Agent Advice: Nancy Love of Nancy Love Literary

“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Nancy Love of Nancy Love Literary) 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 literary agent Nancy Love of the Nancy Love Literary Agency. Nancy is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives as well as the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She specializes in nonfiction.

 


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

NL: How Your Child Learns Best, by Judy Willis, to Sourcebooks. She’s a noted neurologist and middle school teacher who tells parents how to use the latest revelations about the brain to help their children overcome the rote memorization in today’s classrooms and engage in creative thinking and discovery.

GLA: The last time you updated your Guide to Literary Agents listing, you said you’re closed to new fiction clients. Is this still accurate?

NL: Yes, but I am taking on new writers of adult nonfiction. Writers should send queries before submitting proposals.

GLA: Traditionally, an author queries an agent, who then contacts publishers. But are there instances where publishers contact you and say, “We have this idea for a book and we need a writer”?

NL: Yes, that does happen sometimes. This is why I give editors my client list. That can lead to an assignment for one of the writers I represent. Or they will call looking for a writer for a particular book.

GLA: If a writer sells their first nonfiction book to a medium-sized press, what are realistic expectations in terms of an advance and possible first print run?

NL: The range is so enormous, I can’t begin to guess at what a writer should expect. It depends on whether the writer has a big platform and there is an expectation of a lot of books being sold, or whether there is an auction that raises all boats, on whether there is a buyback to sweeten the advance and the print run.

GLA: What are the most common problems you see in nonfiction book proposals?

NL: The writer doesn’t express succinctly and clearly what the book is about.

The writer doesn’t expand adequately on what she/he can do to promote the book.

The writer doesn’t understand that they need to say why their book is better and different than the competition. It is not enough to just list the competition.

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GLA: You said you’re actively seeking “narrative nonfiction.” Can you help define this for writers?

NL: Everyone loves stories. That is what a “narrative” is. There have been many individual ways of expressing this since it all began with the New Journalism. The writer puts the reader in the story; he doesn’t stand outside and report on it or interview the principals. Think The Perfect Storm or The Right Stuff.

GLA: Your definition of narrative nonfiction sounds like the definition of creative nonfiction. Are they one in the same or just very close?

NL: I think people teaching writing and journalism in colleges have thought up all these categories. I have never heard anyone give a definition of creative nonfiction and narrative nonfiction that made them sound like two different things. I don’t make up these labels; I just try to sell the stuff.

GLA: Are there good or bad times of the year to query an agent?

NL: There are times when it is easier or more difficult to sell books to publishers (summer because of vacations; around the winter holidays because everyone is shopping or away). But agents are always working, except when they are taking a vacation, and it might take more time to get an answer from an agent who is on vacation.

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

NL: At this time, I don’t have any dates for future conferences.

Nancy Love specializes in nonfiction and is accepting nonfiction queries for the following subjects: biography, parenting, cooking, current affairs, ethnic, politics, health, history, how-to, nature, popular culture, psychology, science, self-help, travel (no how-to), true crime, women’s issues. To contact Nancy, send a snail mail query and SASE to 250 E. 65th St., New York, 10065.
Nancy says “Nonfiction authors and/or collaborators must be an authority in their subject area and have a platform.
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