we decided that we should do something that is helpful and fun for authors. We both agreed that it would also be helpful for us to have one place where we can provide all of these things. So we created Literary Powerhouse Consulting, and started to offer consulting services for anyone that needed it in a professional controlled setting that is separate from our other endeavors and therefore clear of any conflicts or confusion as to what the client could expect.
Then as time went by we started coming up with all of these really useful resources, high tech modules and platforms that we have started to incorporate into our site for the purpose of providing “PowerTools” to folks in the industry that would help them achieve so much more in an efficient and stress free manner. The first thing that we did was put up a Forum. This is an interactive chat board on our site where authors can sign up as free members and enjoy asking questions, posting answers or just reading what others are discussing. We recently added the LitPow Portal. The portal is a literary industry exclusive social media platform that is only available to paid members. Members of the Forum can upgrade these memberships to Literary Memberships at reduced rates to access the Portal where they can use social media platform, chat, e-mail, blog, use the PowerTools and access all of our resources and participate in special events (Weekly chats with agents and editors live, workshops, telecasts, valuable resource lists (publishers, agents, conferences, publicists, contests, reviewers, etc), and tips. We have started filling the portal up with all of these goodies and loading up the PowerTools a little at a time. As we add these things we are working out the glitches and are enjoying the growth and progress the site is making as users have flocked to the site and have been raving about what is up so far. Some of them have no idea that we have so much more planned for them. It’s super exiting!
SARAH- You just started your own Literary Agency. Can you tell us about the plans you have for it and what made you decide to go out on your own?
MARISA- Yes I have finally hung up my own agency shingle. The name is not a very creative one, but it has some recognition- Corvisiero Literary Agency, which I intend to grow into a prominent and quality home for talented agents and authors to succeed together for a long time. Some may say that that’s a smoky answer, but it’s exactly what I mean. I want this agency to be a place that is known for representing excellent work that does well. I want publishers to trust us when we tell them that they have to acquire a certain book. I want authors to know that they will be treated well, with respect and sensitivity to their needs and time. And I want us all to make a happy living while we do what we love!
SARAH- How do you differentiate the two or are they meant to work together?
MARISA- The two entities are completely separate legal entities that provide different services. The agency, as all agencies do, will be a place where authors query their chosen agent to get them to represent their work. In return, we will consider such work as quickly as possible, and if we like it, we will contract the author as a client and do our best to sell their work. There will never be any fees charged to prospective or agented clients for any services rendered. Our agents will earn the industry standard commission of 15% for national sales and 20% of international sales.
In the consulting business our model is different. This business operates much more like a law firm would in that we charge clients fixed fees per project, or on an hourly basis for specific services rendered. If anyone in the industry (an author, agent, publisher, printer, distributors, reviewer, publicists, conference, etc) has a need for a knowledge base or a service to be provided for their projects, or issues they may have encountered, we will give them a proposal illustrating how we can help them and how much it will cost. We often have more than two options in these proposals unless it’s as simple as me critiquing their query and helping them find a good target agent. A more complex project may be editing a manuscript, deciding how to get it published (traditional with an agent, small press, e-pub, or self pub), getting them into brick and mortar stores, helping them apply to the right writing contests, getting them reviews or quotes from people with healthy platforms, and creating a publicity plan. We also help agents organize their submission process; set up publishing companies; design professional websites with blogs, etc. We have a wonderful staff and network that can assist us in many different tasks and projects as the need arise and as budgets permit.
SARAH- Is there anything I haven’t covered that you think would be beneficial to know for authors everywhere?
MARISA- I have type A+ blood. ;) Just kidding…actually it’s true…. But to answer the question, I would love to tell people to check out everything that we offer on our Literary Powerhouse website and become a part of our growing network. We also have a LitPow Writer’s Network group on Facebook that is a lot of fun and a great way to share info with other writers. So far we have about 150 members, including 4 National Best Selling Authors.
SARAH- Last but not least, would you please tell my readers all the places they can find you?
MARISA- Sure! I’m including links…
FacebookMarisa A. Corvisiero – Literary Agent
Marisa Iozzi Corvisiero (personal page)
Literary Powerhouse www.literarypowerhouse.com
Corvisiero Literary Agency
The Corvisiero Law Practice
LitPow Writers’ Network (Group)
LinkedIn- Marisa A. Corvisiero www.linkedin.com
Blog- Thoughts From a Literary Agent www.thoughtsfromaliteraryagent.blogspot.com
Literary Powerhouse Forum and Portal
Law Firm - The Corvisiero Law Practice, PC
Literary Agency - Corvisiero Literary Agency, LLC
Consulting - Literary Powerhouse Consulting, LLC
SARAH- I want to thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we really appreciate your advice and time. I would like to wish you luck in your future and I hope you have a great rest of 2012!
MARISA- Thank you so much, Sarah. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you and your readers.