“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.
This installment features Catherine Drayton of InkWell Management. Catherine graduated with a Bachelor of Arts/Law from the University of Sydney and a Masters of Law from University of New South Wales. She worked as a copyright and defamation litigator in Sydney for four years before moving to the United States in 1995. She had a brief stint as a literary scout and then joined Arthur Pine Associates in 1998.
She is seeking: “both fiction and nonfiction. She has had considerable success with books for children and young adults.”
GLA: How did you become an agent?
CD: I am a lawyer by profession. When I moved to the U.S. in 1995, I decided to pursue my love of literature. I began working as a scout and then joined Arthur Pine Associates, which subsequently became InkWell, in 1998.
GLA: What’s something coming out that you’re excited about?
CD: Hereafter by Tara Hudson (HarperCollins), Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (Simon & Schuster), Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow by Nathan Bransford (Penguin), Leverage by Joshua Cohen (Penguin), and Cleo (Citadel).
GLA: On your online profile, it says you work with writers of fiction, nonfiction and kids. That’s very general—can you tell us more about what you want to see in submissions and what you don’t?
CD: I tend to concentrate on all genres of children’s books (picture, middle-grade and YA) and women’s fiction. In young adult, I love the very literary novel such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak or The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee, but I also enjoy compelling commercial projects such as Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan. I look for high-end women’s fiction such as Saving Ceecee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman and am always on the look-out for novels that will appeal to women’s book clubs. I’m excited about Cleo, a memoir by Helen Brown that is about to be published, but I don’t do much nonfiction these days.
(See our growing list of picture book agents.)
GLA: I see many numerous kids books sales on Publishers Marketplace. What draws you to the realm of kids writing?
CD: I have three children so am surrounded by their books! If you can capture a child as a reader you have given them an enormous gift.
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GLA: Within kids writing, what (besides simply good writing) are you looking for and not getting.
CD: I look for imagination and voice. I see a lot of projects that are derivative of published works. It’s a tough market out there and there are too many books published so I want the books that I represent to be of the highest quality.
GLA: You rep a lot of YA. Can you give us your best three tips for writing for teens?
CD: 1) Remember what it is like to be a teenager. 2) Don’t lecture. 3) A wry sense of humor always helps!
GLA: You’re from Australia and I see you rep some Aussie authors. Do you look for nonfiction/fiction that has ties to Down Under?
CD: I represent some Australian publishers and agents so I look for the best Australian writers.
GLA: You rep Marcus Zusak, whose book The Book Thief, has gotten all kinds of acclaim and I believe is a featured book at my county’s library this month, to boot. What was it like when you heard it won the Printz?
CD: The Book Thief is a brave and beautiful novel. It will be read for many years to come so I was thrilled, but not surprised, when it won.
GLA: Will you be at any upcoming conferences where writers can meet and pitch you? (See a list of writers conferences.)
CD: I don’t attend many conferences. Writers are welcome to query me by e-mail and I do read and respond to my own mail. [Chuck's note: Online at Inkwell's website, it says all queries should go to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would suggest writing "Query for Catherine" in the subject line.]
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- How to Write a Thriller: 5 Tips.
- Thriller Author Jude Hardin Explains “How I Got My Agent.”
- Agent Irene Goodman Shares Tips for Thriller & Mystery Writing.
- NEW Agent Seeking Thrillers, Mysteries & More: Lindsey Clemens of Larsen-Pomada.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Author Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.