Hey readers! Ethan here introducing to you a brand new blog series!
Getting a book from a word document and onto the shelves at your local bookstore takes a lot of work and, often, a small army to do it. Many believe that the authors are the only rockstars in the business. After over a year of blogging, I've learned that this simply isn't true. There is an entire community of 'unsung heroes' doing the hard work behind the scenes to get the book ready for our hands!
In this series, I'm honoring those awesome unsung heroes.
Book World: Behind the Scenes will be a weekly post, each Thursday, that will spotlight one awesome individual from the book world. I will not only be spotlighting that person, but also conducting a one-on-one interview with them covering an array of topics such as the current state of the book world, trends they are seeing, and some information about their background in the field.
Week One: Meet Sarah Negovetich
Sarah Negovetich knows you don't know how to pronounce her name and she's okay with that.
Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it's accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliché.
Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won’t read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life’s goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.
FIND SARAH NEGOVETICH
Interview with Sarah Negovetich
Name: Sarah Negovetich
Location: The stars at night are big and bright (clap, clap, clap, clap) deep in the heart of Texas
Book World Occupation: Literary Agent
Years in the Business: 2 1/2
Currently Reading/Last Book You Read: The Saints by Lex Thomas
1. We’ve read your bio, but tell us a little more about yourself and your work within the business. What exactly is your role in helping a book get from a word document and into the reader’s hands?
My part is all the stuff that that falls in the middle of the publishing process that I never even knew existed until I got into publishing. I work with my clients to polish up their manuscripts, give advice on what projects to work on next and provide a sounding board for ideas. After that, I reach out to editors who I think will love the book as much as me and hopefully we find a match.
2. What kind of training do you have? What prepares you for this type of work?
I don’t think anything can really prepare you for becoming an agent. It’s a lot of responsibility to be given charge over someone’s book baby and dreams. There really isn’t a special training course to take to become an agent (I wish there was). I was lucky enough to land an internship and worked my way up from there learning everything I possibly could along the way. The only absolute qualification you need is a true love of books and an understanding of the magic they contain. Everything else can be taught.
3. As a literary agent, you have one of the most important jobs when it comes to the publishing industry. It’s also one of the most misunderstood roles in the book world. Tell us a bit about what an agent is and why having (a good) one is important for both the author and their readers.
I actually think I have one of the smallest roles in publishing. Certainly an author is the most important cog in the engine. I think the easiest way to understand the role of an agent is to imagine we are a compass. We work for our authors and are there to help guide them and their book toward publication. We help keep them on the right path and from getting lost along the way.
There are so many pitfalls that authors can fall into. We point to the new publishers all the time and warn authors to be careful, but even established publishers can trip up an author if they aren’t careful about the contract they sign. A good agent can make sure that an author is getting a fair deal for their work and aren’t agreeing to something that is going to come back and hurt them in the future.
4. Not only are you a literary agent, but last fall you also published your first young adult novel. How has being a published author changed your role in the literary world? Do you see the literary world different now that you’ve seen the author side of things?
I don’t think my role has changed. I’ve always been a writer and I bet you’d find that a lot of agents enjoying writing on the side. We tend to be creative folks. What has changed for me is that I am now able to relate to my authors on a new level. I completely understand the panic that happens a week before publication when you realize that yes, it is too late to make any more changes. I understand the dead weight of that first negative review and manic inducing chaos that is Amazon rankings. I hope that having been on the other side helps me to be more empathetic because I can sincerely say that I completely understand what they are going through during the publication process.
5. As someone in such an important part of the business, I’m sure you see some great and some… not so great, work. What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to publishing? What makes Sarah Negovetich tick?
There isn’t a whole lot that sets me off, however, one mistake will make me write off an author faster than you can name your favorite Harry Potter book: Unprofessionalism. I realize that emotions are high for writers in the query trenches and dreams are on the line. But finding an agent is a career decision, much like applying for a new job. I don’t expect perfection, but I do expect authors who query me to be respectful and take their query seriously. Nothing irritates me more than a query that start “I know you ask for x, y, z, but I decided to ignore that and do my own thing.” You’d be surprised by how many queries I get like that. Those are always automatic rejections for me. I’m only interested in working with authors who understand that while being an author is fun, it is not a game.
6. Publishing, much like the books themselves, goes through phases and trends. What are some of the more common trends we are seeing in the current book market?
One change I’ve noticed lately is that more of the big houses are opening up additional imprints to focus on more specific genres and styles. I think this is great. Books are a growing market and readers have varied tastes. There is a lot more variety coming out now. Publishers are getting a handle on the eBook market and we are seeing more risks taken on books that might not have been considered publishable a few years ago.
7. What advice would you have for an author who is looking for an agent? What criteria do you think is most important when searching? With so many to choose from, how is an author to decide who best to represent their vision?
I advise authors to not get hung up on searching for their perfect agent. Social media can make it feel like we know everything about someone, but that’s just not true. And determining someone’s fit with your manuscript based off a few tweets and blog posts is impossible. Instead, search out agents who are actively looking for manuscripts in your genre and query widely. Once you get further in the process, you can have real conversations with agents about your book and start making decisions off those.
Above all, you need to feel like you can trust your agent. You will be putting your work into their hands and trusting them to find a home. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t, but you need to be able to sleep at night knowing that your agent is doing the best job they can for you.
8. In a world where self-publishing is as easy as uploading a document and hitting that shiny ‘publish’ button, why would you say having an agent is important?
Self-publishing is great, but it isn’t for everyone. It’s a ton (A TON) of work and not something that is a good option for certain types of stories. And even if you are self-publishing, you still may want an agent. I represent a self-published author and focus only on her sub rights. As a self-published author myself, I have an agent and I’m glad I do.
9. As an agent, I know that you read constantly. What are some of your all time favorite reads?
You do realize that asking a question like this is like asking me which of my kids is my favorite. If I’m talking about all-time favorites I have to include the Harry Potter series. I also love 1984 by George Orwell. And I have to mention The Wheel of Time epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and finished by Brandon Sanderson when Jordan passed away). There are so many more, but I can’t list them all.
10. Where can we learn more about Sarah Negovetich and her work with the Corvisiero Literary Agency?
You can check out the agency at www.CorvisieroAgency.com. I also blog regularly at www.SarahNegovetich.com. Every Monday I post agency lessons to help authors still out there in the query trenches and post marketing articles twice a week.
This past week, I had the amazing honor to meet Sarah at UtopYA in Nashville, Tennessee. Sarah and I did a whole lot of bonding with the boss-lady. While we took a few pictures, I haven't the slightest clue where they all are. Unfortunately, all I can find right this moment is this blurry one, but don't worry, I'll add a new one when I can find one!
|Sarah Negovetich and Ethan Gregory at the Fourth Annual UtopYAcon Awards|
Please don't hesitate to check out Sarah's page on the Corvisiero website to learn more about what works she is looking for and her submissions guidelines! Who would want to miss a chance to work with Sarah and her incredibly attractive intern? Exactly.
Alright everyone, that's all I have for you on Sarah Negovetich during this week's Book World: Behind the Scenes! I hope you've enjoyed learning a little bit more about some of the BTS work that goes into making our favorite reads awesome! Be sure to join us next week when we meet another amazing industry professional!
Thanks so much for stopping by. Until next time, Happy Reading!
Are you an author? Do you work with an incredible someone who holds a career in one of the above fields? Are you a blogger who has worked with one? I want to honor those awesome people!
I already have a handful of interested parties lined up, but I'd like to add more. If you would like to nominate someone for a spotlight, please don't hesitate to let me know.
Interested parties are encouraged to fill out the Goodle Doc by clicking here or to contact me (Ethan) directly by shooting an email to OneGuysGuidetoGoodReads@gmail.com.
I think this is an incredible opportunity to show readers and the rest of the bookish community just how much work goes into making a book successful! Let's give those unsung heroes a moment in the spotlight!