Agent Advice: Lori Perkins of L. Perkins Agency

 

Agent Interview by
contributor Ricki Schultz.

 

“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Lori Perkins of L. Perkins Agency) 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 Lori Perkins, founder of the L. Perkins Agency (no website). Lori graduated from NYU with a B.A. in art history and journalism.

She seeks: horror, social science fiction, dark fantasy, dark literary novels and erotica. In nonfiction, she handles books about pop culture (music, art, film, TV, etc) and she is also interested in architecture and design. She does not want to receive straight romance, Westerns, non-quirky mysteries, children’s books, plays, screenplays, articles or short stories. 



GLA: How did you become an agent?

LP: I was the publisher of a newspaper in Manhattan, and my editor left to become an agent. He told me that I was like an agent, giving my reporters ideas for stories and then telling them where to send them and how to pitch them. The agent he worked for wanted someone to run his office while he was on the west coast, and I took the job. I worked for him for six months, and then trained with another agent for three years before I went out on my own.

GLA: What’s the most recent thing you’ve sold?

LPHungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance to St. Martin’s Press for Ravenousromance.com. I am currently selling Jenna Jameson’s second nonfiction book about her transformation from porn star to mother. She was just on “Oprah.”

GLA: I read an interview where you said you were looking for the Latino Gone with the Wind. Would that still jump to the top of your slush pile? Other than that, what are you looking for right now and not getting?

LP: I’d love a Gone with the Wind that’s about Scarlett’s battle for self in a paternalistic society undergoing sweeping change, not Rhett or Ashley’s adventures. I can’t tell you the number of books that have come in with male protagonists. The only things that are selling right now are paranormal romance and young adult fiction. I personally love vampires, zombies, the vampire zombie Apocalypse, and kick-ass female characters. Female-centered erotica and erotic romance are always considered as well.

I take on very few new clients, as I have 80 existing clients and am the Editorial Director of ravenousromance.com, which publishes 120 books a year, but I have two junior agents who specialize in mysteries, thrillers, literary fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy/paranormal romance, YA, pop culture, dystopian past and future, and horror.

GLA: I know ravenousromance.com is a new digital epublishing company? What else can you tell us about it?

LP: Well, we started the company in July 2008, and launched Dec. 1, 2008. I’ve been working two jobs for a year and a half, but I love what I’m doing and believe that I am getting more writers published this way, and am on the cutting edge of a revolution in publishing. As an agent, digital publishing is all about getting writers read, so any way that can happen, I encourage.

The three principals of the company—myself, Holly Schmidt and Allan Penn—are a formidable publishing trio with over 55 years of book experience. Allan does our covers and coordinates the audio program. He is an amazing photographer who trained under Cosmo‘s Francesco Scavullo, which is why we have such award-winning covers. Holly was the publisher of Quirk and Marketing guru at Rodale, so she knows how to get our books in places you can’t imagine. That’s how we launched the Ravenous Romance Home Shopping network program. And the fact that I am an agent, and know so many writers, has helped us bring more than 300 authors to Ravenous Romance. We’ve also sold sub-rights to about a third of the 150 titles we’ve published this year, which is unheard of for epublshers.

GLA: What are you looking for at Ravenousromance.com?

LP: Our best-selling titles are paranormal romance, the kinkier stuff, and our Male/Male titles, but we are looking for everything in erotic romance.  We pay advance for both short stores and novels, unlike most epublishers.  We buy about 300 short stories a year (between 2000 and 5000 words), so go to our blog,  to look for calls for stories in our in-house anthologies. Our novels run between 50,000 and 60,000 words. Send submissions to submissions@ravenousromance.com.

 

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GLA: Can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in social science fiction? Perhaps give some examples of books you repped that fit into this category so writers can get a sense of what you’re looking for here.

LP: Soft science that deals with changes in society. Things like 1984, Gattica, Jennifer Government.

GLA: With most of the fiction you seek, you’re looking for “dark dark dark.” What draws you to the dark side?

LP: I don’t like happy endings. I like twists and twisted stories. I especially like revenge stories.

GLA: You do not handle romance—you’re looking for what you call “feminist smut” and “very sexy” chick lit. Is there a difference between this and straight-up erotica? In your mind, how can one give erotic romance a feminist spin?

LP: Straight up erotica has been based on years and years of male sexual fantasy—what I call the Spank Me Baby books. Feminist smut is women-centered erotica that focuses on both the sexual and self-esteem journey. It makes you feel good and feel good about yourself, and even makes you feel good about feeling good, if you know what I mean.

GLA: Where are new writers most commonly going wrong in chapter one?

LP: They have not reviewed The Elements of Style by Strunk & White; that, and they and overwrite.

GLA: What topics would you classify as overdone in the nonfiction area of pop culture?

LP: It’s almost impossible to sell an unauthorized biography today because biographies go on the Internet.

GLA: How do you prefer to be contacted by writers seeking representation?

LP: E-mail and e-mail only. lperkinsagency(at)yahoo(dot)com.

GLA: You mentioned other agents at the agency. How many other agents do you have at L. Perkins Agency?

LP: Three other agents and two interns.

GLA: Do they have different tastes readers need to know about?

LP: Sandy Lu is actively looking for thrillers, mysteries, literary fiction, and urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Max Ximenez will be handling comic books and graphic novels as well as gaming-related titles.

GLA: Will you be at any upcoming writers’ conferences where writers can meet and pitch you? 

LP: I attend Necon and KillerCon every year, as well as Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam at BEA, Romantic Times, and RWA. I usually attend World Fantasy.

GLA: Best piece(s) of advice we haven’t talked about yet?

LP: Finish the book. Keep it to 80,000 words.

 

This agent interview by Ricki Schultz,
freelance writer and coordinator of
Shenandoah Writers in VA. Visit her blog
or follow her on Twitter.

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